This time of the year is always earmarked for March Madness but as the tournament winds down and the calendar flips to April, the sports world will turn its attention to the upcoming NBA playoffs. I figured we’d get an early jump on the proceedings since the NBA season is already winding down.
So let’s look at the hardwood where NBA teams are currently jostling for playoff spots or in some cases, lottery balls. But I’m not paying too much attention on the teams that are tanking; my focus is solely dedicated towards those who are gearing up for the playoffs.
As it stands right now, the Cleveland LeBrons, I mean the Cleveland Cavaliers are penciled in as the favorites to win the NBA title at 2/1 odds, despite being the second best team in the Eastern Conference. The best team in the conference – the Atlanta Hawks – are only 10/1 odds. This shows that regular season records really don’t matter in predicting what happens in the playoffs. Everybody starts clean and match-ups usually dictate who is tabbed the favorite. That said, the Cavs have LeBron James and, well, the Atlanta Hawks don’t. Just below the Cavs at 12/5 odds are the Golden State Warriors, followed closely by the defending champions, the San Antonio Spurs at 6/1 odds.
These four teams are being heavily billed as the teams that will make up the conference title series in the East and the West, but just because everybody assumes they’ll make it, that doesn’t mean other teams are just going to lay down and let that happen.
These next group of teams are all double-digit odds to win the NBA title, but with the right match-up and a few lucky bounces of the ball, these odds could end up becoming valuable numbers late in the playoffs.
The Houston Rockets are at 12/1 odds, just above the Memphis Grizzlies at 14/1, the Chicago Bulls at 16/1, and the Los Angeles Clippers at 18/1. Further down the list are the Portland Trailblazers at 33/1 odds. This is the one team that I’ll be looking at before the playoffs start. Depending on its first-round matchup, the Blazers could make a lot of noise in the postseason so if you’re looking at huge odds this early, Portland at 33/1 looks like a decent bet.
Over in the East, it’s really a case of the three teams already mentioned…and everybody else. After the Bulls at 16/1, the next closest Eastern conference team are the Toronto Raptors at 50/1. The line then drops precipitously to 100/1 or the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards, two teams that are barely keeping their heads above water in the last few weeks of the season.