NBA 1st-round series odds: Bucks, Lakers laying heavy chalk
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There have been plenty of suggestions for a new NBA playoff format.

Seeding teams 1-16 without conferences, a World Cup-style tournament, and many other proposals have been floated while the season's been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But let's keep things simple. Should the NBA return and keep its traditional format for the postseason, here are the series we'd see, from the largest favorites to the shortest.

Bucks (-5000) vs. Magic (+1550)

The break left the Bucks with a 53-12 record, tops in the NBA. The scary part? Milwaukee was playing like a 55-win team at the time. It's crazy to think the best squad in the league was actually unlucky over the first 65 games of the season.

At 30-35, the Magic had a five-game lead on the Wizards for the final playoff spot. I can't sit here and recommend laying -5000 with a straight face, but Milwaukee probably cruises through this matchup.

Lakers (-2000) vs. Grizzlies (+750)

The Lakers are the biggest favorites out of the West, and it's not close. LeBron James and Anthony Davis toyed with the rest of the league en route to a conference-leading 49-14 record; what would they do to a 32-33 Grizzlies squad that was overachieving prior to the hiatus?

They would win, more often than not.

Raptors (-900) vs. Nets (+640)

If you haven't learned by now, sleeping on the Raptors is a mistake. They might be one of the best dark horses to invest in if the postseason is a go.

Toronto owned the third-best winning percentage in the league before the layoff. That's particularly impressive considering that the team led the NBA in wins lost due to injuries.

We can talk all we want about the potential return of Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant for the Nets, but the Raptors have all my attention in this series.

Clippers (-350) vs. Mavericks (+280)

I still think the Clippers are the team to beat. They have the depth and star power to hang with the Bucks and Lakers. A 40-27 Mavericks team that was playing like a 47-win (!) squad isn't an ideal matchup, but if L.A. gets through Round 1, look out.

Heat (-280) vs. Pacers (+200)

I have no real opinion on a price that looks pretty sharp. Miami was one of the biggest surprises during the year, storming out to an 11-3 record and never looking back. Indiana erased a slow start to jump into the playoff mix and sits just two games behind the Heat.

The plus-money on the Pacers is enticing, but there isn't a big enough edge.

Celtics (-260) vs. 76ers (+220)

Lay the chalk with Boston in this spot. The Celtics were among the biggest underachievers during the regular season, owning a 43-21 record despite being projected for 46 wins. They were also second in wins lost due to injuries, meaning we likely haven't seen Boston at its peak with a full, healthy core.

Jazz (-165) vs. Thunder (+145)

The location of the games could be one of the more underrated aspects of handicapping the playoffs. Utah's altitude provides a solid home-court advantage, but I'd reckon it's a lot easier to play in those conditions with fresh legs.

I'd actually be more inclined to bet the Thunder if the NBA allowed for its regular format of trading home and away games during the postseason, seeing as the Jazz would potentially be overvalued.

Rockets (-125) vs. Nuggets (+105)

The Rockets are laying chalk against the Nuggets despite being seeded three spots lower. If you're keen on taking the plus-money play on Denver, I'd be cautious - the Nuggets had a minus-3 discrepancy between their actual wins and their expected wins. They'll come down to earth sooner than later.

Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.

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NBA 1st-round series odds: Bucks, Lakers laying heavy chalk
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