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NBA 2024 Play-Offs Preview, Best Bets and Predictions

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Last updated: 19 Apr 2024
Ryan Tucker 19 Apr 2024
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  • The 2024 NBA Play-Offs begin early Sunday morning Australian time
  • NBA Play-Off expert preview, best bets and dark horse for the first round
  • Denver tipped by many to take it all out with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray leading the way
NBA Play-offs
NBA Play-Offs are just around the corner

NBA 2024 Play-Offs Preview, Best Bets and Predictions


The NBA Play-Offs are right around the corner with the final two play-in games scheduled to take place on Saturday Australian time. 
  • NBA 2024 Play-Offs Preview, Best Bets and Predictions
  • Eastern Conference
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (4th) vs Orlando Magic (5th)
  • Milwaukee Bucks (3rd) vs Indiana Pacers (6th)
  • New York Knicks (2nd) vs Philadelphia 76ers (7th)
  • Boston Celtics (1st) vs Miami Heat/Chicago Bulls (8th)
  • Western Conference
  • Los Angeles Clippers (4th) vs Dallas Mavericks (5th)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (3rd) vs Phoenix Suns (6th)
  • Denver Nuggets (2nd) vs Los Angeles Lakers (7th)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (1st) vs New Orleans Pelicans (8th)
  • Finals Matchup & Winner
  • Finals MVP
  • Dark Horse

With 7 of the 8 teams in each conference having secured their spot already we can push on with our expert previews of each matchup. Following the previews we will give our staff predictions for how we think each matchup will finish.

Eastern Conference


Cleveland Cavaliers (4th) vs Orlando Magic (5th)


The first two teams to play in the first round will be the Cavs and Magic. Orlando were a bit of a surprise packet this season with Paolo Banchero and Jonathan Isaac playing above their age and weight. Only two players on the Magic roster have ever won a play-off series and only 4 have ever played a play-offs game so they are going in to this series with a lot of learning to do. 

With that said they have a good coach in Jamahl Mosley and they split the four regular season games 2-2 with the Cavs this year. Cleveland on the other hand have some worrying to do themselves with injuries to Donocan Mitchell and Evan Mobley which could severely impact their ability to score points in this matchup. They were top 10 in three point attempts and makes this season and rely heavily on the perimeter shot to score. 

Many pundits believe the Cavs intentionally threw the last game of the season against the Hornets to fall in the standings and avoid the 76ers. But there are no easy opponents in an NBA Play-Off series and should they progress from the first round they could have the Celtics waiting for them.

Staff Tips - 
Jez: Magic 4-3
Ryan: Cavs 4-3
Gaz: Cavs 4-2

Milwaukee Bucks (3rd) vs Indiana Pacers (6th)


The Bucks slid down the seeding over the last weekend of regular season action and now will face the young and hungry Pacers. If the Bucks could have picked any team to NOT play in the first round it would have been the Pacers as they lost 4 of 5 regular season games against them this year. 

Giannis Antetekounmpo is under an injury cloud coming into this series and the extra time waiting for the Play-In games to finish could prove pivotal in his rehabilitation. Their not so secret weapon though is Damian Lillard who we all know can pick a team up and put them on his back, especially in clutch situations. Doc Rivers has had half a season to get this team in order and the Bucks fans will be hoping they don’t get to a 3-1 record in this series…

Indiana have absolutely nothing to lose here and are well ahead of their time frame. Tyrese Haliburton was in All-Star form early in the season before being injured and has limped through the last quarter of the season. The addition of Pascal Siakam at the trade deadline is a big improvement in size and skill which will be necessary against this Bucks outfit. The Pacers rank 24th in defence this season and will need to be better if they are any chance of winning.

Staff Tips - 
Jez: Bucks 4-0
Ryan: Bucks 4-2
Gaz: Pacers 4-3

New York Knicks (2nd) vs Philadelphia 76ers (7th)


This series is definitely the biggest one to watch in the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid is back and looks like his MVP self while Jalen Brunson has once again lifted his game to another level. Both teams have strengths and weaknesses that the other will be able to exploit so the expectation is that it will be a long series. 

The Knicks will be without Julius Randle but OG Anunoby will line up and together with Brunson form a formidable duo. The Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t have a great record in the Play-Offs but he hasn’t had a team like this in a while. New York won three of the four games in the regular season and have the momentum coming into this game.

For Philly the time is now, their championship window is getting smaller and smaller for each season and Joel Embiid’s body cannot hold up forever. “The Process” that started all those years ago needs to bear fruit otherwise these Philly fans will be up in arms.

Staff Tips - 
Jez: 76ers 4-2
Ryan: 76ers 4-3
Gaz: 76ers 4-2

Boston Celtics (1st) vs Miami Heat/Chicago Bulls (8th)


Preview to come

Staff Tips - 
Jez:
Ryan:
Gaz:


Western Conference


Los Angeles Clippers (4th) vs Dallas Mavericks (5th)


The Clippers and Mavericks have made a habit in recent years of matching up in the Play-Offs. The 2020 series won by LA went to 6 games and was intensely contested whilst the 2021 first round series was arguably the best series of the entire play-offs that year. LA also came away with the win there 4-3 and now Dallas will look to reverse the numbers and finally get past the Clippers and the first round.

The star-power on show in this series is amazing and we should be thankful that we get to see all players participating. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the Clippers together with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving for the Mavs.

LA won 2 of the 3 regular season games played this year but they were early on in the proceedings with a lot happening to both teams since then. Daniel Gafford has joined the Mavericks since those games and has had an immense impact on the attacking end especially in the pick-and-roll. 

Everything though comes eventually down to whether the stars are on the court. Kawhi has notoriously not been able to finish seasons thanks to injuries and PG13 has had his fair share this season too. If those two are playing LA win, if not Dallas might finally get one up on the Clips.

Staff Tips - 
Jez: Clippers 4-3
Ryan: Clippers 4-3
Gaz: Mavericks 4-3

Minnesota Timberwolves (3rd) vs Phoenix Suns (6th)


Minnesota tussled all season with the Nuggets and Thunder for the top seed in the West and it wasn’t until the last weekend of games that it was all set in place. This very matchup on the last day of play helped the Suns secure 6th by winning 125-106 and also meant the T-wolves moved down to 3rd.

There are very high hopes and expectations on the Timberwolves this season and rightly so. They have been one of the best defensive teams in the whole NBA and with the franchise having been so poor for a number of years the fans are optimistic. They have not won a play-off series in 20 years but their chances now are better than they have been the past 3 times they have made the playoffs since that last series win. 

Phoenix finally showed how dynamic their team and scoring can be with the Booker, Durant, Beal lineup as they absolutely throttled the Timberwolves top defence in the last game of the season. The Suns won all three games in the regular season against Minnesota and will be confident heading into this matchup that they can continue their momentum and get some return on their investment in the playing roster. 

Staff Tips - 
Jez: Timberwolves 4-1
Ryan: Suns 4-3
Gaz: Timberwolves 4-2

Denver Nuggets (2nd) vs Los Angeles Lakers (7th)


The Lakers coasted through much of the season and their just desserts is a first round matchup with the Nuggets. But if you are going to go to the Finals you would have had to beat them some time so why not get it over and done with straight away and maybe you catch them sleeping. 

LeBron has been on some youth potion lately and at 39 years old is still one of the best players in the NBA on any given night. The Lakers roster together with Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Gabe Vincent are good enough to match it with any team but the question will be whether they can do it 4 times against a Nuggets outfit that are built to win play-off games. 

Denver own the recent head to head numbers against the Lakers winning 8 of the last 8 games straight up. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are arguably the best duo in basketball right now and teams have had trouble all season containing the scoring. In the rare times it has happened that has been when we have seen Aaron Gordon or Michael Porter Jr step up to the plate just showing how the depth of this squad is one of their best attributes. 

The Lakers are a good, even great team but Denver are just so much better.

Staff Tips - 
Jez: Nuggets 4-0
Ryan: Nuggets 4-1
Gaz: Nuggets 4-2

Oklahoma City Thunder (1st) vs New Orleans Pelicans (8th)


Preview to come

Staff Tips - 
Jez:
Ryan:
Gaz:

Finals Matchup & Winner


Jez: Denver Nuggets 4 - 2 Philadelphia 76ers
Ryan: Denver Nuggets 4 - 3 Boston Celtics
Gaz: Dallas Mavericks 3 - 4 Boston Celtics

Finals MVP


Jez: Nikola Jokic
Ryan: Jamal Murray
Gaz: Jayson Tatum

Dark Horse


Jez: Philadelphia 76ers
Ryan: Indiana Pacers
Gaz: Philadelphia 76ers

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