Best Outsiders To Make The Playoffs – Odds, Tips & Predictions

Nearing the All-Star break of the NBA season, there are a number of teams who have already all but locked up their spot in the NBA playoffs – even if not mathematically so, with enough certainty that NBA betting sites have removed the markets for them to make the playoffs. The vast majority, however, are still embroiled in the battle for the eight spots in each conference. A handful of those are more than likely to make it and their betting odds suggest as much, but further down the list there are a few teams that shape up as offering a bit of value to sneak into the postseason. Below, you can check out all the odds for each team to make it to the playoffs, before we dive into our three best value bets in both the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference to make it.

Favourites to Make the NBA Playoffs

New York Knicks  $1.02$1.02$1.02
Miami Heat $1.10$1.10$1.10
Indiana Pacers $1.10$1.10$1.10
Phoenix Suns $1.13$1.13$1.13
Sacramento Kings  $1.14 $1.14 $1.14 
Orlando Magic  $1.17$1.17$1.17
New Orleans Pelicans  $1.20$1.20$1.20
Dallas Mavericks   $1.30$1.30$1.30
Los Angeles Lakers  $2.04  $2.04  $2.04  
Atlanta Hawks $3.60$3.60$3.60
Golden State Warriors   $4.15$4.15$4.15
Chicago Bulls  $4.35$4.35$4.35
Toronto Raptors  $6.50$6.50$6.50
Brooklyn Nets  $8.50$8.50$8.50
Utah Jazz  $8.50$8.50$8.50
Houston Rockets  $10.00$10.00$10.00
Charlotte Hornets $13.00$13.00$13.00
Detroit Pistons  $31.00$31.00$31.00
Washington Wizards  $31.00$31.00$31.00

Eastern Conference Outsiders to Make the Playoffs

Chicago Bulls ($3.14)  

The Bulls are no world beaters – that’s become abundantly clear throughout the course of the DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic era. At best they are a mid tier team, but LaVine’s injury problems appear to have been a blessing in disguise for this team. With him out, Coby White has flourished, and a team led by he and DeRozan has been reasonably competitive for an extended period of time now. After beginning the season 5-14, they are 19-13 going back all the way to the beginning of December, and given that period spans more than two months it’s safe to assume that it’s relatively indicative of where this team is at. That run has put them into ninth place in the Eastern Conference at the time of writing, but with the Magic above them faltering slightly they are every chance of working their way up a little higher. If they keep winning at the rate that they have been for the past couple of months over the remainder of the season they will end up with an above .500 record, which at worst will probably have them inside the top eight in the Eastern Conference. If they manage that, they will have two chances to make it into the playoffs through the Play-In Tournament, which will have them at substantially better than the $4.35 odds currently on offer for them to make the playoffs. Even if they don’t finish that high, it seems pretty likely they’ll at least make the Play-In Tournament given they are 3.5 games clear of 11th at the time of writing. The Bulls are not a great team, but they are a solid one, and to me they should be somewhere in the $2-3 range to make the playoffs at this point in time. The $4.35 on offer for them at the time of writing looks like pretty decent value.  

What brings them here? With a couple of quality players the Bulls should really be at least a mid-tier team, and with Coby White taking a strong step forward and the team gelling better without LaVine, they look like at least competing for a playoff spot.
What could hold them off? The Bulls have been forced to battle their way back into playoff contention after a shocking start to the season, and barring a huge finish to the season they will have to fight their way into the playoffs through the Play-In Tournament.

Injury report. Both Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball won’t be playing again for the rest of the season through injury, and the former may never again play for the Bulls. Torrey Craig is also expected to be out until late February.

Bet on the Chicago Bulls to make the playoffs @ $4.35 with PlayUp

Atlanta Hawks ($3.60) 

There is not all that much to say about the Atlanta Hawks. They’re fine. Trae Young is imperfect but a very good player, Dejounte Murray is solid enough, Jalen Johnson is a promising young player already having an impact. They’re certainly not good, but they’re not that bad either, and they’re very much in the mix to make the playoffs despite a relatively uninspiring 22-28 record over their first 50 games of the season. They have had an uncanny knack in recent times to pretty much trade wins for losses, although they did actually hit a bit of form towards the end of January, winning four games in a row against the Raptors, Lakers, Suns and Warriors. That was an impressive streak and they followed it up with a tight loss to the very impressive Clippers, so there is some cause for optimism – at least to the extent that they can compete for a playoff spot this season. As I write this they sit in tenth place, just inside the Play-In Tournament positions, two games ahead of the Nets in 11th and a probably insurmountable six games back from the Pacers in sixth place and an automatic playoff spot. Likely they will need to win their way into the playoffs through the Play-In Tournament, and likely they will have to do it the hard way by winning two of two games from 9th or 10th position, too. But it certainly isn’t out of the realms of possibility. To me, they look like a similar if not slightly worse chance of making it than the Bulls so I don’t like their inferior odds quite as much, but at $3.60 there is still some value to be had, particularly given their recent form. 

Bet on the Atlanta Hawks to make the playoffs @ $3.60 with PlayUp

Brooklyn Nets ($8.50)

After the Bulls on the betting agencies’ list of team odds to make the playoffs in the East is the Raptors, but one further back, the Nets look like a better chance than their northern neighbours and are better odds, too. They’re three games ahead of the Raptors at the time of writing and yet boast $8.50 odds to make the playoffs compared to the $6.50 of the Raptors, and though realistically both sides are up against it to make the postseason, the Nets certainly look like the better value pick. Like the teams above them in this list, they aren’t a superstar team by any means. They’re a motley crew of capable players battling for supremacy on a team lacking any clear number one options, each of whom should realistically probably be a third choice offensive player at best on another team. Mikal Bridges is a nice player but is better suited to a role where he doesn’t have to be the number one guy, while Cam Thomas is their most capable scorer but one who, despite his elite tough shotmaking ability, takes a hell of a lot too many tough shots and wanes in production on a nightly basis. Claxton is a nice enough young player at center, Cam Johnson provides an outside threat – the list goes on of players who fill a role, but without anyone who should be more than a really good role player on another team they’re never going to do too much damage. So where does that leave them this season? They’re certainly not going to make any noise in the playoff, but they do have enough pieces that they’re able to beat the teams below them and compete with their fellow mid-tier sides. At the time of writing they’re a couple of spots out of the Play-In Tournament positions and have split their last six games three apiece. That seems pretty much what they’re likely to do for the rest of the season. At 20-30 they’ll need to pick up that winning rate to give themselves a postseason hope, but they’re not all far off the pace. It’s still unlikely that they will make the playoffs, but at $8.50 to do so they’re not the worst bet out there by any means.
What brings them here? After the Durant, Irving, Harden era ended abruptly, the Nets promptly fell down the standings, but they picked up enough decent pieces along the way to avoid going all he way to the bottom.
What could hold them off? Their lack of real top-end talent. If they had a superstar at their disposal the rest of this roster would make for a really nice group of complementary players, but to put it simply, they do not.  
Injury report. The Nets have a number of short to medium term injuries on their roster, including Cameron Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Lonnie Walker IV.    

Bet on the Brooklyn Nets to make the playoffs @ $8.50 with PlayUp

Western Conference Outsiders to Make the Playoffs

Golden State Warriors ($4.15) 

It has become abundantly clear over the course of this season that the golden era is over for the Warriors. Klay Thompson is not the player that he once was, Draymond Green’s troubles have been well-documented, and though Steph is defying Father Time he has still had a few more very un-Curry like games this season than usual – though he is far from the problem. But not all is lost in Golden State. While it has taken some time for them to realise, they actually have a fair bit of young talent at their disposal. Jonathan Kuminga has taken a massive step forward with an increased role, Brandon Podziemski has been a solid pick-up, Dario Saric has been a nice pick-up and Moses Moody has shown his talent when given an opportunity. It’s a bit of an awkward, in-between time for the team, with head coach Steve Kerr trying to balance giving his young players time on the court and sticking fat with the players who brought the team four championships, but as the season has worn on they do appear to be finding something resembling equilibrium. At the time of writing the Warriors are out of the playoffs in 11th with a sub .500 record, but they are only a game out of the Play-In Tournament spots and are hitting some decent form. Over the end of January and beginning of February they won four of five games, and harking back to their last six games the only ones that they have lost have been in overtime. This is no longer the team that it once was, but they still have plenty of guys – and still led by Steph Curry – who can score quickly, and are capable of beating most teams on their night. Given their championship pedigree, the presence of young talent and the fact that they sit just a game outside of the Play-In Tournament, their odds to make the playoffs with betting sites being over $4.00 makes them particularly good value. 
What brings them here? The Warriors would have been hoping to continue to hold off Father Time this season, and while they have failed they have also found some good young talent and have enough pieces to make the playoffs at decent odds.
What could hold them off? Are they too old/too young? It’s strange to ask both questions, but the Warriors are dealing with them both at the same time. Can Thompson and Green give them enough to make the playoffs? Are Kuminga and co ready to compete for a postseason spot? 
Injury report. The Warriors have had a few niggles to major players but nothing too significant. Gary Payton II has been out for a few weeks with a hamstring but returned to training in early February. 

Bet on the Golden State Warriors to make the playoffs @ $4.15 with PlayUp

Los Angeles Lakers ($2.04)

The Lakers have been hovering right at around even money to make the playoffs for much of the season, and nearing the All-Star break that’s still where they find themselves. After endless speculation about whether they would make a major move during the trade period, they stuck fat with the squad that they have, with the strong form of D’Angelo Russell – perhaps the most discussed potential trade target – seemingly providing them with some impetus to hang onto him. There is always a lot of interest in the Lakers and with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the team, that is as much the case as ever, but on what they’ve shown so far this season this is simply an average team – they’re below league average on offence, and right around the average mark on defence. But with those two stars on the team, as well as the capable Austin Reaves and a seemingly improved Russell – Gabe Vincent will also come in mighty handy once he returns around February – this is a tough team to completely write off. They’re slightly above .500 at the time of writing and locked in logjam in the middle of the Western Conference, 3.5 games out of the safety of sixth spot but just two games ahead of 11th. Anything is possible for them from here – they could make the playoffs without having to go through the Play-In Tournament, they could have to battle their way in through that Play-In, or they could miss the postseason entirely. But there is reason to believe they can step it up a notch when it matters most. Last season they were in the Play-In only to make it through to the Conference Finals, and with most teams below them inferior in talent and a couple of teams above them gettable, this team looks very capable of making the playoffs at better than even money odds.
What brings them here? Any team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be expecting to compete for the playoffs, while the strong form of D’Angelo Russell has given them a fourth quality scoring option.
What could hold them off? Do they have enough outside of their stars? The supporting role has been a big issue this season, while it’s also relevant that LeBron, as good as he still is, is 39 years old.  
Injury report. Gabe Vincent has been one absentee throughout the season, and he isn’t expected to be available until February. Jarred Vanderbilt will also be out until around Feb.

Bet on the Los Angeles Lakers to make the playoffs @ $2.04 with PlayUp

Utah Jazz ($8.50) 

On paper, the Utah Jazz certainly don’t look like a playoff team, but they are living proof of the old adage that basketball is not played on paper, and at long odds they look like decent value to make the playoffs this season. Certainly they are up against it – though they currently sit inside the Play-In Tournament spots at the time of writing, they will have to either get past some good teams to make the playoffs outright – hard to imagine them doing – or beat some talented ones in the Play-In Tournament. All the teams around them have much more top end talent, but one thing that the Jazz have in their favour is that they are well-rounded, very well coached and seem to have bought in to the system implement by new coach Will Hardie. Lauri Markkanen is their best player, but Collin Sexton has been excellent, John Collins is having a good season, Jordan Clarkson is a sparkplug off the bench and Keyonte George looks like a really good pickup. It’s certainly not a team of stars, but somehow they make it work and they have now been on a strong run for an extended enough period of time that it looks like this is just how good they are. In the two months from the middle of December through to the middle of February, they went 19-10 – that was after winning just seven of their first 23 games. It’s been easy throughout that time to assume that the period of good form will be just that and will ultimately come to an end, but it just hasn’t. Three losses in a row to end January and begin February looked like they might be coming back to earth, but then they went and beat first the Bucks and then the Thunder. They’re clearly not as talented a team as really anyone around them and assuming they have to go through the Play-In Tournament, they will have to beat teams against which they will potentially not have either of the best two players in the series. That doesn’t bode particularly well, but this is a team which continues to surprise, and at really long odds they are far from the worst bet to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. 

What brings them here? An extended run of good form, which has been a product of team cohesion, quality coaching and a group of players which knows exactly what they each need to do to keep this team winning.  

What could hold them off? A lack of talent. Markkanen is a really good player while Sexton has proven he is more than deserving of a starting role in the league, but they don’t have anything like the top-end talent of most of the teams around them.  

Injury report. The Jazz have been reasonably fortunate with injury throughout the season – Markkanen has missed a few games but he is now back and they have virtually a full roster to choose from.

Bet on the Utah Jazz to make the playoffs @ $8.50 with PlayUp 

There are a number of teams for whom betting agencies have already switched off the odds to make the playoffs, while a handful of others are likely enough to make it that there is no value to be had betting on them to do so. The teams above, however, are the outsiders who could give making the postseason a shake, and who appear to offer decent value to make it. For a while now I have been saying that the Bulls look overs to play in the postseason, and that has not changed. They are not a great team but there is room in the Eastern Conference for a couple of average teams in the playoffs, and they could certainly be one of them. They have been winning at a pretty decent clip for an extended period now – incidentally a period during which Zach LaVine has hardly played, and he will miss the rest of the season with injury now too. That is obviously not something anyone would hope for, but perhaps it will be a blessing in disguise for the Bulls. They, to me, seem like an even money or perhaps slightly worse chance of making the postseasons, so the odds on offer for them to make it right now look particularly juicy. 

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James is a sports writer from Melbourne, and has contributed to a variety of publications covering a range of sports including basketball, cricket, Australian Rules, golf and surfing to name a few. An avid fan of all of the above and more, James’ downtime is spent falling ungracefully off his surfboard, turning over footies and playing an out of tune guitar.

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