Make/Miss Playoff Odds (04/02/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Will a team make or miss the NBA Playoffs? Odds courtesy of

The NBA regular season is nearing an end and thirteen of the sixteen playoff spots are all but set (we are assuming Dallas: 100% likely and Milwaukee: 99% likely both are in). In the East five teams are separated by just two and a half games for the seventh and eighth seeds, while out West two teams are angling for the final postseason berth.

Will they, or won't they? Below we look at the odds for the fringe playoff teams to make or miss the postseason and unearth some value bets based on our NBA Playoff Probabilities.

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 that they play past the 82nd game of the season. For example, New Orleans is listed at 13/2 to reach the postseason, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Pelicans they would need to be the eighth seed in the West 13.3% (which is 2/(2+13)) of the time. We project New Orleans to make the playoffs 20.3% of the time, meaning there is value in placing a bet at 13/2 odds.

Brooklyn Nets – Make the Playoffs

The Nets are currently the eighth seed in the East. Brooklyn's 34-40 record is tied with Miami and just a half game ahead of Boston for the final postseason berth. The Nets have won five games in a row and eight of their last ten. Though Brooklyn has a tough final eight games, seven are against playoff teams, the team controls its own playoff destiny.

The oddsmakers say the Nets are even money to reach the postseason, we give Brooklyn nearly a 60 percent chance of holding onto at least the eighth seed.

Additional teams with value to make the playoffs: Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets

Indiana Pacers – Miss the Playoffs

Of the five Eastern Conference teams listed with odds, we project that Indiana has the worst chance of making the playoffs. The Pacers have lost eight of their last ten games and are 2.5 games out of the eighth seed with seven games to play. Of course all of that could change if Paul George returns from injury.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Miss the Playoffs

Don't get it twisted; Oklahoma City is one of the most probable playoff participants (80% likely) of any team listed below. Bookmakers think the Thunder are the most likely team to reach the postseason with 1/11 (or -1100) odds.

But OKC has just a 1.5 game lead over New Orleans. The Thunder are dealing with numerous injury concerns including Kevin Durant being out for the season. Stranger things have happened and at 13/2 odds, there is value in betting against Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City to reach the playoffs.

Additional teams with value to miss the playoffs: Boston Celtics

Odds to Make or Miss the NBA Playoffs

Team (seed) Make Playoffs Miss Playoffs
Indiana Pacers +175 -250
Brooklyn Nets EVEN -140
Miami Heat -400 +250
Charlotte Hornets +600 -1000
Boston Celtics +150 -200
Oklahoma City Thunder -1100 +650
New Orleans Pelicans +650 -1100