A 2024 NBA Playoff Preview: Predictions from a Caesars Sportsbook Oddsmaker

Who will make the playoffs finals? We’ve got some predictions for you to peruse from Ceasars Sportsbook Oddsmaker.

Ryan Slattery
Ryan Slattery

Last Updated: 2024-04-25

Naim Rosinski

5 minutes read

Official Basketball of the NBA and the NBA Playoffs logo

Favoring the odds: Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets 

Are we destined for a Boston-Denver NBA Final? Las Vegas sportsbooks think so.

“It certainly feels that way,” Caesars Sportsbook NBA Lead, David Lieberman told SportsBoom ahead of the start of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. “Their roads won’t be easy by any stretch, but it’s hard to see anyone topping either in a seven-game series at the moment and I would expect both of them to be there at the end.”

It’s not much of a surprise, the two teams are heavily favored to win their conference titles and the odds reflect that. The Boston Celtics (+150 to win the title) rolled through the regular season posting a league-best 64-18 record, while the reigning NBA Champion Denver Nuggets (+300) finished as a two-seed in the western conference losing a tie-breaker to the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder—who not only made a 17-win improvement over last season but is the youngest team in league history, with an average age of 23.4, to earn a top seed. 

The question now is whether these youngsters—led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished third in scoring averaging 30.1 points per game, can handle playoff pressure. Vegas oddsmakers put them at 14-1 to win the championship.

Image Credit: Flag Color Codes

Image Credit: Flag Color Codes

The pressure is also mounting for a Celtics team that centers around a Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown tandem that has been making deep playoff runs for years but have been unable to finish the job. The jettisoning of defensive sparkplug Marcus Smart in the offseason and additions of Kristaps Porzingis (averaging 20.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game) and pesky defender Jrue Holiday could get them their 18th NBA Championship banner. But after finishing a monstrous 14 games ahead of the two-seed New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics will finally be playing meaningful games.

“They ran away with the best record and No. 1 seed in the East pretty early, so it might be a bit of a reality check once the playoffs start,” Lieberman said. “They’re a veteran team who likely learned some things from last year when the Heat knocked them off. We’ll see if they can continue their dominant play when the lights are a bit brighter.”

Missing MVP Antetokounmpo may hinder Bucks playoffs start

But if not Boston, who in the East can make a run?

With news just coming down that the Milwaukee Bucks are preparing to be without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for their opening series against the Indiana Pacers, and health concerns for players like the 76ers Joel Embiid, “the Celtics might just need to not beat themselves to make it to the Finals,” Lieberman said.

Image Credit: Giannis’ account

Image Credit: Giannis’ account

Looking at who could threaten Boston, Lieberman thinks a hungry Pacers could be a bit of a wildcard if they get past a Giannis-less Bucks team. “Their offensive firepower is for real. If they can come up with just a bit of defense, they could make a run to the Eastern Conference Finals and even give the Celtics a scare.”

Lieberman said a “dart throw” on Indiana (40-1) to win the East might be worth a shot.

A look at the West

The wild West, while top heavy, appears to be much more wide open but Lieberman leans to Nikola Jokic and a Nuggets repeat saying they’re “going to be very tough to knock off” and puts them in the conference finals where he likes their opponent to be the Dallas Mavericks. That would set up a classic matchup of this year’s MVP candidates, Jokic and the NBA’s leading scorer Luka Doncic, who averaged 33.9 points per game.

“In the West, I would look at a team who will avoid the Nuggets for the first two rounds, and my pick of those would be the Dallas Mavericks,” Lieberman told SportsBoom. “They’ve been hot lately and made some nice additions at the trade deadline. They also may not see a fully healthy Clippers team in the first round, which will help their chances to advance.”

Can Lakers upset the Nuggets?

The Nuggets first-round opponent will be the Los Angeles Lakers who could prove a tough task for the defending champs with fountain-of-youth-finding 39-year-old LeBron James (averaging 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.3 assists a game) and Anthony Davis (24.7 points, 12.6 rebounds) playing so well.

“The Lakers are playing well enough and should be healthy enough to make a run. They also match up fairly well against the Nuggets,” Lieberman warned. “If somebody is going to knock them off, the Lakers have as good a chance as anyone.”

An exciting first-round series

As for another intriguing first-round matchup, Lieberman believes the Milwaukee-Indiana series has the potential to be a classic.
“Bucks-Pacers should be a lot of fun if Giannis can make it back, given the game ball controversy earlier in the season. Every matchup in the West has a chance to be pretty great as well,” he adds.

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Ryan Slattery
Ryan SlatterySports Writer

Journalist Ryan Slattery has covered all things Las Vegas for the better part of two decades. Entertainment, dining, sports, booze and gambling (it’s Sin City after all). He’s interviewed celebrities, chatted with professional athletes, covered award shows, attended casino-resort openings, and travelled the world in search of a story.