It Pays To Bet The NBA Playoffs At DraftKings Sportsbook

Updated on June 27, 2024
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The 2020-2021 NBA regular season ended on Sun., May 16. But some of the most exciting basketball action is still ahead in the NBA playoffs.

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First, for the benefit of those who have not been following the sport closely but might want to bet on the playoffs., we will tell you which teams are still in contention. We will also briefly describe what will happen in the upcoming play-in tournaments which precede the playoffs.

Lastly, you will learn about two special NBA playoffs promotions that DraftKings Sportsbook is offering sports bettors this year. If you’re a registered DraftKings player (or plan to join before the playoffs start), don’t miss these easy, exciting ways to boost your bankroll.

The 12 teams already in the 2021 NBA playoffs and the eight more with a shot to get in

This year the NBA playoffs won’t start as soon as you might think. They can’t because not all of the 16 teams that will compete have been decided.

From Tues., May 18 through Fri., May 21, a series of NBA play-in tournaments will determine which two teams in each of the two conferences will get the 7th and 8th seeds. Then, on Sat., May 22, with all 16 slots finally filled, the NBA playoffs will begin.

Seeds 1-6 in each conference are already set

Only one team can be crowned the NBA champion. But out of the 30 teams in the league, 16 will compete in the playoffs for a shot at the title. The top six teams in the Eastern Conference and the top six teams in the Western Conference are already in the NBA playoffs based on their regular season record. Here they are in order of seeding.

Eastern Conference

Western Conference














New York


LA Clippers









Seeds 7 & 8 in each conference are still up for grabs

 Besides the 12 teams listed above, two of the four teams in each conference that finished the regular season in 7th through 10th place will also make the playoffs.  depending on what happens in the play-in tournaments.

Of course, the sportsbooks aren’t limiting your bets at this time to individual NBA games. You can also make future bets. For example, if you already have an opinion about which team will win the 2021 NBA championship and would like to bet on it now, all of the NJ sportsbooks are offering that option. As of this writing, you can bet on any of the 20 teams that have not yet been eliminated. Or, if you prefer, you can make your wager at any point during the NBA play-ins or playoffs. But keep in mind that as the field narrows down, the odds can change dramatically.

Right now, the Brooklyn Nets are the favorite, and the LA Lakers–the 2020 champion–are the second choice. But how can that be? The above table showing the 12 teams that are definitely in the playoffs this year doesn’t even include the Lakers!

That’s true. One way the Lakers can make the playoffs this year would be to beat the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament. If they do, they will be the Western Conference 7th seed. Or, if they lose to the Warriors, they can still make the playoffs if they beat the winner of the Memphis-San Antonio play-in game.

The four Eastern Conference teams and four Western Conference teams still hoping to win their way into the playoffs via the play-in tournament route are as follows:

Eastern Conference

Western Conference




LA Lakers




Golden State








San Antonio

How the play-in tournaments work

Prior to 2020, as soon as the regular NBA season ended, all of the playoffs seedings were finalized. A team was either in or out. However, during the 2020 season, where all games took place in the Orlando bubble, the concept of play-in tournaments to decide the lowest seeds and give some teams a second chance was introduced. This year, the play-in concept was modified to extend the chance to qualify for the playoffs even to the team in 10th place.

Another difference between this season and last season is that once again, as usual, all regular and post-season games take place on one team’s home court.

The 2021 NBA play-in tournaments will proceed as follows:

Within each conference, the 7th place team will host the 8th place team. The winner of that game then becomes the 7th seed in the NBA playoffs. However, the loser of that game gets a second chance after the 9th place team hosts the 10th place team. The loser of that game is eliminated, but the winner plays a second game against the loser of the game between the 7th and 8th place teams to decide which of those two becomes the eighth seed in the playoffs.

For the teams that emerge victorious from the play-in tournaments, how realistic are their chances after that in the NBA playoffs?

Once all of the seedings for the NBA playoffs have been finalized, those games will start the very next day, Sat., May 22. Keep in mind that while the possibility certainly exists for the 7th and 8th seeded teams to advance far in the playoffs and even win the championship, two major factors will work against them.

  • They have to start the playoffs with virtually no rest, whereas their Round 1 opponents, whose last game was Sun., May 16, will have a whole week of rest.
  • The teams they have to face in Round 1 will be the teams with the best and second-best regular season records in the conference. Moreover, because of their superior record, during this best-of-seven opening round, they get the home-court advantage.

The 7th seeded team will play the 2nd seeded team, while the bottom seeded team will have to play the top seeded team, Winning at least one game on a superior team’s court is a tall order under any circumstances, and here, the disparity in talent may be too great. However, if you want to take the favorite, don’t be surprised if you see double-digit point spreads and very steep moneylines.

DraftKings NBA Playoffs Free Bets

Because all of the NBA playoffs matches are best-of-seven series, the playoffs could last for many weeks. It could take all the way up to July 22 before an NBA champion is crowned.

That’s a lot of games. So, if you are a small bettor, you need to be very careful not to overbet your bankroll. But the following two special offers from DraftKings will not only make betting the NBA playoffs more fun and exciting.

Pick the NBA Champion

Before the playoffs start, bet $25 or more on the team you think will win the NBA championship. Get a $5 Free Bet for every round the team wins.

How to participate in this promotion

This offer is open to registered DraftKings account-holders in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, or Colorado.

If you qualify and wish to participate, here is what you need to do no later than May 21.

  • Log in to your DraftKings Sportsbook account and opt-in to this promotion.
  • Bet $25 or more on one team to win the NBA championship.

Additional terms and conditions

  • You can only bet on one team to win the championship.
  • Your wager must be placed before 11:59 p.m. on Fri., May 21.
  • You will receive a $5 Free Bet for every series (excluding play-in games) that your team wins. The Free Bet will be credited to your account by 11:59 p.m. on the day after the series win takes place.
  • You then have up to seven days to use your free bet. You cannot use it for live bets, parlays, odds boosts, additions to other free bets, or bets that have already been voided or cashed out.
  • If you win your Free Bet, you will receive the winnings from the bet but not the cost of the bet.

NBA Playoffs Daily Bet & Get

Every day you bet $25 or more on the NBA playoffs from 5/17/21 through 5/31/21, win or lose, you will get a $5 Free Bet.

How to participate in this promotion

This promotion is open to registered DK players in the same states as the first promotion.

If you are eligible and wish to participate, here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Log in to your DraftKings Sportsbook account and opt-in to this promotion.

However,  it is not clear whether a single opt-in will suffice or if you need to opt-in separately on each day you wish to play.

  • Bet $25 or more on one or more NBA playoff games. Qualifying bets can include live bets and parlays if desired. However, minimum odds of -250 or longer are required.

Additional terms and conditions

  • Players are eligible for one Free Bet per day.
  • You have up to seven days from the time you receive your Free Bet to use it.
  • You cannot use your Free Bets for live bets, parlays, odds boosts, additions to other free bets, or bets that have already been voided or cashed out.
  • If you win your Free Bet, you will receive the winnings from the bet but not the cost of the bet.

Summary and conclusion

There is a lot of money waiting to be won during the NBA playoffs season. So, whatever size player you are, this a great time to put your handicapping knowledge and good luck to the test and see where it takes you. That includes grabbing every small edge you can, like with DraftKings two offers for Free Bets. Also, check out other NJ gambling websites to see what special deals they have to offer.

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