NBA Conference Finals Preview: Who to Bet to Make the NBA Finals

Author Image Article By Bryce Derouin GDC - Icon - Black - Info
Date IconLast Updated: 
Share On Your Network
NBA Conference Finals Preview: Who to Bet to Make the NBA Finals
© USA Today

After the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated the defending champion Golden State Warriors in six games, and the Boston Celtics rallied to survive a seven-game series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA Conference finals are set. 

The Denver Nuggets host the Lakers on Tuesday for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, and the Celtics welcome the Miami Heat in the East finals on Wednesday. 

Here are how NBA betting sites have for each matchup and what bets you should target. 

Denver Nuggets (-165) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (+140)

Betting Pick: Nuggets to win the Series at FanDuel Sportsbook

The Nuggets are seeking their first conference title and NBA Finals appearance in franchise history. Denver’s last three conference final appearances also came against the Lakers with the Nuggest falling in 1985, 2009 and 2020. The Nuggets did make one ABA Finals when it was a member of the league. 

This year’s matchup may be decided by Anthony Davis’ ability to limit Denver’s two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic, who is averaging a near triple-double this postseason with 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game. In their limited action against each other in the regular season, Jokic held the advantage. 

During 22 matchup minutes, Jokic recorded 37 points, six assists and had three turnovers while making 16 of 25 shot attempts, including 15 of 18 from inside the arc. During Monday's media session, Lakers coach Darvin Ham said that Davis would start games on Jokic before Los Angeles experiments with different looks on him from there. 

One reason Los Angeles’ defense was so effective against Golden State was the Warriors' inability to hit shots from the perimeter, especially in road games. Golden State made just 30% of 3s on the road during the postseason and was just 34% overall for the playoffs. Meanwhile, Denver has the second-best 3-point postseason percentage (38%) and has five players shooting 39% or higher this postseason. 

Fatigue must also be a concern for the Lakers. James admitted as much after Los Angeles eliminated Golden State. 

“I may have looked like I was conserving my energy but I was dead tired after every one of them games. Same with tonight,” James said. “You know, you really don’t have the opportunity to conserve your energy versus a Golden State team because they always keep you on your heels.”

The combination of Jokic’s dominance, Denver’s hot shooting and the potential for a tired James has me leaning toward the Nuggets series moneyline

Nuggets vs. Lakers Series Odds
Best Odds
Caesars
BetMGM
DraftKings
FanDuel
Sign-Up Offer
Timberwolves
--
--
Mavericks
--
--
Teams Best Odds
Timberwolves
Sportsbook Odds Claim
Up To $1,500 in Bonus Bets If Your First Bet Loses
Bonus Code: GAMBLINGCOM
Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Must be 21+ to participate. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (CO, DC, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY) Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY). Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-327-5050 (MA), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI). Visit BetMGM.com for T&Cs. US promotional offers not available in NY, NV, or Puerto Rico.
Mavericks
Sportsbook Odds Claim
Get a No Sweat Bet up to $1,500 + Get a No Sweat NBA SGP Every Day of NBA Playoffs
Must be 21+ and in a legal betting state to participate. T&Cs apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
x
$1,000 First Bet on Caesars
Promo Code: GAMBLING1000
Visit Site
Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.
x
Up To $1,500 in Bonus Bets If Your First Bet Loses
Bonus Code: GAMBLINGCOM
Visit Site
Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Must be 21+ to participate. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (CO, DC, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY) Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY). Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-327-5050 (MA), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI). Visit BetMGM.com for T&Cs. US promotional offers not available in NY, NV, or Puerto Rico.
x
Get a No Sweat Bet up to $1,500 + Get a No Sweat NBA SGP Every Day of NBA Playoffs
Visit Site
Must be 21+ and in a legal betting state to participate. T&Cs apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
x
Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets If Your Bet Wins
Visit Site
Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.

Best NBA Promos

NBA Promo Sportsbook + Promo Code
🏀 Get up to $1,250✅ Caesars - GAMBLINGFULL
🏀 Up to $1,000✅ BetMGM - GAMBLINGCOM
🏀 Bet $5 Get $150 in Bonus Bets✅ FanDuel - NO CODE NEEDED
🏀 Bet $1 Get $200✅ Bet365 - GAMBLING
🏀 Bet $5 Get $150✅ DraftKings - NO CODE NEEDED
🏀 Get up to $250✅ Betway - NO CODE NEEDED

Boston Celtics (-525) vs. Miami Heat (+400)

Pick: Celtics Series Spread -1.5 (-195) at DraftKings Sportsbook

After stumbling throughout the postseason, the Celtics finally looked like the title-betting favorite in a 112-88 win over the 76ers. Jayson Tatum backed up his assertion that he was one of the top players in the league by setting an NBA record for the most points scored in a Game 7, finishing with 51 while making 17 of 28 shot attempts. 

This series can be simplified by whether or not the Celtics can make shots from 3-point range. Boston had the second-most made 3s during the regular season and tallied the sixth-best team 3-point percentage (38%) on the second-most attempts (42.6). The Celtics are 36-2 this season when making at least 40% of their 3s and just 29-28 when they convert less than 40% from beyond the arc. Boston currently leads all postseason teams with a 40% make rate from 3. 

The four regular-season games between the two teams were because of Boston’s ability to shoot from 3. In the two Celtics wins, Boston made 42.4% and 49% from 3, while in the two losses, it was held to 33% and 31%. 

Given the Celtics’ latest improvement from beyond the arc, making 43% in the Game 6 win over the 76ers and 46% in Game 7, I’ll look to back the Celtics and take the series spread against a Miami team that ranked in the lower half in 3-point defense during the regular season (36.2%).

Celtics vs. Heat Series Odds
Best Odds
Caesars
BetMGM
DraftKings
FanDuel
Sign-Up Offer
Celtics
--
--
Pacers
--
--
Teams Best Odds
Celtics
Sportsbook Odds Claim
Up To $1,500 in Bonus Bets If Your First Bet Loses
Bonus Code: GAMBLINGCOM
Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Must be 21+ to participate. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (CO, DC, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY) Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY). Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-327-5050 (MA), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI). Visit BetMGM.com for T&Cs. US promotional offers not available in NY, NV, or Puerto Rico.
Pacers
Sportsbook Odds Claim
Get a No Sweat Bet up to $1,500 + Get a No Sweat NBA SGP Every Day of NBA Playoffs
Must be 21+ and in a legal betting state to participate. T&Cs apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
x
$1,000 First Bet on Caesars
Promo Code: GAMBLING1000
Visit Site
Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.
x
Up To $1,500 in Bonus Bets If Your First Bet Loses
Bonus Code: GAMBLINGCOM
Visit Site
Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Must be 21+ to participate. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (CO, DC, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY) Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY). Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-327-5050 (MA), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI). Visit BetMGM.com for T&Cs. US promotional offers not available in NY, NV, or Puerto Rico.
x
Get a No Sweat Bet up to $1,500 + Get a No Sweat NBA SGP Every Day of NBA Playoffs
Visit Site
Must be 21+ and in a legal betting state to participate. T&Cs apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
x
Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets If Your Bet Wins
Visit Site
Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.

Updated by GDC - Icon - Black - Info

Bryce Derouin

Last Updated Icon

Last Updated:  

Share:
Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Linkedin Icon Email Icon Copy Link Icon