NBA Betting Guide for Friday 4/15/22: Who Will Snag the 8 Seeds?

The NBA playoffs are here! The high-stakes drama in a gauntlet of best-of-seven series returns for another year, and it starts with the play-in tournament to decide the final two spots in each conference.

Betting on the NBA can be tricky, but you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit. You can also track spread bet percentages at NBA odds.

Where do our algorithm, our power rankings, and the betting trends identify value in tonight's games? All odds are from NBA odds, and all ratings are out of five stars.

Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers +2.5 (-110) - 3 Stars
Cavaliers ML (+126) - 3 Stars

With the Cavaliers the home team getting points, it's kind of easy to guess the sharp side here.

The public loves the Hawks in this spot. 89% of spread bets and 85% of the moneyline bets in this one so far are on Atlanta. NBA bettors love star power, and there's no doubt that Trae Young provides that better than any Cleveland player.

Atlanta's combination of the league's second-best offensive rating (115.4) with its fifth-worst defensive rating (113.7) can be incredibly volatile -- especially on the road. Cleveland holds the league's fifth-best defensive rating (108.9), but just its 20th-ranked offensive rating (111.0).

These two teams are side-by-side in net rating as a result. Cleveland is 13th in the NBA (+2.1), and Atlanta is 14th (+1.7).

This should be a tremendous, close game. With the way the public is pounding the Hawks, I'm going to be holding out to (hopefully) find this spread at three by tip-off. That's one-basket insurance to cover and the safest method to back Cleveland.

As the home team potentially getting Jarrett Allen back from his finger injury, the Cavs can absolutely win this outright far more than most bettors believe now.

New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Clippers

Clippers ML (-180) - 1 Star

Talk about two teams in opposite moods entering this game.

The Clippers blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead on Tuesday where a win would have sent them to Memphis. Now, last year's Western Conference runner-up is in danger. On the other hand, the Pelicans enter off an energized win over San Antonio in a season many felt was lost without Zion Williamson.

The reality is that Los Angeles wouldn't be here if Paul George didn't miss 42 games. The Clippers have a +3.9 net rating with George on the floor -- a mark that would have been seventh in the entire NBA. They've got a -1.3 net rating without him.

Since March 1st with their new lineup, the Pels have a +3.1 net rating. They're a good team that likely would have also sent Denver or Minnesota packing in an alternate universe where they had C.J. McCollum all year.

By a nose, I like L.A. to win this game. The model also recommends a one-star (i.e. one-unit) wager on the Clips' moneyline, but the spread could be tricky.

As for the total, all four play-in games sailed under the oddsmakers' projections, so this 216.0-point total might be an overcorrection. The model also posts a one-unit wager on the over.

I'll personally stay away. These two teams averaged just 205.6 points in their four meetings this year, and of the 20 most similar games to this one in numberFire's database, 14 of those contests ended under the projected total.

**Editor's Note: Paul George was ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols after this piece was published. The Clippers are now a four-star wager per our model as 1.5-point underdogs.**