NBA playoffs 2023: Which lower-seeded teams have the best chance in first round?

The Sacramento Kings will take on the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Now that the field is set at the conclusion of the play-in tournament, how many upsets can we expect to see in the first round of this year's NBA playoffs?

Last year saw all eight higher-seeded teams advance before the bracket started getting wonky in Round 2. However, that's a historical outlier. Not counting the 2020 playoffs, which were played on neutral courts in the NBA bubble, there have been an average of 1.5 upsets per year in the opening round.

But with so much playoff experience in the West accumulated in the bottom four seeds, we're unlikely to see chalk reign again in this year's first round. In fact, the defending champion Golden State Warriors beating the upstart Sacramento Kings wouldn't actually be an upset because the Warriors are heavy favorites at Caesars Sportsbook, with a 71% chance to win the series.

Naturally, Sacramento-Golden State is the most likely series to produce a win by a lower seed in my model, which incorporates regular-season performance (as measured by net rating), roster quality (as based on SCHOENE projections and my prediction for first-round playing time) and pre-playoffs title odds.

Let's run through all eight series in terms of projected upset probability.