A Closer Look at the First Round of 2021 NBA Playoffs: The Numbers Don’t Lie
The first round of the NBA Playoffs officially concluded Sunday afternoon with the Los Angeles Clippers defeating the Dallas Mavericks and setting the stage for a showdown between LA and the top-seeded Utah Jazz.
Now that half of the teams have been eliminated from championship contention and there are not as many clear-cut underdogs, the stress in the betting world has intensified greatly.
2021 NBA Playoffs: Intro
The Atlanta Hawks were the only team seeded lower than their adversary to make it into the second round after defeating the New York Knicks in five games behind an incredible playoff debut from third-year guard Trae Young, who posted a stat-line of 30.2 points and 9.8 assists and sunk a game-winning floater in his first-ever playoff bout.
The under hit 20 times (46.5%) in 43 total first-round matchups, leaving 23 (53.5%) chances to successfully bet the over.
The Atlanta Hawks won all five games against the New York Knicks by riding the under, meaning that there could be precedent; that being said, they combined with their second-round opponent Philadelphia 76ers to score 252 points in Game One with the over/under set at 220. The Hawks were 11th in average scoring (113.7) and the Sixers were 14th (113.6) during the regular season, although scoring tends to decrease in the playoffs due to the physical defensive nature of the game.
The Utah Jazz managed to do just the opposite of the Hawks and hit the over in all five games against the Memphis Grizzlies after finishing as the NBA’s fourth-highest scoring offense this season. Their next opponent, the LA Clippers, was also inside the top-10 for offensive firepower but hit the under four out of seven times in their opening-round series. Utah made more threes than any other team this season and the Clippers shot long-range shots at a higher percentage than every team, suggesting that this series could devolve into a three-point shootout that favors the “over” bettors.
The Phoenix Suns hit the under in five out of six games against the LA Lakers while their next opponent, the Denver Nuggets, struck the over five out of six times.
The Lakers typically slow the pace of play down drastically whenever they can, giving a reason as to why the Suns found themselves in so many low-scoring affairs in the first round. Conversely, Damian Lillard is considered one of the most explosive players in the Association and had a phenomenal offensive series against Denver, inflating their “over” stats.
This face-off between the Suns and the Nuggets should be somewhere between each team’s first-round over/under fortunes, but the “over” has to be in favor for a Game One where both teams are coming in hot and have their star players performing exceptionally well.
As far as the unmentioned teams, they either split or were a game apart in their series composition. Here are a few quick thoughts on those.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The Nets and the Bucks have the potential to put up astronomical scoring numbers, but be careful of a random cold spell. James Harden has also been ruled out for Game Two and could be withheld even longer than that, which would remove the Nets’ best playmaker and facilitator from the action. Brooklyn found much greater success with Harden in the lineup.
Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated the Nets in all three regular-season matchups, averaging 39.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and five assists. The “Greek Freak” has taken the challenge of proving himself against Durant and the Nets personally and could spoil Brooklyn’s playoff party in short order if he is on his game.
In conclusion, expect all-around high-scoring series that have the potential to boom more than they bust.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.