NBA Playoffs 2020: Postseason Schedule, Bracket Format and Odds

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) handles the ball against Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott (20) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Lofty expectations accompany the Los Angeles Lakers into the NBA postseason. 

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. have looked strong all season, but now they have to get through three potentially difficult series just to reach the NBA Finals. 

Even with a tougher road ahead compared to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Lakers are viewed as the favorite to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

The Lakers, Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers carry the three best NBA Finals odds going into the playoffs, which start Monday.

While those odds seem right at this point, there is one surprising number attached to a potential title contender that could give it the best title-winning value.  

                  

NBA Playoff Bracket

B/R
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Odds

To Win the Championship

Los Angeles Lakers (+200; bet $100 to win $200)

Milwaukee (+300)

Los Angeles Clippers (+300)

Boston (+1100)

Toronto (+1100)

Houston (+1200)

Denver (+2000)

Portland (+3000)

Miami (+3500)

Oklahoma City (+3500)

Dallas (+4000)

Philadelphia (+5000)

Utah (+7500)

Indiana (+15000)

Orlando (+50000)

Brooklyn (+100000)

Odds via Caesars Palace.

The two Los Angeles teams and Milwaukee are worth the bet now because their prices will likely drop as the postseason goes on. 

Even though they could face tests along the way, each of the three is expected to win at least two postseason series. 

Milwaukee has the easiest path of the trio, since it opens with Orlando and then has to face Miami or Indiana. 

The Lakers could be forced to slow down Damian Lillard and James Harden in back-to-back series, which would be a tough task for their revamped backcourt. 

The Clippers have to deal with Luka Doncic in the first round, but the defensive prowess of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should limit the production of the Dallas star in parts of the series. 

If there is a team that could ruin a potential Lakers-Clippers West finals, it's the Denver Nuggets. 

The development of Michael Porter Jr. in the bubble could be vital to provide support for Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in a potential second-round matchup with the Clippers.

Denver proved in the eight seeding games that it carries a deep bench, and those players displayed in the Monday loss to the Lakers that they are capable of performing at the same level of another team's starters. 

The Nuggets could be the best sleeper pick to win the NBA Finals at +2000, but you could make a case against it since it would have to go through the Lakers and Clippers just to reach the final. 

But the best value beneath the three favorites is assigned to the reigning champion Toronto Raptors at +1100. 

Toronto carries title-winning experience from a year ago and produced the best record of Eastern Conference teams in the eight seeding games. 

The Raptors do not have Leonard this time around, but it still possesses Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and others from the squad that won it all a year ago. 

Nick Nurse's side also worked on its depth at the back end of the seeding games, as players like Chris Boucher, Matt Thomas and Norman Powell received quality minutes to gain confidence going into the postseason.

If Toronto does not experience much of a drop-off from its starters to reserves, it could have its way with Brooklyn in the first round. 

The Nets deserve credit for putting up a winning record in the seeding games, but they lack the depth to compete with the top teams in the East. 

The one concern you could have about Toronto's title chase is it went 2-5 against Milwaukee and Boston, but it did beat the Bucks in the bubble. The Raptors' August 7 loss to Boston can't be a clear indicator of how that potential semifinal matchup will play out, since both teams locked up their respective seeds before then. 

Since Toronto is expected to cruise through the first round and should be competitive with Boston and Milwaukee, now seems like the time to take a chance on it to win back-to-back titles at such a high value compared to other favorites. 

            

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.