NBA Playoffs: Your Game-By-Game Guide To Saturday's First Round Openers

The NBA postseason reaches the last-16 stage this weekend
00:00, 22 May 2021

Following a thrilling inaugural play-in tournament, NBA’s playoffs get into full swing on Saturday with the first four first-round ties getting underway in what promises to be a captivating 12-hour marathon.

The opening best-of-seven series will see 16 hopefuls reduced to eight between now and 6 June, and below is everything you need to know about the four match-ups which begin on Saturday night.

Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks – Game 1 Saturday 19:00BST (Sky Sports Arena)

Regular Season:

Heat – 6th in Eastern Conference (40-32)

Bucks – 3rd in Eastern Conference (46-26)

Series schedule:

Game 2 Monday 24 May @ Milwaukee

Game 3 Thursday 27 May @ Miami

Game 4 Sunday 29 May @ Miami

Game 5 Tuesday 1 June @ Milwaukee (if necessary)

Game 6 Thursday 3 June @ Miami (if necessary)

Game 7 Saturday 5 June @ Milwaukee (if necessary)

Season series – 2-1 Bucks

29/12/20: Bucks 144, Heat 97

30/12/20: Bucks 108, Heat 119

15/05/21: Heat 108, Bucks 122

Betfred series winner odds:

Bucks 1/3

Heat 9/4

Betfred NBA Championship odds:

Bucks 8/1

Heat 33/1

The Heat eliminated the Bucks at the conference semi-final stage last year but Milwaukee are expected to make a concerted push for the NBA Finals this time around. The Bucks were the only team in the Eastern Conference to rank as one of the top 10 teams in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Dallas Mavericks @ Los Angeles Clippers – Game 1 Saturday 21:30BST (Sky Sports Arena)

Regular Season:

Mavericks – 5th in Western Conference (42-30)

Clippers – 4th in Western Conference (47-25)

Series schedule:

Game 2 Tuesday 25 May @ Los Angeles

Game 3 Friday 28 May @ Dallas

Game 4 Sunday 30 May @ Dallas

Game 5 Wednesday 2 June @ Los Angeles (if necessary)

Game 6 Friday 4 June @ Dallas (if necessary)

Game 7 Sunday 6 June @ Los Angeles (if necessary)

Season series – 2-1 Mavericks

27/12/20: Mavericks 124, Clippers 73

15/03/21: Clippers 109, Mavericks 99

17/03/21: Clippers 89, Mavericks 105

Betfred series winner odds:

Clippers 2/9

Mavericks 3/1

Betfred NBA Championship odds:

Clippers 11/2

Mavericks 33/1

The saying goes that the Clippers are built to win, but they were also well backed last year and succumbed to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals having led the series 3-1. In Luka Doncic, the Mavs have perhaps the best player on the court, and he will have to do much of the heavy lifting if Dallas are to upset the odds and overcome LA.


Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets – Game 1 Sunday 01:00BST


Regular Season:

Celtics – 7th in Eastern Conference (36-36)

Nets – 2nd in Eastern Conference (48-24)

Series schedule:

Game 2 Tuesday 25 May @ Brooklyn

Game 3 Friday 28 May @ Boston

Game 4 Sunday 30 May @ Boston

Game 5 Tuesday 1 June @ Brooklyn (if necessary)

Game 6 Thursday 3 June @ Boston (if necessary)

Game 7 Saturday 5 June @ Brooklyn (if necessary)

Season series – 3-0 Nets

25/12/20: Nets 123, Celtics 95

11/03/21: Celtics 109, Nets 121

23/04/21: Celtics 104, Nets 109

Betfred series winner odds:

Nets 1/14

Celtics 7/1

Betfred NBA Championship odds:

Nets 9/4fav

Celtics 80/1

The Nets beat the Celtics by an average of 15 points in their three-game regular season series and are Betfred’s favourites to lift the NBA Championship for a reason, with James Harden returning just in time to make a big impact on the postseason. The Celtics overcame the Wizards in the Play-In tournament to get this far but there is little in the way of expectation around Boston.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets – Game 1 Sunday 03:30BST

Regular Season:

Trail Blazers – 6th in Western Conference (42-30)

Nuggets – 3rd in Western Conference (47-25)

Series schedule:

Game 2 Monday 24 May @ Denver

Game 3 Thursday 27 May @ Portland

Game 4 Saturday 29 May @ Portland

Game 5 Tuesday 1 June @ Denver (if necessary)

Game 6 Thursday 3 June @ Portland (if necessary)

Game 7 Saturday 5 June @ Denver (if necessary)

Season series – 2-1 Nuggets

23/02/21: Trail Blazers 106, Nuggets 111

21/04/21: Nuggets 106, Trail Blazers 105

16/05/21: Nuggets 116, Trail Blazers 132

Betfred series winner odds:

Nuggets Evens

Trail Blazers 8/11

Betfred NBA Championship odds:

Nuggets 40/1

Trail Blazers 66/1

This one is being billed as Nikola Jokic versus Damian Lillard, but both teams will be hoping to prove they have far more about them as they look to launch unlikely bids for the NBA Finals. It is 44 years since the Blazers’ only NBA title, while the Nuggets have never even won a Conference championship.

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