NBA Playoffs 2020: Updated Postseason Odds, Schedule, Dates and PredictionsAugust 21, 2020
The NBA is moving at warp speed.
As if getting a day's worth of playoff thrillers wasn't enough, Thursday night also brought about the latest draft lottery. Congratulations are in order for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who secured the first overall pick. And, as per usual, condolences are out to the New York Knicks, who haven't improved their lottery spot since 1985 and fell back two places to eighth.
Before hoop heads can catch their collective breath, another four-game slate is on deck for Friday. So, let's not waste any time and get to the latest championship odds (per Caesars Palace), the postseason dates you need to know and our predictions for the four series on Friday's schedule.
Updated NBA Championship Odds
Los Angeles Clippers +275
Los Angeles Lakers +325
Milwaukee Bucks +375
Toronto Raptors +700
Boston Celtics +800
Houston Rockets +850
Denver Nuggets +1800
Miami Heat +2000
Portland Trail Blazers +2000
Dallas Mavericks +3000
Utah Jazz +3500
Oklahoma City Thunder +10000
Philadelphia 76ers +25000
Orlando Magic +50000
Indiana Pacers +50000
Brooklyn Nets +500000
Key NBA Postseason Dates
August 31: Conference semifinals begin
September 15: Conference finals begin
September 30: NBA Finals begin
October 13: Latest possible date for NBA Finals
Friday, Aug. 21 NBA Playoff Schedule and Series Predictions
Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets: 1:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV
Does the NBA hand out participation trophies? Would the Nets even collect them since half their original roster isn't actually participating in the playoffs?
These are the questions we're left to ponder with the Raptors holding the 2-0 series lead everyone expected.
Toronto should probably sweep this series and will if Caris LeVert can't find his shot. Brooklyn's temporary go-to scorer is just 10-of-36 overall (27.8 percent) and 0-of-6 from distance through the first two games of this series.
Prediction: Raptors in four.
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz: 4 p.m. ET on TNT
With Bojan Bogdanovic on the shelf and Mike Conley briefly out of the bubble for the birth of his son, the Jazz needed Donovan Mitchell to be special. He's on the verge of redefining the term.
In Game 1, he flooded the stat sheet with 57 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a steal in a game that Utah actually didn't win (thanks, in no small part, to Jamal Murray's 36-point, nine-assist gem). Mitchell followed that up with an absurdly efficient 30-point performance, hitting 10-of-14 from the field and 6-of-7 from range in the Jazz's 124-105 Game 2 victory.
"He is making the right play, and it shows his mentality that he's able to do what he did the other day, and then tonight, in a different situation against different coverages and adjustments, he continued to make the right play," Jazz coach Quin Snyder told reporters afterward.
The Nuggets need to cool Mitchell off quickly, but that's obviously easier said than done—especially with no Gary Harris. The margin for error in this series is minimal, but Mitchell is making it harder to bet against Utah.
Prediction: Jazz in six.
Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers: 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT
The Sixers' nightmare is becoming their reality. Maybe this was always inevitable once Ben Simmons went under the knife, but if felt like Philly could maybe make Boston sweat since Joel Embiid is such an impossible cover for the Shamrocks.
Well, Embiid is scoring at will (30.0 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting), and Philadelphia still can't get within arm's reach of Boston. The Celtics opened the series with an eight-point triumph, then sprinted to a 27-point win in Game 2. Oh, and now Embiid is getting frustrated.
"Jayson [Tatum] has been killing it. You have to find a way to get the ball out of his hands," Embiid told reporters. "They want me to stay back...but we've got to make adjustments. Something's got to change. It feels too easy."
The Sixers seem overpowered and undermanned, and it's hard to imagine that changing in a significant way going forward. There might be a game or two in which Embiid gets rolling and a few of his teammates join him for the ride, but this potentially thorny matchup is becoming a rather comfortable one for Boston.
Prediction: Celtics in five.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks: 9 p.m. ET on TNT
If this series seems tighter than the typical 2-7 matchup, that's because it is. While the standings may have shown a split that wide between the teams, advanced metrics viewed them much more closely bunched. While the Clippers finished second in net efficiency rating (plus-6.3 points per 100 possessions), the Mavericks were only four spots behind (plus-4.8).
It makes sense, too, when you think about it. L.A. might've entered the round with superior depth, but each club follows the lead of two stars: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the Clippers; Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis for the Mavericks.
So far, the Mavs are getting the better of the star showdowns. Doncic leads the series in points (35.0) and assists (8.0), and Porzingis has been a much more efficient shooter (45.5/50.0/81.3) than George (35.9/28.6/100).
Dallas won't go down without a fight, and with Doncic at the helm, Rick Carlisle's club packs a mighty punch. Still, the Clippers might have the best roster in the NBA, and that could make the difference eventually.
Prediction: Clippers in six.