Editor's Note: For complete access to Mackenzie's NBA Player Values chart (updated weekly), which assigns point values to the top 80+ players across the league and supplements his free weekly NBA Power Ratings below, click here to learn about our new Betting Predators NBA Premium Package.
For the complete spreadsheet version of my updated NBA 2021 Power Ratings, which include each team's net rating, offensive rating, defensive rating, current record and more, you can view the full sheet here. In order to create a betting line between two of the teams listed below, simply find the difference between the two teams' power rating and give the home team an additional 1.5 points for home court advantage (HCA). Example: the Los Angeles Lakers play the Golden State Warriors in L.A., and the Lakers are 6 points better according to the power ratings. The Lakers are also home, which is worth 1.5 points. The line in this case should be Lakers -7.5 (6 points added for PR difference, plus 1.5 points added for HCA). To adjust for new player injuries, rest days and minutes restrictions throughout the week, I recommend pairing these power ratings below with my weekly NBA Player Line Values in order to create the sharpest lines.
Brooklyn Nets - Current: +8.5, Last: +6, Start: +4.5
Kyrie Irving just had one of the great regular seasons ever for a score-first point guard, and nobody for a second thought he was anything but the third best player on this team. The day the James Harden trade happened I believed this trio in Brooklyn would rival the other great trios in basketball history: Baylor/West/Chamberlain; James/Wade/Bosh; Durant/Westbrook/Harden & Curry/Durant/Clay.
Milwaukee Bucks - Current: +7.5, Last: +6.5, Start: +6.5
I agree with Sleepy and Smoove here - Jrue Holiday was brought by the Milwaukee Bucks for a reason. The 30 year-old is at a huge, pivotal moment in his life with the opportunity to be THE pivotal player in an NBA Finals run. Is he up for the challenge? Well, one thing we know for sure is that Jrue must be a pretty alright older brother (shepherding his brothers Justin Holiday and Aaron Holiday into the league after him).
LA Clippers - Current: +7.5, Last: +6, Start: +5.5
Great point brought up by Smoove on the latest Betting Predators NBA podcast - Rajon Rondo was at the low point of his career in Dallas a few years ago. Playoff Rondo, on the other hand, might find another gear and bring his amp up to 11 in this series vs. Rick Carlisle & Co in a revenge series of sorts for the veteran.
Phoenix Suns - Current: +7, Last: +6.5, Start: +2
I believe Chris Paul when he says he doesn't care who they play, or when they play 'em. Like Paul said, he has played in the West his whole career. The last two times Paul was a top 3 seed he had gone up against the defending champions twice in round one. The last time it happened, in 2015, his Los Angeles Clippers beat the San Antonio Spurs in game seven, with Paul himself knocking down the series-winning shot.
Philadelphia 76ers - Current: +6.5, Last: +5.5, Start: +2.5
Colin Cowherd today said that Embiid = Shaq. In size alone, I kind of see it - but even then though not really. Shaq wasn't the tallest or the heaviest in NBA history, and he didn't have the biggest wing span either. But if you looked at those factors together, nobody rivaled him. Joel Embiid is a big ass dude, no doubt, but what his game resembles is more Hakeem. Not only does Embiid have an exquisite post-game and face-up game like Olajuwon, but Embiid is an incredible accurate shooter, especially within 15-feet.
LA Lakers - Current: +6.5, Last: -1, Start: +6.5
No two teams in the playoffs seem to have such polar opposite starting lineups. Anthony Davis' FG shooting I believe will swing the series here though. If Davis puts up 40+ like he did the last he time he played Phoenix, then the Suns have no chance. If he's 2-for-12 - like he was in the first half against the Golden State Warriors (also a small ball team) - then the L.A. Lakers might be down by 20 at the break.
Utah Jazz - Current: +6, Last: +3, Start: +2.5
Donovan Mitchell hasn't played in over a month. Last year, he had a historical scoring run in the first round and this Utah Jazz team still lost to the Denver Nuggets in 7. This year, however, Mitchell has more help, with Jordan Clarkson raising his game and Bojan Bogdanovic back in the fold. Still, if he's not right - right away - either the Golden State Warriors or Memphis Grizzlies in my opinion are a live dog in this series.
Miami Heat - Current: +4, Last: +2.5, Start: +4
Jimmy Butler remarkably has only played one game against the Top 3 seeds this season. And he's 1-0! Whether it's scoring, running the point or guarding the other team's best player, Jimmy Buckets gets wins. Would not shock me at all to see the Heat style and beat the Bucks (again).
Denver Nuggets - Current: +3.5, Last: +4, Start: +3.5
We have simply never seen a team without an elite guard make an NBA Finals run (Yes, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton were elite in 2004 for the Detroit Pistons, and I'm counting the Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler as SG here by the way). Then again, we have never seen a center play the position like the Joker.
Portland Blazers - Current: +3.5, Last: +2.5, Start: +1.5
The Blazers had a -3 ATS margin and were outscored by over five points a game when facing teams with a winning record this season. The Nuggets? Almost exactly the opposite: +3 ATS margin and +4 SU margin vs. teams with a winning record. That statistical dichotomy alone keeps me off betting them +110, but I still strongly lean in the Portland Trail Blazers' direction for this first round Western Conference series.
Dallas Mavericks - Current: +3, Last: +2, Start: +1.5
One day Luka Doncic will not have to face the defense of Kawhi, Paul George in the Clippers in the NBA playoffs. In that series, he might average 50. Like a runner with ankle weights his entire life.
Atlanta Hawks - Current: +2.5, Last: +2, Start: 0
ATL head coach Nate McMillan was 100% accurate: the Atlanta Hawks advancing is a disaster for the league, in comparison to the Knicks taking on Philly in Round 2. Foul play afoot or not - that is just a fact.
Memphis Grizzlies - Current: +2, Last: +1.5, Start: -3
The Grizzlies are #1 in the NBA in points in the paint. That might help tonight against a small Warriors team, but it will tough to score consistently in a series vs. the Jazz with that style if they get there.
NY Knicks - Current: +2, Last: +1.5, Start: -7
The Knicks are the #1 ATS team in the entire league, and Tom Thibodeau would be this year's NBA Coach of the Year if he wasn't Tom Thibodeau. Whether his narrative is old news or not at this point, there is simply not a better hire if you want regular NBA regular season success with average or lesser talent.
Washington Wizards - Current: +0.5, Last: -0.5, Start: -2
The #2 ATS team in the league - EVERYONE sold too early on the great Russell Westbrook.
Boston Celtics - Current: 0 Last: +1.5 Last: +4
When it comes to this Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets first round series match up it's simple - if Jayson Tatum averages 40, then the Celtics lose in 7. If Tatum averages 30, then the Celtics lose in 5 (most likely scenario in my opinion). If Tatum averages anything less than 25? The Celtics get swept. Sorry Boston.