NBA Playoffs: How To Bet, Watch New Play-In Games

Written By Derek Helling on May 17, 2021
NBA Play In Odds May 2021

The Detroit Pistons may have missed out on the expanded NBA postseason this year, but that doesn’t mean Michigan sports betting is on the bench this week. On the contrary, MI sportsbooks have a ton of action on NBA play-in odds.

Through this tournament before the main tournament, eight teams will vie for four spots in the NBA Playoffs. All four matchups have some intrigue for bettors and could influence NBA betting on MI sports betting apps going forward.

Where to find NBA Play-In odds in Michigan

Every licensed MI sportsbook operator is hitting the court with markets. The games start Tuesday, May 18, and run through Friday. Essentially, the NBA took the Nos. 7 through 10 seeds in each conference and put them in a tournament of their own to precede the standard 16-team playoffs. The schedule looks like this:

  • No. 10 Charlotte Hornets at No. 9 Indiana Pacers: 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT
  • No. 8 Washington Wizards at No. 7 Boston Celtics: 9 p.m. Tuesday on TNT
  • No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies: 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN
  • No. 8 Golden State Warriors at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers: 10 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN

The winners of the 7/8 games in each conference advance as the No. 7 seed in their respective conferences. They’ll play the No. 2 seeds in the first round. The losers of those games will have one more opportunity to prolong their seasons, though. They face the winners of the 9/10 games. Those contests are set for:

  • East 9/10 winner vs. 7/8 loser: 8 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT
  • West 9/10 winner vs. 7/8 loser: Friday (time TBD) on ESPN

The winners of those games will advance as the No. 8 seeds in their respective conferences, with the unenviable prize of facing the top seeds in each conference’s bracket. The standard playoffs begin on Saturday, May 22. MI sportsbooks are offering some special markets just for this new NBA event.

Michigan sportsbook promos to check

The promotions trade among major sportsbooks is slowing as we hit the less active summer month, but there are still a handful of deals available if you look.

FanDuel Sportsbook has a simple gift: Opt in to a promotion this week, and your first bet will be backed with $10 in free bet credits, win or lose.

PointsBet Sportsbook will be allowing Michigan customers to bet on all first-round games without any juice — so, in other words, point spread bets will be set at +100 the next couple of weeks.

Of the upper tier of operators, DraftKings Sportsbook may have the most involved set of specials to monitor. Any futures bet of $25 or more on a championship winner placed by Friday will be credit with an extra $5 in bets for every round that team advances (the play-in sessions don’t count).

Every day through the end of May, a $25 bet or more on the NBA Playoffs will also be rewarded with a $5 bet credit.

The next target of the “hammer the over” promotion will be Game 1 of the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers series. Every 1,500 users who bet the over on the point total will drop said total by another point. The maximum bet is $25 at +100, and these wagers turn out to be essential guaranteed wins.

Lastly, new users who deposit money can make their first bet of $5 on any NBA Playoffs money line  market. A win there will mean $200 in free bets.

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Who are the favorites to advance this week?

As of early Monday afternoon, BetMGM Sportsbook had lines on all eight teams to make the playoffs via the play-in tourney.

Team Make playoffs Miss playoffs
Los Angeles Lakers -2000 +900
Golden State Warriors -550 +375
Boston Celtics -500 +350
Washington Wizards -450 +325
Indiana Pacers +350 -500
Memphis Grizzlies +375 -550
Charlotte Hornets +400 -600
San Antonio Spurs +600 -1000

The same book had a prop market in which bettors had to choose which four teams would advance. The combination with the shortest odds of -125 is Boston, Golden State, Los Angeles, and Washington. The foursome with the longest odds of +20000 is Charlotte, Golden State, San Antonio and Washington.

Bettors can find boosted odds at BetMGM on pairs of teams to win their games on Tuesday night. For example, parlaying Charlotte and Washington to both win pays out at +375.

Despite the fact that the Lakers have to win an extra game to reach the postseason, bettors haven’t shied away from the defending champions. As a matter of fact, BetMGM reports that 16.9% of its Finals winner tickets and 22.4% of the handle on the same bets stake Los Angeles.

Only the Brooklyn Nets have higher percentages of both/either handle and tickets. One bettor put down $35,000 on the Lakers to defend their title at +350 odds. BetMGM trader Seamus Magee commented on the action the book has seen.

“Six teams enter the postseason with better than +1000 odds to win the NBA Championship,” Magee said. “It looks like a wide-open NBA playoffs, but the Nets and Lakers are betting favorites and have received the most tickets and handle.”

Brooklyn will know its first-round opponent after the Eastern Conference play-in games, while Los Angeles will need to take care of either Golden State or the winner of Memphis/San Antonio to keep those wagers alive. MI sports betting apps give you a shot to win some cash if you can predict those outcomes successfully.

Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling