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NBA play-offs preview and tips: Boston Celtics are ready to step up

The NBA play-in games start on Tuesday evening, marking the beginning of 10 action-packed weeks of NBA play-off action.

When do the NBA play-offs begin?

The traditional NBA play-offs will run from Saturday 15th April until Sunday 18th June at the latest. Dates are provisional and could be brought forward if previous rounds finish early.

Suggested betting tips

Boston Celtics

Memphis Grizzlies (dark horse)

How do the play-offs work?

The top six teams from each Conference will be joined by two winners from the play-in tournament.
1st plays 8th, 2nd plays 7th, 3rd plays 6th and 4th plays 5th, each in a seven-game series.
The team who has the higher ranking will play four games at home and three games on the road. The first team to four wins will advance to the next round.
In the next round, the winner of 1st vs 8th will play the winner of 4th vs 5th, while the winner of 2nd vs 7th will play the winner of 3rd vs 6th. Again, the winner is the first to four wins and the higher-ranked home team will host four of the seven games.
The successful teams will then meet in the Conference Final for a chance to play in the NBA Finals. This format will be followed by both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

Conference Finals prediction

  • Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics
  • Memphis Grizzlies vs Phoenix Suns

Betting odds

In theory, anyone can beat anyone in the NBA, but the intensity is dialled up a notch come play-off time.
The play-in teams are unlikely to cause a first-round upset, given that they'll face the number one and two seeds and it's reflected in the betting odds.
Miami Heat are the most favourably priced of the eight teams participating in the play-in tournament at 250/1, while the Thunder are priced at 750/1.
Milwaukee Bucks are the bookmakers favourite to win their second title in three years at odds of 5/2, but defending champions Golden State Warriors are priced at 10/1.
Runners-up from the last two years, Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns, are priced at 3/1 and 4/1 respectively, which makes them second and third favourites.
The New York Knicks are the biggest price of any team that automatically qualified for the play-offs. The sixth seed from the Eastern Conference is available at 250/1.
The remaining prices are as follows: Philadelphia 76ers at 9/1, Denver Nuggets at 10/1, Los Angeles Lakers at 18/1, Memphis Grizzlies at 20/1, Cleveland Cavaliers at 40/1, Los Angeles Clippers at 40/1, Sacramento Kings at 80/1.


The Milwaukee Bucks are favourites for good reason. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player in the NBA and he has a very talented supporting cast. The Bucks finished the season strongly with the best record in the NBA.
If it wasn't for Khris Middleton's injury last season then Milwaukee may have gone further. The home-court advantage in the play-offs is huge and the Bucks will have that in every game they play.
They're likely to make the Eastern Conference final and at that stage, they're likely to meet the Boston Celtics. If any of the play-in teams or fourth to sixth seeds can knock off Boston or Philly then it'll go down as a major shock.
The Boston Celtics should not have a tough time making the Eastern Conference final because they have more depth than any other team. Defensively, they're mean. And they can score, too.
Just a few weeks ago Boston made a statement by crushing the Bucks 140-99 on their home court. The Celtics took two games from the Warriors when finishing runners-up in 2022 and this team is another year older and a whole lot wiser.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are a duo that any team in the NBA would welcome with open arms. The Celtic's defence, statistically the second-best in the league, can shut down anyone on their home court.

Western Conference

Things are much less clear out in the Western Conference. The Nuggets should progress past the first round and so should the Grizzlies.
The Suns seem likely to knock off the Clippers in less than seven games but third-seed Sacramento Kings and sixth-seed Golden State Warriors is a tough one to call.
The Warriors have been a disaster on the road and with Sacramento having a home-court advantage, they've shown they can outscore teams. However, neither team is likely to make the finals given the Warriors' road form.
When all is said and done, the Phoenix Suns are the most well-rounded team on their side of the bracket and are capable of beating the Denver Nuggets on the road to reach the Western Conference final.
Memphis Grizzlies will have to cope without Steven Adams which is definitely a blow, but they're a young, hungry and deep enough team.
The Lakers could line up as the best play-in team, but get past them and it's a clear run to Western Conference final for the Grizzlies.

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