NBA Playoff Schedule 2020: Updated TV Coverage, Odds and Picks

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8) and Jayson Tatum (0) celebrate during the first half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz are going to Game 7. Elsewhere, the Dallas Mavericks are going home after their second consecutive double-digit loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

It was a busy Sunday in the 2020 NBA playoffs, where the Boston Celtics also grabbed a 1-0 advantage in their second-round series with the Toronto Raptors.

Of course, every day is eventful at this point on the Association's calendar. Monday will be no different, as the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks open their Eastern Conference semifinals, before the Houston Rockets go for a series win and the Oklahoma City Thunder try to force the round's second Game 7.

With so many moving parts, it's never a bad idea to take stock of the scheduling information we do have and reset the field with an updated look at championship odds (via Caesars Palace) and three championship picks worth consideration.


Upcoming NBA Playoff TV Coverage

Monday, Aug. 31

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks | Game 1 | 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | Game 6 | 9 p.m. ET


Tuesday, Sept. 1

Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors | Game 2 | 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets | Game 7 | 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC


Wednesday, Sept. 2

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks | Game 2 | 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | Game 7 | 9 p.m. ET on ESPN (if necessary)


Thursday, Sept. 3

Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors | Game 3 | 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT


NBA Championship Odds

Los Angeles Lakers +220

Los Angeles Clippers +250

Milwaukee Bucks +260

Boston Celtics +800

Toronto Raptors +900

Houston Rockets +1400

Miami Heat +2000

Denver Nuggets +6000

Utah Jazz +6000

Oklahoma City Thunder +30000


NBA Championship Picks

The Favorite: Los Angeles Lakers +220

L.A.'s elite upside speaks for itself, doesn't it?

For all of the questions you might have about this supporting cast and its ability to consistently make shots, it sort of feels silly focusing on anything other than LeBron James and Anthony Davis being teammates. They just collectively averaged 57.2 points, 19.6 rebounds and 14.4 assists while outscoring the Portland Trail Blazers by 66 points over 114 minutes together, and neither probably feels like he played his best series.

As Lakers coach Frank Vogel put it, the Lakers have "two of the best players in the game." They're a nightmare matchup for any defense.

There are two reasons to pause on betting the farm on the Lakers. For one, there are other great teams out there (looking at you, Bucks and Clippers). Second, the role players will need to make shots at some point, and there isn't a great deal of evidence suggesting they'll rise to the occasion.

But again, don't overthink this. The Lakers have James and Davis. Zero in on that, and it'll be hard to put your wagering dollars anywhere else.


The Sleeper: Boston Celtics +800

If you saw the Celtics' takedown of the defending champion Raptors on Sunday, you probably don't need much convincing that this could be a really smart bet.

Boston, which led by as many as 24 points, went wire-to-wire in its 112-94 series-opening win. The Celtics scorched from the three-point arc (17-of-39), got uber-efficient production from their starting backcourt (Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart combined for 39 points on 21 field-goal attempts) and controlled the glass (50-40 rebounding advantage).

"Nothing was much fun out there today," Raptors coach Nick Nurse told reporters.

The Celtics, who improved to 4-1 against the Raptors this season, weren't even anywhere near their top gear Sunday—that's the scary part. Jayson Tatum was fine (21 points on 18 shots), Jaylen Brown was less than that (17 on 18) and Gordon Hayward wasn't around (sprained ankle). Get a full-strength Boston squad rolling, and this club's ceiling stretches as high as any.


The Long Shot: Miami Heat +2000

It's possible no team is better equipped to defend the Bucks—the NBA's wins leader this season and last—than the Heat.

Bam Adebayo is the preferred option to throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo, so much as anyone can actually pester the reigning MVP. Miami then has a slew of other stoppers to either throw at the Bucks' support scorers (like fellow All-Star Khris Middleton) or serve in spot duty on Antetokounmpo, including Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr.

Shot-making is obviously a must for Miami, but the Heat enter their second-round series...well, hot. Duncan Robinson is burying 3.0 triples per night at a 44.4 percent clip so far in the playoffs. Goran Dragic is supplying the same volume with a 41.4 percent success rate. Rookie sharpshooter Tyler Herro is "only" at 36.4 percent (that's still above-average), and he's already at 66 points on 48 field-goal attempts.

The Heat can sport the two-way balance of a heavyweight contender, but as their odds suggest, consistency isn't exactly a strength. Their defenders don't always make shots, and their shooters don't always hold up on defense. They may prove a few two-way players short of making a championship run, but there's plenty of talent at Erik Spoelstra's disposal, and that's usually a potent combination.