NBA Playoff Value (03/04/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
NBA Playoff Odds – finding value among the postseason hopefuls. Odds courtesy of

Technically, the Atlanta Hawks are the only team to have clinched a playoff berth. However, oddsmakers believe only a handful of teams are truly competing for the final spots in the postseason.

Below we look for value in the odds for playoff hopefuls to make or miss the postseason. We utilize our NBA Playoff Probabilities to find the likelihood of a given team making the playoffs.

To determine if a team has value we look at what their current odds are to make the playoffs and compare that to our projected odds to reach the postseason. For example, Miami is listed at +125 (5/4) to make the playoffs, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Heat they would need to reach the postseason 44.4% of the time (which is 4/(5 + 4)) of the time. We project Miami to reach the playoffs 45.8% of the time, meaning there is slight value in placing a bet at +125 odds.

Brooklyn Nets

Odds (miss the playoffs): +100, Implied Chance: 50.0%, Projected Chance: 81.7%

If the postseason started today, Brooklyn would be the eighth seed in the East. The Nets have a precarious grasp on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference holding a tiebreaker over Charlotte and with just a half game lead over Indiana.

Brooklyn is well below .500 and ranks as the fourth worst team in our Power Rankings, below average in every offensive and defensive efficiency category. The Nets are projected to finish ninth in the East.

New Orleans Pelicans

Odds (miss the playoffs): -500, Implied Chance: 83.3%, Projected Chance: 96.6%

The Pelicans are one game back of Oklahoma City in the chase for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. A single game does not seem like much of a difference but there is a large talent gap between the two clubs, which should help the Thunder clinch the final playoff spot. Speaking of OKC…

Oklahoma City Thunder

Odds (make the playoffs): -500, Implied Chance: 83.3%, Projected Chance: 91.9%

If you are going to make a future bet, why not double down by wagering that the Pelican will miss the playoffs and the Thunder will make it? Oklahoma City is third in our Power Rankings, one of just four teams that rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Thunder are expecting Russell Westbrook to return to action this week and Kevin Durant is being evaluated for his return from a foot injury this week.

Additional value bets (make the playoffs): Celtics, Pistons and Heat.

Odds to make the 2015 NBA Playoffs

Team Make the Playoffs Odds Needed Proj. Odds
Boston Celtics +300 25.0% 31.9%
Brooklyn Nets -140 58.3% 18.3%
Charlotte Hornets +250 28.6% 25.5%
Detroit Pistons +600 14.3% 21.7%
Indiana Pacers -150 60.0% 56.9%
Miami Heat +125 44.4% 45.8%
New Orleans Pelicans +300 25.0% 3.4%
Oklahoma City Thunder -500 83.3% 91.9%
Phoenix Suns +1100 8.3% 6.0%

Odds to miss the 2015 NBA Playoffs

Team Miss the Playoffs Odds Needed Proj. Odds
Boston Celtics -500 83.3% 68.1%
Brooklyn Nets +100 50.0% 81.7%
Charlotte Hornets -400 80.0% 74.5%
Detroit Pistons -1000 90.9% 78.3%
Indiana Pacers +110 47.6% 43.1%
Miami Heat -175 63.6% 54.2%
New Orleans Pelicans -500 83.3% 96.6%
Oklahoma City Thunder +300 25.0% 8.1%
Phoenix Suns -3000 96.8% 94.0%