NBA Playoff Picture 2020: Bracket, Early Odds and Predictions for Final Teams

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) and Anthony Davis (3) celebrate after defeating the Denver Nuggets 124-121 during an NBA basketball game Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

After months of inactivity followed by a most unusual restart bubble in Orlando, the 2020 NBA playoff picture is nearly complete. On Saturday, the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers will play to determine the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.

Portland will advance with a win, while Memphis needs to win Saturday and then do so again Sunday to secure a place in the playoffs.

The rest of the field is set, and the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets will kick off the postseason Monday afternoon.

Here you will find a rundown of the opening-round matchups, the latest championship odds—according to Caesars Palace—a closer look at some of the Finals favorites and predictions for the postseason's final four teams.


2020 NBA Playoff Bracket, Round 1

Eastern Conference

8. Orlando Magic vs. 1. Milwaukee Bucks

7. Brooklyn Nets vs. 2. Toronto Raptors

6. Philadelphia 76ers vs. 3. Boston Celtics

5. Miami Heat vs. 4. Indiana Pacers


Western Conference

8. Memphis/Portland vs. 1. Los Angeles Lakers

7. Dallas Mavericks vs. 2. Los Angeles Clippers

6. Utah Jazz vs. 3. Denver Nuggets

5. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 4. Houston Rockets


Latest Championship Odds

Los Angeles Lakers 2-1

Los Angeles Clippers 3-1

Milwaukee Bucks 3-1

Toronto Raptors 11-1

Boston Celtics 11-1

Houston Rockets 12-1

Denver Nuggets 20-1

Portland Trail Blazers 30-1

Oklahoma City Thunder 35-1

Miami Heat 35-1

Dallas Mavericks40-1

Philadelphia 76ers 50-1

Utah Jazz 75-1

Indiana Pacers 150-1

Orlando Magic 500-1

Brooklyn Nets 1000-1

Memphis Grizzlies 1000-1


Los Angeles Lakers 2-1

The Los Angeles Lakers have gone from being a regular-season also-ran in 2018-19 to the top team in the Western Conference this year. The addition of Anthony Davis has been a big part of the turnaround, but a healthy LeBron James and a quick building of chemistry between the two have been important parts of the equation.

However, there is questionable depth behind James and Davis, especially with Avery Bradley opting out and Rajon Rondo yet to feature in the bubble because of injury. Offensively, the Lakers were a mess during the seeding period of the restart virtually any time Davis ran cold.

"Their offense has been worse than the Wizards in Orlando—and how many Wizards starters could you name right now?" NBC Sports' Kurt Helin wrote just over a week ago.

However, the offense showed life in a 124-121 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday, thanks in large part to contributions from Kyle Kuzma.

Of course, the Lakers also have James and Davis, not to mention the league's fourth-ranked scoring defense. They should have little trouble navigating the opening round.


Milwaukee Bucks 3-1

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Milwaukee Bucks are the team to beat in the Eastern Conferee because of the presence of likely MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Though he was suspended one game for headbutting the Washington Wizards' Moe Wagner, he'll be back in the lineup against the Orlando Magic—though some believe one game is an underwhelming punishment.

"Giannis got star treatment because anybody else would have at least got two-to-three games, right?" ESPN's Kendrick Perkins said on The Jump (h/t Ryan Homler of NBC Sports Washington). "One-game suspension for headbutting somebody? This is professional basketball. I do not think it's fair. One game."

Even if Antetokounmpo was going to miss the opening game of the series, it's unlikely that the Bucks would struggle against the Magic.

Milwaukee owns the NBA's best record for a reason. The Bucks play excellent team basketball and complement the individual greatness of Antetokounmpo. Even if they got behind a couple of games, the Bucks aren't going to fall to Orlando in a seven-game series.

Like the Lakers, the Bucks should glide through the early rounds of the postseason. Don't be shocked if the two squads meet in The Finals, either.


Predictions for Conference Championships

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors