Somebody at DraftKings SportsBook did not love the wager that
was being attempted from the parking lot of a Dairy Queen: $20 on a
seven-way parlay with the correct series score of seven NBA
first-round playoff series.
This happened on Saturday morning during the short window when
it was unclear whether LeBron James would be eligible for the Los
Angeles Lakers because of a COVID-protocol violation.
The bet slip said: Nets in 4; Heat in 7; Blazers in 7; Mavericks
in 7; Jazz in 5; Knicks in 5 and Wizards in 7. A message popped up
on this writer’s phone: Please wait while this bet is manually
One car wash later, it was only partially accepted despite the
odds of better than 6 million to one.
DraftKings limited the bet to $2.44, with a possible payoff of
Hey, if you are going to make playoff predictions in this day
and age, you may as well back them with an Andrew Jackson to keep
things fun… if possible. Despite the small size of the bet, if this
one hits, I’ll be writing a column following the playoffs entitled
“Where I Intend To Take My New Yacht After Covering The
The picks are gut shots, and there is reasoning behind all of
them… along with a Lakers-Suns prediction now that we know King
James will be in uniform on Sunday:
Nets over Celtics in 4. Over the course of the
season, Brooklyn gained James Harden, Blake Griffin and Alize
Johnson among others. The Celtics lost Jaylen Brown late in the
regular season, after losing Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Kyrie
Irving over the past couple of seasons without getting much of
anything in return. None of these games should be close, and Kyrie
should be especially pumped against his most-recent former team.
The Nets should rediscover their autopilot switch.
Heat over Bucks in 7. As big of an improvement
as Jrue Holiday is over Eric Bledsoe, this one will come down to
which team is better from three-point range and the proper
adjustments from game to game, along with whether Giannis
Antetokounmpo can make his free throws when it matters. Until
proven otherwise, Miami has Milwaukee’s number. Didn’t we all learn
that a year ago? The Heat remain a sleeping giant.
Trail Blazers over Nuggets in 7: The best
series that nobody is talking about, but certainly will be. The 3-6
series in the West features the two best-but-least-sexy teams in
the entire conference, and it is sort of a shame that we are going
to lose one of them. And as good as Nikola Jokic is, the Blazers
have added a couple of key pieces in Robert Covington, Enes Kanter
and Norman Powell over the last year. They were not on national TV
much aside from Damian Lillard’s many commercials, yet they are
only two seasons removed from being a Western Conference finalist
with many of the same main components.
Mavericks over Clippers in 7: The karma police
are going to hand it to the Clippers in Game 7 because of their
tank job in the final game of the regular season against the
Thunder, preventing OKC from finishing in a tie for third-worst in
the NBA that would’ve left them a coin flip away from winning the
draft lottery and getting the No. 1 overall pick. This one should
be just about as entertaining as Blazers-Nuggets, and it comes down
to who will be the big-time player at the end of these games. We
already know that Luka Doncic and Kawhi Leonard are equally capable
of hitting monster last-second shots.
Jazz over Grizzlies in 5. You gotta hand it to
Memphis for getting the overtime win on the road in Steph Curry’s
place, capping an entertaining play-in week that helped make up for
a less-than-ideal regular season from a competitiveness standpoint.
Taylor Jenkins appears capable of scheming one victory against a
far better opponent, but Utah’s three-point shooting, experience
and chemistry are going to be exceptionally difficult for anyone to
overcome. They are a very worthy and dangerous No. 1 seed. Dwyane
Wade should be pleased with himself for buying in.
Knicks over Hawks in 5: It is easy to be swayed
by New York’s sweep of the three-game season series, especially
given how unstoppable Julius Randle was against Atlanta. But the
Hawks have spent a season battling through injuries and developing
chemistry with so many new additions to the roster, and it is hard
to imagine De’Andre Hunter, Clint Capela and Bogdan Bogdanovic
getting swept when they get the check marks for matchup advantages
at their respective positions. But the Knicks have the best record
in the entire NBA since April 7, and they are aligned with Thibs’
Wizards over Sixers in 7. Have we not seen Joel
Embiid and/or Ben Simmons botch these situations before? Or Russell
Westbrook bounce back and prove himself to be the best player on
the court in a good two-third of the games he has played this
season? Look, anybody who surpasses Oscar Robertson in the record
books deserves a higher level of respect than is being given to
Westbrook, who has had success under Scott Brooks before. It is a
big deal for Bradley Beal’s hamstring recovery that these teams
will play only twice before next weekend. Upset special.
Lakers over Suns in 6. It would not surprise me
if this series ends in less than 6 games, especially if Andre
Drummond plays almost no role and the Lakers let Anthony Davis
dominate the center position. Drummond will be needed at some
point, but not in this matchup. And you never, ever, ever pick
against LeBron James (unless he is flanked by J.R. Smith).