NBA Playoffs Upset Picks (Which Underdog Wins Its First Round Series?)

Gary Trent Jr. and the Raptors are all smiles ahead of their series against the Sixers
Gary Trent Jr. and the Raptors are all smiles ahead of their series against the Sixers / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

The first round of the NBA playoffs is one of the best times of the sports year. There's always wildly entertaining games and huge plays everywhere you look.

With the race to the NBA Finals feeling as wide open as it has in years, that opens the door for some upsets in the first round of the postseason. This was a wild year, with trades, injuries, vaccination concerns, and much more dominating the storylines.

It's only natural, then, that there will be some upsets in the playoffs. But which underdogs are poised to unseat the favorites and advance to the next round?

Thanks to the odds from WynnBET, let's take a look at which underdogs will win their first round series of the NBA postseason:

Toronto Raptors (+155)

Without a doubt, the Raptors are my favorite underdog of the first round. I wrote this week why they're not only a great value to win this series, but to win the NBA Finals altogether, and it all starts with a great performance against Philadelphia.

Over the last 15 games of the regular season, Toronto had a better net rating (6.2) than the Sixers (5.8) thanks to a smothering defense that ranked second league-wide in rating. Joel Embiid has been candid about how effectively the Raptors guard him and Toronto actually won the regular season series 3-1.

Pascal Siakam has blossomed into a superstar, and the rangy, versatile defenders Toronto deploys will make life miserable for James Harden, Tobias Harris and the rest of Philadelphia's thin roster.

Already with limited depth thanks to the Harden trade, the Sixers will also be without the unvaccinated Matisse Thybulle for all games in Toronto. Their margin for error is perilously thin, and that's going to spell trouble against a deep, balanced Raptors roster.

Finally, there's the whole "Doc Rivers vs Nick Nurse" thing. Doc Rivers' infamous postseason collapses are almost comical at this point. He's the only coach in NBA history to have teams blow 3-1 series leads on three different occasions and will be thoroughly outclassed by Nurse, one of the best coaches in the league.

The only way Philadelphia has a chance is if Embiid goes supernova. That's totally possible, but I find it unlikely, given his history of struggles against Toronto and how many defenders they can throw at him. Toronto is going to advance in this series.

Denver Nuggets (+180)

Stephen Curry's health is the gigantic question mark here. It looks unlikely he'll return for Game 1, and even if he does we don't know how effective he'll be. If he comes back and is his normal self, then the Warriors are in good shape. But without him, Golden State is in huge trouble.

Nikola Jokic will likely win his second consecutive MVP award and was incredible to end the season, averaging 30.5 points, 14 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game over the final 20 games of the year. The Nuggets won the regular season series against the Warriors 3-1, and Draymond Green will be tasked with slowing down the Serbian superstar.

Green is an excellent defender, but Jokic is Jokic. He's going to play well.

Denver's success on the road is a large reason I feel comfortable backing them in this series, as well. They went 13-4 against the spread (ATS) in their final 17 road games while the Warriors went 6-10 ATS in their last 16 away from home.

This series should be closer to a coinflip given Curry's status and Jokic's dominance, and I love the value at +180 for the Nuggets to emerge victorious.

If you like the value on these underdogs or prefer a different series bet, head on over to WynnBET and lock your wager in before the playoffs officially get underway.

Follow all of Joe Summers' betting picks here.