The 2023-24 NBA regular season is over and we’re turning the page to the NBA Playoffs. Throughout the postseason, Jonathan Von Tobel will continue to provide you with his exceptional coverage of the greatest league in the world. Just click here for all of his content. However, all of my picks will be featured in this daily column, which will combine my NBA best bets and NBA player props. So, keep reading to find out how I’m playing the first bunch of playoff games on Saturday, April 20th. Also, check out our NBA Playoffs Betting Hub for all of our series previews and additional postseason content.

We also put together an NBA Playoffs Betting Primer with in-depth analysis for everything you’ll see the next couple of weeks.

 

MORE: Check out our Pro Picks page for everything our experts have on April 20

Top NBA Resources:

NBA Best Bets Today – April 20

Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers – 1:00 pm ET
Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets – 8:30 pm ET

I like the Cavaliers to win this series with relative ease. Sure, there should be some close games, with both of these teams being excellent defensively. But Cleveland just has a little too much firepower for Orlando. The Magic are going to need a lot out of Paolo Banchero in this series, and it’s entirely possible he delivers in a big way. But Orlando doesn’t have guards that consistently score, and I don’t see the role players turning in big performances in a road Game 1. This Magic team is very inexperienced. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have been there before, and Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are the best guards in this series. Look for them to set the tone and get Cleveland an early series lead. And don’t be surprised if it takes Banchero and Franz Wagner some time to deal with the Cavaliers trees, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

As for the Nuggets, I just don’t have a lot of belief in the Lakers in this series. I’m actually somewhat high on Los Angeles’ group, and I think this was the most complete team in the Play-In Tournament — and easily a top-five team in the Western Conference. This is just a brutal matchup for the Lakers. The Nuggets are very disciplined defensively, so they likely won’t lose sight of guys like Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell. And one of those two will need to be scorching in order for Los Angeles to knock off Denver. The Nuggets have bodies to throw at LeBron James and make him uncomfortable, and Nikola Jokic is going to score at the basket — even with Anthony Davis around. Denver has also had quite a bit of time to get ready for this Game 1, and Mike Malone can be trusted to put together a good game plan. On top of that, it’s very difficult to win in Denver. And these fans will be fired up.

PARLAY: Cavaliers ML & Nuggets ML (+102 – 2 units)

Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks – 6:00 pm ET

I like the Sixers to beat the Knicks in this series and it’ll be hard for Philadelphia to do that without winning Game 1 or 2. So, I’m prepared to take moneyline stabs at the Sixers in both games, and you’re getting a good price in this one because of Joel Embiid’s questionable tag. But the big man played in the Play-In Tournament, and he even came alive late in that game. So, it’d be a little surprising if he actually missed the series opener.

The Knicks are going to have a significant home-court advantage, as the fans in Madison Square Garden get loud. New York also had more time to prepare for this specific game, and Tom Thibodeau will have his group ready to go, at least from a strategy standpoint. But Nick Nurse is also one of the best coaches in the league, especially at this time of the year. So, he’s going to find some good ways to approach this series. And I’m expecting Joel Embiid’s ability to hit mid-range shots to be pretty big over the course of the series, and I also think the Sixers will do everything they can to get Tyrese Maxey attacking downhill. The Knicks don’t have a great option to throw on Maxey.

New York might also be guilty of getting a little too amped up here. Adrenaline is mostly a good thing, but it can also be a little much. And the Sixers took some verbal jabs at the Knicks this week, so I can see New York being a little out of its comfort zone early on as it looks to hit early haymakers.

The Sixers are also 19-9 ATS spread when trying to get revenge for a road loss over the last two seasons. And the Knicks did beat them in New York the last time they played. Philadelphia also won by 3.5 points per game in that situation, which is part of the reason I’m comfortable passing on the points and playing the moneyline. But I also just think the Knicks are due for a punch in the mouth here. New York spent the entire season playing significantly harder than its opponents. And while the Knicks deserve credit for doing that every single night, this is the postseason. Everybody is ready to compete now.

Bet: Sixers ML (+148)

NBA Player Props Today – April 20

Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves – 3:30 pm ET

Not only is Bradley Beal coming off a 36-point performance against the Timberwolves, but he has also scored at least 19 points in each of his last five games. Beal has been guilty of deferring to Devin Booker and Kevin Durant this season, but he’s finally getting a feel for when he needs to be aggressive. And he should be in attack mode throughout the course of this series.

Beal just has a big size advantage over Mike Conley Jr., so he should be able to finish through contact on his way to the basket. Beal will also have some good opportunities to knock down some pull-up jumpers, as he’ll be the primary ball handler when the Suns try to attack Rudy Gobert in Minnesota’s drop coverage. In addition to that, Beal will get some good spot-up looks when Phoenix runs actions through Booker and Durant. So, this should be a series in which Beal finds some success as a scorer. And I like him to get started right away.

Bet: Beal Over 17.5 Points (-112 – 1.5 units)

2023-24 Record: 328-344-3 (-11.14 units)