NBA Playoffs Day 1: Picks, Predictions, Analysis From The Experts

  • Monday marks the first day of the NBA Playoffs and features four games throughout the day beginning with the Denver Nuggets (-220) against the Utah Jazz (+180).
  • In the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets are +375 underdogs who take on the Toronto Raptors with -550 odds.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers (+210) begin their series against the Boston Celtics (-250).
  • The final game of the evening sees the Dallas Mavericks (+220) facing off against the Los Angeles Clippers (-270).

ORLANDO, Fla. – It is here. The 2020 NBA Playoffs officially begin Monday from the bubble in Orlando.

Making it to this point seemed like an impossible destination back when the teams first packed their bags and headed to Florida.

With the pandemic raging across the country infecting sporting leagues far and wide, many had little hope for the NBA’s contingency plan down in Disney World.

Now, only a few weeks later, basketball fans and bettors stand triumphant after the success of the seeding games both on and off the court. In addition to terrific basketball that saw the heroics of Damian Lillard and the 8-0 unstoppable Bubble Suns, the league saw zero positive COVID-19 tests throughout the campus in Orlando.

This success has brought the game to the 2020 NBA Playoffs right on schedule. The 16 teams are set and the series are ready to begin with four games on the first day of action.

NBA Playoffs – Game 1 – 1:40 p.m. ET

  • Moneyline: UTA (-180) vs. DEN (-220)
  • Spread: Nuggets -5
  • Over/Under: 216 Points

The first game of the day is an afternoon offering between the No. 6 Utah Jazz and the No. 3 Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets showed their depth in the bubble with rookie Michael Porter Jr. coming alive to the tune of 24.5 points per game.

Denver is without starting guard Gary Harris and wingman Will Barton, but still, have plenty of firepower behind Jamal Murray (who is returning from his own hamstring injury) and the ever-present Nikola Jokic.

The Jazz meanwhile have had trouble generating offense after the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic and looked rather mediocre during the seeding games. The Jazz also have to deal with the loss of Mike Conley, who is out of Monday’s game due to personal reasons.

The Jazz will need effective production from Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Joe Ingles, in addition to big contributions from role players like Jordan Clarkson and Jeff Green in order to win this series.

Look for the Nuggets to come out strong in game one while Utah tests new strategies without Conley.

PICK: Nuggets -5

NBA Playoffs – Game 1 – 4:10 p.m. ET

  • Moneyline: BKN (+375) vs. TOR (-550)
  • Spread: Raptors -10
  • Over/Under: 221 Points

The defending champion No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors begin their campaign for another title against the No. 7 seed Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets were one of the better teams in the bubble, posting a 5-3 record in order to cement themselves as the seven seed in the East.

Not much was expected of Brooklyn after key players like Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, and Taurean Prince all announced their decisions to not join the team in the bubble for various reasons.

The Nets apparently didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to be bad and proceeded to rattle off wins against the likes of the Bucks and the Clippers.

Led behind Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris, the Nets head into their matchup against the Raptors with tons of momentum.

Unfortunately for online sports bettors and Brooklyn fans, Toronto is quite good at basketball.

The Raptors looked electric in the bubble, losing only one game and collecting wins over the Bucks, Sixers, Nuggets, Heat, and Lakers.

Pascal Siakam is a problem both in the post and on the perimeter, and Fred VanVleet played some of his best games of his career in the bubble.

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The key for the Nets is to rain threes. The Raptors have one of the best defenses in the league but are bottom five in giving up points from long range. The Nets proved they can duel from three with anyone in their final seeding game matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.

While the Raptors should cruise to a series victory, look for the Nets to keep it within 10 on Monday night before Nick Nurse can figure out how to shut down the scoring.

PICK: Nets +10

NBA Playoffs – Game 1 – 6:30 p.m. ET

  • Moneyline: PHI (+210) vs. BOS (-250)
  • Over/Under: 218.5 Points

In what might be the most mysterious matchup of the first round, the No. 3 Boston Celtics take on the No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers.

The dominating headline of this series is the absence of Ben Simmons, who will miss this game as well as the entire playoffs after undergoing surgery (left knee subluxation) last week.

Simmons is one of the most versatile players in the league, an elite playmaker, and a legitimate DPOY candidate. His absence will completely change the way the Sixers play basketball on both ends of the floor.

The Sixers' only hope in this series is their size. It goes without saying that Joel Embiid needs to play to his full potential to give Philly a chance, but players like Al Horford, Tobias Harris, and Josh Richardson will also need to step up.

The Celtics lack large defenders and will send Daniel Theis to cover Embiid for the majority of important possessions. Outside of the 6’8 Theis, the Celtics only have Grant Williams, Robert Williams, the switchable Marcus Smart, and the defensive turnstile Enes Kanter to attempt to combat Embiid.

If the Sixers cannot take advantage of this mismatch down low, they are guaranteed to get scorched on the outside by Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Gordan Hayward, and Jaylen Brown.

Expect a lethargic Sixers team to get punched in the mouth in Game 1.

PICK: Celtics -6

NBA Playoffs – Game 1 – 9:00 p.m. ET

  • Moneyline: DAL (+220) vs. LAC (-270)
  • Spread: Clippers -6
  • Over/Under: 229 Points

The nightcap of the first day of the playoffs features a Western Conference showdown between the No. 7 Dallas Mavericks and the No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers are one of the three favorites to go deep into these playoffs and start that journey tonight against a spooky Mavs team.

LA rested their stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the majority of the seeding games and will unleash the full power of the dynamic duo Monday night.

The Clippers have a few injury concerns with Montezl Harrel, Patrick Beverly, and Landry Shamet all in questionable status for the game.

On the other side, the Mavericks come into this series with tons to prove but not too much to lose. Few basketball bettors or pundits will be picking the Mavs to win this series, giving Luke Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis freedom to play their game without extreme pressure.

This will be the first playoff series for the new-look Mavericks, with many believing they are still one year away from being a serious contender.

With that in mind, look for Luke to shine, but not enough to stop Kawhi and PG who will come out aggressive in game one.

PICK: Clippers -6

Regardless of which teams win and what bets hit the world can unite in celebration at the beginning of the NBA Playoffs.