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NBA predictions: Denver destined for finals again as Lakers eye play-offs
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Jamie Griffith
LA Lakers' LeBron James one of the biggest stars in the NBA
LA Lakers' LeBron James one of the biggest stars in the NBA

- Play-in system sees seventh and eighth-seeded teams fight for play-off place
- Recommended bets:
LA Lakers to reach play-offs
Denver Nuggets to win Western Conference

The NBA post-season begins this week, starting with a set of play-in games from both conferences before the final-eight from each face off in the standard playoff format.

Lakers look good for victory

The NBA’s play-in system sees the seventh and eighth-seeded teams from a conference face off for a place in the playoffs, with the loser then being granted a second chance by getting to play the winner of the 9th vs 10th clashes. 

In the West, the seventh-placed New Orleans Pelicans will take on the Los Angeles Lakers — winners of the 2020 NBA Championship — and slight preference is for the California-based outfit. 

LA won three of the four clashes between the pair in the regular season, impressively thrashing the Pelicans 133-89 when the two met in the in-season tournament semi-finals in Las Vegas. 


Led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers should have enough to see off their rivals and reach the playoffs.

The Golden State Warriors should see off the Sacramento Kings in the other Western clash, before Steph Curry leads his team past New Orleans and into the playoffs. 

The seventh vs eighth clash in the East will see two playoff regulars face off, with the Philadelphia 76ers hosting the Miami Heat, who were Eastern Conference finalists last year.

With Joel Embiid back, it is difficult to back against the hosts.

Philly won 30 of their 37 games in which Embiid played alongside Tyrese Maxey this season and with their star men fit and the Heat missing key role players Josh Richardson and Duncan Robinson, they look good to prevail.

The Atlanta Hawks should prove too strong for the Chicago Bulls in the other Eastern matchup, but will likely falter against Miami. 

Pacers can get better of Bucks again

There are a few playoff series' which could throw up a shock, with the Cleveland Cavaliers far from a sure thing against the young but exciting Orlando Magic, for example. 

However, no series makes more appeal for a giant-killing than the Milwaukee Bucks’ tie with the Indiana Pacers, who won four of the five clashes between the pair in the regular season. 

The Bucks have endured a tricky end to the campaign, losing 17 of their final 36 games with the appointment of Doc Rivers not quite going to plan.

Given Rivers’ recent failures with star-studded Los Angeles Clippers and 76ers sides, they certainly look vulnerable against a talented Pacers outfit. 


Star man Giannis Antetokounmpo is a doubt for Milwaukee and Indiana - led by Tyrese Haliburton - look too big a price to ignore for this series at 29/20.

Nuggets set to be best in West again

The odds suggest the Boston Celtics have the East already wrapped up so the West is where to look for outright value, and the Denver Nuggets look a big price to take that conference for the second year running. 

Denver notched four more regular-season wins than last season (57 this term) and, with a relatively unchanged roster from last year and likely MVP winner Nikola Jokic in frightening form, they should again do well and defend their title.


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