2024 NBA Playoffs – Teams to Ride/Fade


The air is electric and the stakes have never been higher. It’s the much-anticipated 2024 NBA Playoffs, a time of the year that basketball enthusiasts revere and sports bettors eagerly look forward to. The season’s hardships are distilled into the intense clashes of the postseason, and it’s a battleground where the line between success and defeat becomes razor-thin.

2024 NBA Playoffs - Teams to Ride/Fade
The 2024 NBA playoffs start on Saturday, April 20.

In this post, the NBA experts at Sports Hub have dissected the teams that are poised for playoff greatness. The experts have pored over the data looking for the underdog, as well as those that might falter under the unforgiving playoff lights. Whether you’re a die-hard NBA fan, a keen sports bettor, or someone just tuning into the most electrifying time in the basketball calendar, this guide is your ultimate key to navigating the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

NOTE: The No. 8 seeds in each conference were not yet decided at the time of this writing.

Top Contenders 2024 NBA Playoffs

The 2024 NBA season has seen its fair share of narratives – from the resurgence of veteran talents to the blossoming of rookie phenoms. However, when we filter out the white noise of the regular season, several teams emerge as undeniable powerhouses.

The Denver Nuggets are the reigning NBA champions and they aren’t going anywhere just yet. The Nuggets earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and they will face the Los Angeles Lakers in Round 1. The Lakers beat the Pelicans in the NBA play-in game. 

2024 NBA Playoffs - Teams to Ride/Fade
The Nuggets are the defending NBA champions.

What Denver is not is a great team against the spread. The Nuggets are 38-42-2 ATS this season, but they are 8-0 SU and 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games against the Lakers. Two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic had double-doubles in all three Nuggets-Lakers games this season. Denver won all three games this season by at least eight points.

Boston finished the 2023-24 season with the best record in the NBA at 64-18. The Celtics earned the No. 1 seed in the East. Oklahoma City and Minnesota had great seasons as well, outscoring their opponents by 7.4 and 6.5 points, respectively. Boston was so good, the Celtics outscored their opponents by double digits – 11.4 points – per game. Boston, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota are all our top contenders in the 2024 NBA playoffs with eyes on a league championship.

Darkhorse Candidates in the 2024 NBA Playoffs

Each NBA playoff season, there are surprises. Take last year as a great example. The Miami Heat finished in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Miami lost in the No. 7-No. 8 game to Atlanta and then went on to defeat Chicago to earn the No. 8 seed in last year’s playoffs. The Heat would go on to advance to the NBA Finals where they lost to Denver.

No one expected the No. 8 seed to come out of the play-in tournament and win a conference championship. Miami can actually do that again in the 2024 NBA playoffs. The Heat finished eighth once again in the East and lost the first play-in game to Philadelphia. Miami faces Chicago once again in a game that will determine the eighth seed in the East.

While they are a longshot, bettors might want to stay away from the Heat in this season’s playoffs (if they make it). Star Jimmy Butler went down with a knee injury in the game against the Sixers and, if the Heat make the 2024 NBA playoffs, Butler would be out for a few weeks.

2024 NBA Playoffs - Teams to Ride/Fade
The 76ers playoff hopes rest on the shoulders of Joel Embiid.

Speaking of the Sixers, they may have a road to the NBA finals. Boston, of course, would stand in the way in the conference finals. Philadelphia, the No. 7 seed, has Joel Embiid back from an injury. They would not face Boston until the conference finals. Embiid would be the difference maker. 

Philly has not fared well against any of the teams they would face in the 2024 NBA playoffs. They were 1-3 against the Knicks, who they play in Round 1. Philly went 0-3 against Milwaukee, 1-2 against Indiana, and 1-3 versus Boston. Be wary of the Sixers this postseason.

What About the Lakers?

The Lakers ended the regular season with an 11-3 run and then beat New Orleans in the play-in tournament to capture the No. 7 seed in the 2024 NBA playoffs. They will face Denver, which is not an advantageous matchup for Los Angeles. The Nuggets have beaten the Lakers in eight straight meetings. That includes three games played this season.

LA has been playing well and a healthy Anthony Davis and LeBron James cannot be overlooked. Still, the defending champion Nuggets are a -420 favorite to win the series. In Game 1 of the series, Denver is favored by 7.5 points, -320 on the moneyline. 

The Lakers are a massive underdog at +310 to win the series. The big problem for LA will be defending Nikola Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets. The Lakers ranked 23rd in points allowed per game (117.2 ppg) this season and they are a middle-of-the-pack team in Defensive Efficiency. Bettors probably don’t want to get caught up in any of the LeBron/Lakers hype.

Warning: 2024 NBA Playoffs Teams with Red Flags

If you were thinking of backing Milwaukee in the 2024 NBA playoffs, you might want to rethink that strategy. The Bucks are favored (barely) to win their first-round playoff series against Indiana, but Milwaukee is +1600 to win the NBA title.

That’s because of the status of leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks star has a calf strain and missed the Bucks final three regular season games. He is listed as out for Game 1 and could miss the entire first round series. 

2024 NBA Playoffs - Teams to Ride/Fade
Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss at least Game 1 of the Bucks series against Indiana.

The Pacers actually opened as a 1-point road favorite in Game 1 of the series. Since Doc Rivers took over as head coach of the Bucks around midseason, Milwaukee is 3-3 without Giannis in the lineup.

Bettors should also use caution in betting the Boston Celtics to win an NBA title. The Celtics are the favorite at +145 to win it all. Rightfully so, they had the best record in the NBA and the highest net rating. Boston can score, they defend well, and have a strong core of stars that can take over a game.

That said, the last time the Eastern Conference sent its No. 1 seed to the NBA Finals was in 2016. That was when LeBron James still played in Cleveland. No. 1 seeds in the East have not fared well in the postseason. Last year, the Celtics were upset in Round 1 by No. 8 Miami. 

While that’s not likely to occur again, it would be wise to proceed with caution if you are betting Boston to win the Eastern Conference and/or the NBA Finals.

Betting on the 2024 NBA Playoffs

If there’s a time for strategic betting, it’s the 2024 NBA playoffs. Here, we arm you with prudent recommendations to maximize your chances of winning big amidst the emotional rollercoaster of postseason basketball.

  • Futures Bets: Look beyond the championship odds and consider prop bets on key players’ performances or series outcomes. These underdog wagers often carry lucrative potential if well-predicted.
  • Game-by-Game Analysis: Momentum can swing series, and game-by-game betting allows you to ride or resist these trends. Consider factors like home-court advantage, the effect of pivotal game wins or losses, and the physical toll of extended series. Don’t forget to always check injury reports.
  • Live Betting: With technology in your favor, betting live during games can offer a real-time assessment of team performances. This mode of betting demands quick thinking but can be highly rewarding in predicting dynamic game shifts. Second-half bets – moneyline, spread, and totals – can be very rewarding.
2024 NBA Playoffs - Teams to Ride/Fade
These are the Top 4 Sports Hub NBA handicappers over the last 30 days.
  • Sports Hub handicappers: Our Sport Hub handicappers will be in top form during the 2024 NBA playoffs. They will have the best NBA picks for the entire playoff season. Go to the picks database and see which cappers have had the best numbers this NBA season.

Enter Sports Hub’s NBA Playoffs Bracket Contest

Sports Hub’s NBA playoffs bracket contest starts soon and you’re going to want to get in on it. For a mere 10-point buy-in, competitors will have the opportunity to win up to 1,000 points! Remember, those points can be cashed in for a variety of items here at Sports Hub. 

The NBA playoffs bracket contest is pretty simple. You predict winners and score points. The more points you score in the NBA playoffs bracket contest, the better your chance of winning the top prize. Now, the NBA’s play-in games will not count toward the NBA playoffs bracket contest. It all starts once those games are finished and the actual NBA postseason begins.

Keep in mind, the NBA playoffs bracket contest is just one of many ways that our members can earn points. There are a variety of activities for members to complete to earn points. The NBA playoffs bracket contest does offer a large amount of points compared to these other activities.

The Final Word

The world of sports betting and NBA fandom intersect vibrantly in the playoffs. It’s a domain where analysis meets passion. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you at this point in the NBA season. 

You can always take the emotion out of the equation by partnering with the elite NBA handicappers here at Sports Hub. We’ve got the best of the best and you can only find them here at Sports Hub. 

Log in to the members area. Search for NBA picks or search by handicapper. You can search by bet type as well, if you are looking for ATS picks, totals, or even props picks. Bettors can only access these picks with a Sports Hub membership. You can register for free and if you have any questions, just click on that chat button below. One of our experts can answer all of your questions and set you on a path toward success during the 2024 NBA playoffs.

2024 NBA Playoffs FAQS

How do the NBA playoffs work?

The top six teams in each conference make the 2024 NBA playoffs. The teams that finish in seventh through tenth place must qualify for the playoffs through the play-in tournament.

What is the NBA play-in tournament?

The NBA play-in tournament includes the teams that finish No. 7 through No. 10 in each conference. The No. 7 team plays the No. 8 team and the winner becomes the No. 7 seed in the 2024 NBA playoffs. The loser of that game plays the winner of the No. 9-No. 10 game. The winner of that game earns the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.

How are the seeds determined for the 2024 NBA playoffs?

Seeding is done by records in the regular season. The team with the best record in a conference earns the No. 1 seed. The team with the second-best records earns the No. 2 seed, and so on. There are tiebreakers in place in case of any ties.

Are teams reseeded after each round of the 2024 NBA playoffs?

No, teams are not reseeded after each round of the playoffs. In each conference, the winner of the No. 1-No. 8 series will play the winner of the No. 4-No. 5 series. The winners of the No. 2-No. 7 series always play the winners of the No. 3-No. 6 series. The higher seed always has the home court advantage.

How many games do teams play in each round of the 2024 NBA playoffs?

Every round in the NBA playoffs is a best-of-seven series. Teams must win four games in order to advance to the next round.