2015 NBA Playoff Race: An Oddsmakers Take

2015 NBA Playoff Race: An Oddsmakers Take

The 2015 NBA Playoffs begin on April 18th and teams are still jockeying for position. The top seeds have already been locked up with the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors holding substantial leads over the competition, but the battle for the 8-seed in each conference likely won’t be decided until the final day of the season.

In the Western Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans (42-35) hold a half-game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (42-36) for the final playoff spot. However, the Eastern Conference has turned into a four team race with the Boston Celtics (35-43) somehow holding the upper hand over the Miami Heat (35-43), Indiana Pacers (34-43) and Charlotte Hornets (33-44). The Brooklyn Nets (36-41) also hold a tentative lead on the 7-seed in the East with a one-game lead over Boston.

Most of these teams have either five or six games to play, and we wanted to know what the lines would be in each of these critical matchups. With the help of Bet Labs manager Travis Reed we predicted the point spreads and implied odds for every remaining game. Using those figures, we were able to determine which teams were likely to make the postseason, and which were destined for the lottery.

Note: The win projection is calculated by removing the juice from the moneyline and then converting to an implied win percentage.

Eastern Conference:

Brooklyn Nets (Currently 7th)

DateOpponentProjected SpreadProjected MLImplied Odds
April 8thvs. Atlanta Hawks-6-24569.23%
April 10thvs. Washington Wizards+3+14041.49%
April 12that Milwaukee Bucks+2+11546.15%
April 13thvs. Chicago Bulls+4.5+18536.55%
April 15thvs. Orlando Magic-10-50583.27%

Projected Wins: 2.7669 | Total Wins: 38.7669

Boston Celtics (Currently 8th)

DateOpponentProjected SpreadProjected MLImplied Odds
April 8that Detroit Pistons-1-11551.08%
April 10that Cleveland Cavaliers*+11+45514.15%
April 12thvs. Cleveland Cavaliers*+7+26027.03%
April 14thvs. Toronto Raptors-2.5-13555.83%
April 15that Milwaukee Bucks+3+14041.49%

Projected Wins: 1.8958 | Total Wins: 36.8958

Miami Heat (0.5 Games Back)

DateOpponentProjected SpreadProjected MLImplied Odds
April 9thvs. Chicago Bulls*+1+10048.92%
April 11thvs. Toronto Raptors-4.5-21563.45%
April 13thvs. Orlando Magic-9.5-47082.00%
April 15that Philadelphia 76ers-8-33576.62%

Projected Wins: 2.7099 | Total Wins: 37.7099

Indiana Pacers (1.0 Games Back)

DateOpponentProjected SpreadProjected MLImplied Odds
April 8that New York Knicks-12.5-73090.09%
April 10that Detroit PistonsPK-11050.00%
April 12thvs. Oklahoma City Thunder+1+10048.92%
April 14thvs. Washington Wizards-3-16058.51%
April 15that Memphis Grizzlies*+6+21030.77%

Projected Wins: 2.7829 | Total Wins: 36.7829

Charlotte Hornets (2.0 Games Back)

DateOpponentProjected SpreadProjected MLImplied Odds
April 8thvs. Toronto Raptors+3.5+16539.88%
April 10that Atlanta Hawks*+10.5+41015.48%
April 12that Detroit Pistons+6+21030.77%
April 13thvs. Houston Rockets+8.5+32521.58%
April 15that Toronto Raptors+6+21030.77%

Projected Wins: 1.3848 | Total Wins: 34.3848

Western Conference

New Orleans Pelicans (Currently 8th)

DateOpponentProjected SpreadProjected MLImplied Odds
April 8that Memphis Grizzlies+4.5+18536.55%
April 10thvs. Phoenix Suns-5.5-24067.65%
April 12that Houston Rockets+6.5+23028.93%
April 13that Minnesota T'Wolves-5-23065.48%
April 15thvs. San Antonio Spurs*+3+14041.49%

Projected Wins: 2.401 | Total Wins: 44.401

Oklahoma City (0.5 Games Back)

DateOpponentProjected SpreadProjected MLImplied Odds
April 10thvs. Sacramento Kings-9.5-47082.00%
April 12that Indiana Pacers-3-16058.51%
April 13thvs. Portland Blazers-2-13053.85%
April 15that Minnesota T'Wolves-12-68088.22%

Projected Wins: 2.8258 | Total Wins: 44.8258

Based on our analysis, the Thunder are projected to pass the Pelicans for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, our numbers indicate that the Nets will hold onto the 7-seed while the Heat will leapfrog the Celtics for the 8-seed.

All of our lines are based on the premise that each team will dress a full roster, but it will be interesting to monitor whether playoff teams rest their stars down the stretch. We have put an asterisk next to potential rest teams, so those lines are certainly subject to dramatic changes.

The Celtics have two games against the Cavs, and that spread could change dramatically if LeBron James, Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love sit out. When you consider that Cleveland has all but locked up the 2-seed in the East, this seems like a highly plausible scenario. Similarly, the Miami Heat will play the Chicago Bulls tomorrow and it remains unclear whether the recently activated Derrick Rose will be playing on the second night of back-to-back games.

The most obvious potential rest game is the Pelican/Spurs game on the last day of the season. San Antonio has a history of resting their stars, so don’t be surprised if coach Popovich gives Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili the night off.

There is only one game featuring two playoff hopefuls: the April 12th showdown between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers. Bettors should be sure to bookmark our free NBA odds page for the latest odds and public betting trends.

Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at help@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar is the Content Manager at Sports Insights and can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar

David was the Content Manager at Sports Insights. He has since moved on to greener pastures.

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