Best Bets for NBA Playoffs Round One and Play-In Tournament

  • The Los Angeles Lakers are 8.5-point favorites over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves (+285) in the NBA Play-In Tournament.
  • The Sacramento Kings will play their first playoff game in 16 years against the Golden State Warriors on April 15.
  • The reigning champion Golden State Warriors are 1-point underdogs in Sacramento.

LOS ANGELESLeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers enter the NBA Playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers are 8.5-point favorites against the Minnesota Timberwolves, likely due to the absence of key Minnesota defenders.

Timberwolves Earn 8-Seed Despite Team Meltdown

The Timberwolves overcame adversity in their crucial win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. With the win, they now face the Los Angeles Lakers (-370) in the NBA Play-In Tournament as 8.5-point underdogs.

The adversity was self-inflicted, as Rudy Gobert received a one-game suspension after his altercation with Kyle Anderson on the Timberwolves’ bench. The T-Wolves will be without their starting center in a must-win game against the Lakers.

In addition to Gobert, the Timberwolves will also be without their star defender Jaden McDaniels. McDaniels fractured his hand after punching a wall on his way to the halftime locker room.

McDaniels impact will be felt on the defensive end, as he has shut down opposing teams’ star players on multiple occasions. This includes Lakers star LeBron James, along with other premier league talent such as Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic who all saw over a 10-point scoring decrease when guarded by McDaniels.

To advocate for Jaden McDaniels to make the NBA All-Defensive first team, the Timberwolves website shows players season points average compared to their average when guarded by McDaniels. LeBron James will benefit from McDaniels absence, as he recorded a -12.7-point differential when guarded by Jaden McDaniels.

Without McDaniels to cover LeBron, or three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner Rudy Gobert to guard Anthony Davis, the Lakers have great value to cover their 8.5-point spread on online sportsbooks. Without their two best defensive players, the Timberwolves are deservingly the biggest underdog in both the Play-in Tournament and the NBA Playoffs.

Light the Beam in Sacramento (-1)

The Sacramento Kings are making their first playoff appearance since 2006 and are one-point favorites against the Golden State Warriors. The energy in the Golden 1 Center will represent the most difficult road atmosphere the Warriors have faced all season.

That’s bad news for Golden State, who went 10-30 on the road this season. They split their two games played in Sacramento, with their lone road win holding little significance towards game one of this playoff series.

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The Warriors win in Sacramento was on the 81st game of the 2023 NBA season, with the Kings already locked in for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. As a result, notable Kings starters like De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, and Domantas Sabonis watched from the sideline.

The key to Sacramento’s victory will be winning the turnover battle. The Golden State Warriors average over 16 turnovers per game, the worst in the NBA.

De’Aaron Fox will look to repeat his stat line when he last played the Warriors, as he recorded three steals in the Kings 122-115 victory. Both De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Huerter average over one steal per game, which will have an impact on the Kings’ success in forcing turnovers.

The Sacramento Kings have -110 odds to cover the 1-point spread as favorites, and -115 odds to win outright. The smarter play is to take the Kings money line because of the risk of them only winning by one point and resulting in a push.

On a $100 wager, the payout difference between Kings -1 and Kings money line on NBA sportsbooks is only $5 dollars.

Based on the Warriors’ road struggles and the overwhelming excitement from playoff-deprived Kings fans, Sacramento is in great position to win game one in a loud environment.