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NBA First-Round Playoff Series Best Bets: Nuggets vs Lakers and Knicks vs 76ers

Cavaliers the clear betting favorite over Magic
Vaughn Dalzell and Drew Dinsick examine the market for the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Orlando Magic NBA playoff series, in which they're clearly aligned on the victor.

Vaughn Dalzell breaks down two series futures bets he likes between the Denver Nuggets and L.A. Lakers, plus the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.

Lakers (+250) vs Nuggets (-310): O/U 5.5 Games

I think Denver is undoubtedly the better team between these two and Los Angeles made a mistake facing Denver rather than Oklahoma City in the first round.

This series is likely done in five or six games and while the argument for the Lakers is that they were fatigued and injured when facing the Nuggets in Denver’s 4-0 sweep last year, I doubt much changes the second time around.

Denver swept L.A. in the regular season, beating the Lakers three times by 8, 10, and 12 points and two of three games in Los Angeles. Anthony Davis and LeBron James played in all three of those matchups too.

The Nuggets are completely healthy, while the Lakers are down Jarred Vanderbilt, Christian Wood, and Cam Reddish for at least Game 1. Denver still has depth and a first-round exit doesn’t seem likely for the defending champs.

I played Denver on the series spread at -1.5 for -140 odds on DraftKings. I’d go to -150 by risking 1.5 units or risk 2 units up to -200. As long as Denver advances past L.A. by a series score of 4-0, 4-1, or 4-2, they can cash this bet.

Pick: Nuggets -1.5 (Risk 1.5u)

Knicks (-118) vs 76ers (-104): O/U 5.5 Games

The Knicks and 76ers should be the most interesting series and feature some classic 1990s bruising basketball.

Breaking down the matchup, the defining factor for me is the 76ers guards of Kyle Lowry, De’Anthony Melton, and Cameron Payne. That trio will not take this team far in my opinion.

That trio is barely enough to qualify as a playoff group for me and Lowry’s performance against Miami had me wondering if he will be in the rotation in Games 5 or 6 of this series.

Of course, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are quality players to build around, but I don’t think Philly found the right pieces outside of Kelly Oubre or Tobias Harris (sometimes).

While Embiid’s return comes at the right time and this nine-game winning streak has been impressive for Philly, I am not buying this team short or long-term. The Knicks have better depth and they have the better three-point shooters which will come in handy in an anticipated defensive battle game-in and game-out.

There will be a spot or two to bet on Philly during this series, but in Game 1 as a +3.5 point underdog and at -104 for the series, I don’t like the 76ers’ chances in Madison Square Garden.

Give me the Knicks to win the series at -118 odds on FanDuel out to -150. In addition, I played New York to win Game 1 and the series at +170 odds on DraftKings.

Pick: Knicks to win series (1u), Knicks to win Game 1 and series (1u)

Season Record: 30-19 (61.2%) +12.81u

NBA Futures in my pocket

3u: Boston Celtics to win the Eastern Conference (-125)
Risk 2u: Clippers vs Mavericks Series Over 5.5 Games (-195)
Risk 2u: Cavaliers to win series vs Magic (-184)
Risk 1.5u: Nuggets -1.5 series spread vs Lakers (-140)
1u: Cavaliers to win Game 1 vs Magic and series (-110)
1u: Knicks to win series vs 76ers (-118)
1u: Knicks to win Game 1 vs 76ers and series (+170)
1u: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for MVP (+300)

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