Best Bets to Clinch Final Three Playoff Spots in NBA East

Best Bets to Clinch Final Three Playoff Spots in NBA East

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The bottom of the NBA Eastern Conference playoff race doesn’t feature the best teams in the league but it is making for good drama. Top bookmakers have NBA betting odds on which of five contending teams will grab the final three playoff spots.

Here’s the picture entering Monday:

NBA Eastern Conference standings, spots 6-10

6. Detroit Pistons39-37-
7. Brooklyn Nets39-380.5
8. Miami Heat38-381
9. Orlando Magic38-391.5
10. Charlotte Hornets35-414

Pistons Rack Up Critical Wins

It looked like the Pistons were a lock for the postseason after they won eight of nine after the All-Star break thanks to their very efficient offense in the season’s second half. But they lost six of nine after that streak, putting them in this mess of an East playoff race.

But they earned two critical victories last week, Thursday over the red-hot Magic and Saturday against the Trail Blazers. That moved Detroit back above .500, into sixth place and gave the Pistons the tiebreaker over Orlando.

That means the Pistons are in the postseason unless they’re passed by the Magic or tied with the Hornets. They’ve also won 11 straight at home and get three of their last six in Detroit.

For those reasons, they’re a very safe bet to make the postseason at -5000 at SugarHouse.

Brooklyn Nets a Safe Playoff Bet

The Nets are far and away the best team on this list, and they’ve got a one-game cushion on ninth place. But they also have the NBA’s most difficult schedule over the final 12 days of the regular season. Still, there’s just too much mediocrity beneath them to think that two teams will jump them over the final few games.

D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen will come up with some clutch performances, and this team’s backcourt depth will lead to the postseason. Their biggest game of the year might be their last, when they host the Miami Heat. Bet Brooklyn to make the postseason at -278 at 888Sport.

Magic Should Sneak into Playoffs

The Magic weren’t supposed to be here after a quiet offseason. And yet, with just a handful of games remaining their postseason outlook appears bright. Their six-game win streak was snapped in Detroit on Thursday but they responded with a massive road win Saturday at Indiana. Orlando will play three of its last five on the road but this still feels like a playoff team.

The biggest factor the Magic have going for them is that they hold the tiebreaker over the Heat, having won the season series 3-1 including a victory March 26 at Miami. So, of course, the Magic only needs to tie the Heat in the standings. That’s significant, because the Magic’s remaining strength of schedule (.460) is much easier than Miami’s (.578).

Our guess is these two teams tie in the standings, meaning Orlando gets the nod as the No. 8 seed. They’re a good value bet at -278 at SugarHouse.

Heat Unable to Put It Together

They went 3-9 in February, 11-4 in March. That about sums up Miami’s entire season. The Heat never strung together a truly dominant stretch and now they have Boston (twice), Toronto, Philadelphia and Brooklyn remaining on the schedule.

Because they lose a tiebreaker with Orlando, plus the fact that leading scorer Josh Richardson is out with a heel injury, the Heat will likely watch the playoffs from their couches. They’re a good value bet to miss the postseason at -240 at 888Sport.

Too Little, Too Late for Hornets

Too little, too late? That’s what it feels like for the Hornets, who after losing 13 of 18 in a six-week stretch won four straight games over excellent competition – Minnesota, Boston, Toronto and San Antonio – to keep their playoff hopes alive. Then Charlotte turned around and lost to the Lakers and Warriors to end March, all but sealing its fate.

The Hornets still have a tough remaining schedule, too, meaning their +1200 odds at SugarHouse to make a miracle run to the postseason aren’t worth betting on.

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