NBA
June 2, 2021

Can Any First-Round Underdog Overcome Series Deficit?

While the 2021 NBA playoffs have already been full of excitement, injuries have unfortunately changed the playoff picture, but the drama continues to unfold. 

With six of the eight first-round postseason series still up for grabs, that means there's an opportunity for bettors to cash in on NBA series prop bets at DraftKings Sportsbook. A 3-2 or 3-1 deficit may be overwhelming to think about as a bettor but the longshot odds can pay off handsomely. We're looking at the three series with a chance to pay off.

Which is the best to lay money on? Let's break it down.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns

The Anthony Davis situation is clearly the defining factor in this series. The Lakers were destroyed Tuesday without their All-NBA big man as the Suns played with great execution. With a 3-2 lead and uncertainty with Davis' status, it's surprising to see the Lakers have such poor return on a comeback.

That's life when betting against LeBron James, though. James has never lost a first-round series, and seeing his Lakers on the brink is an ode to how good the Suns are in addition to the impact of Davis being sidelined. It's the perfect mix for James to fall to 14-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lakers have struggled to find the chemistry and offensive flow they had during their championship run last year. LeBron's presence always casts a big shadow on role players, and some simply don't make the cut. Dennis Schroeder has been this year's version of Jordan Clarkson for LeBron.

Without Davis, the Lakers are a lost cause against a great Suns roster. Chris Paul's health has improved enough to pull out one more win. So this series and the possibilities is more betting on Davis' availability and effectiveness. 

I hate betting against LeBron, but it's hard to imagine Davis coming back to play effectively. These odds aren't good enough to lay money down for James to drag this roster to two-straight wins. 

Bet: Suns (-295)

Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Another series clearly impacted by injury, the Mavericks' quick 2-0 lead is long gone. Now they must win two out of three games against the Clippers, and Luka Doncic's neck strain is a massive factor.

It was clear in Game 4 that Doncic's nerve injury would affect his shooting. He was effective, shockingly so actually, in his time on the court. However, his passing took a hit and his overall involvement was limited.

The Clippers are starting to roll in response. They've figured out the Mavericks have no interior defensive presence and getting to the rim has become easy. Like the Lakers' series, how can a team come back when one of their best players, or in this case their best player, can't function near their top level?

We'd be banking on the Clippers doing what their franchise has become known for. However, Kawhi Leonard has transcended his game to his 2017 levels. Even a healthy Luka may not have made a big difference. 

We're fading this line as well. Again, the price isn't good enough to bet against an injury healing quickly. 

Bet: Clippers (-385)

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets

This is the series to bet.

Yes, the Denver Nuggets are the better team with more scoring options, but this exciting series could go in two directions still. The Trail Blazers are clearly unafraid of the Nuggets and their explosive backcourt can win two straight games.

We've seen four winners over 120 points including Tuesday's 147-140 loss to Denver. Damian Lillard's insane 55-point explosion was almost enough to upset Denver and take the series lead. Betting against Lillard is always scary because he's such a dominant presence.

Credit must be given to the resilient and deep Nuggets too. Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic are fantastic talents. The fact they're surviving without Jamal Murray is a testament to their chemistry and overall depth.

I still lean towards the Nuggets as a winner in the series but the Blazers are the one team best equipped to comeback. With 2-to-1 odds to win two straight, it's a solid return when Denver has clearly shown some weakness to how the Blazer play. 

Bet: Trail Blazers (+210)

Photo: Getty Images