With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the NBA playoff picture is starting to come into focus. While the Golden State Warriors look locked into the #1 seed throughout the playoffs, there are still quite a few teams battling to get into the fray. In the next few weeks, NBA playoffs betting will be picking up steam as gamblers analyze the NBA playoff odds for value, start looking for NBA playoff tips and lay down their money on their best NBA playoff picks.
This analysis is focused on assessing the playoff picture in each conference in an effort to come up with some solid NBA playoff predictions. The process will begin by predicting the eight playoff teams in each conference by seeding and then running through each subsequent match up until the the most likely champion has been identified.
Note: The NBA playoff odds provided next to each team’s name are based on current odds from a reputable online site. The first number represents the team’s odds to win the conference title while the second number represents its odds to win the NBA Championship. The odds may vary from one site to the next.
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers (-240, +400)
#2 Toronto Raptors (+600, +3500)
#3 Atlanta Hawks (+1200, +6000)
#4 Miami Heat (+1000, +5000)
#5 Boston Celtics (+1200, +6000)
#6 Charlotte Hornets (+2000, +10000)
$7 Detroit Pistons (+4000, +20000)
#8 Chicago Bulls (+6000, +25000)
(#8 Bulls at #1 Cavaliers) – After the Bulls got Jimmy Butler back in time to squeeze into the playoffs, they have the misfortune of running into Lebron James and his Cavaliers. Through April 1, the Bulls held a 2-1 edge in the series, winning the only game Butler played 97-95. With him back in the fold, this series figures to be tougher than some might think. However, the Cavaliers win in six games.
(#7 Pistons at #2 Raptors) – On the season, the Raptors had a 2-1 edge in the season series with a win at home and at Detroit. With the dynamic duo of DeMar DeRozan (23.6 PPG) and Kyle Lowry (21.5 PPG) running the floor, the Raptors have too much firepower for the Pistons to handle. Raptors in five.
(#6 Hornets at #3 Hawks) – For the most part, the Hawks dominated the season series 3-1. Coming into the last two weeks of the regular season, both teams are playing well with the Hawks really coming on strong the second half of the season. Advantage Hawks in five.
(#5 Celtics at #4 Heat) – This one figures to be a war between the young upstart Celtics and the veteran laden Heat. Even though both teams are struggling a bit with two weeks remaining, the Celtics simply dominated the Heat in the first two games of the season series. They meet in the last game of the season and then figure to go right into playoff mode. Take the young Celtics in six games.
(#5 Celtics at #1 Cavaliers) – Not surprisingly, the Cavaliers took the season series 2-1 with both teams winning once on the road. That’s a relevant fact because the Cavaliers only lost seven games at home all year. It’s hard to believe James might have trouble carrying this team, but the Cavaliers have been prone to erratic play all season long. With the Celtics being the highest scoring team in the conference, the Cavaliers can ill-afford any mental hiccups. While there is an upset possibility here, the Cavaliers still have an ace in the hole, Lebron. Cavaliers in seven games.
(#3 Hawks at #2 Raptors) – Coming into the last two weeks of play, these two teams had met three times with the Raptors winning all three games by a combined margin of 26 points. As good as the Hawks have been playing in recent weeks, it still pales in comparison to how the Raptors have played all year long. At 34-12, the Raptors have the best conference record, which indicates the team’s talent level might be a tad bit better overall than the rest of the conference. Look for the Raptors to step on the gas and never let up. The Raptors in Five.
(#2 Raptors at #1 Cavaliers) – Assuming the Cavaliers survive a scare in Boston, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference will square off for the conference title. During the regular season Toronto won both games at home by a combined margin of 6 points while the Cavaliers defended their home court in a rout. The series will be a contrast between two teams that play under different concepts. The Cavaliers have great talent, but often seem out of sync as a team. On the other side of the court, the Raptors play an exciting brand of team ball. This might be the point in time when the Cavaliers pay the price for all the distractions they let interfere with the game this season. RAPTORS win the Eastern Conference in six games.
#1 Golden State Warriors (-180, -130)
#2 San Antonio Spurs (+200, +260)
#3 Oklahoma City Thunder (+700, +2000)
#4 LA Clippers (+2000, +4000)
#5 Portland Trail Blazers (+10000, +20000)
#6 Memphis Grizzlies (+15000, +30000)
#7 Utah Jazz (+50000, +100000)
#8 Houston Rockets (+5000, +10000)
(#8 Rockets at #1 Warriors) – The Rockets will get the first shot at the defending NBA champion Warriors. This is a bad matchup for the Rockets. They lost all three regular season games to the Warriors, though the average margin of victory was only 12 PPG. The biggest issue for the Rockets is they lack depth inside, which opens the door for Draymond Green to run free in the lane, which allows him to play a 2-man game on either side of the floor with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry raining threes at will. Rockets might win one at home, but the Warriors easily win the series in five.
(#7 Jazz at #2 Spurs) – Just when the Jazz looked like they were fading from playoff contention, they went on a late March run and got back into the playoff picture. Unfortunately, they have to play a Spurs team that beat them three times this season by a whopping 28 PPG. The Spurs are simply too big on the front line for the Jazz to handle. This one has all the makings of a “four and done” series favoring the Spurs.
(#6 Grizzlies at #3 Thunder) – The Thunder won the season series 2-1, thought it should be noted that Memphis’ win came before they lost All-Star center Marc Gasol for the season. The Grizzlies had some good runs this season without him, but came into April having lost 8 of its last 10 races. In the meantime, the Thunder have been one of the hottest teams in the league with 9 victories over its last 10 games. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook kicking it into high gear, the Grizzlies appear out-manned. Take the Thunder in six games.
(#5 Trailblazers at #4 Clippers) – With Blake Griffin prepared to return from injury, the Clippers will be at full strength. The Clippers hold a 3-1 series edge on the season with two of those victories coming without Griffin. Even though the Blazers have been playing good ball over the last 5 weeks, they just don’t match up well with the Clippers, who have a lot more depth on the outside. The Blazers might have had a chance without Blake playing, but he will be back and that means a series loss for the Blazers 4-2.
(#4 Clippers at #1 Warriors) – Even though the Warriors won all four games over the Clippers during the regular season, three of the games were very close. The Clippers are one of the few teams in the league that have enough depth to run with the Warriors and still keep fresh bodies on the court. With that said, they haven’t solved the Curry/Thompson problem. If they can’t do that, they can’t win the series. It could be a real war, but the Warriors are just playing too well at home and home court advantage belongs to them. Warriors in six games.
(#3 Thunder at #2 Spurs) – With one game left to play in the regular season, these two teams both defended their home court for a 1-1 season series split. This series will match San Antonio’s inside game and defense against the Thunder’s outside shooting. The Spurs have the best defense in the league and always find a way to defend another team’s star players. Unfortunately for the Thunder, they have the same problem as the Clippers. They don’t have home court advantage and the Spurs haven’t lost at home in well over a year. The Spurs are the play in an exciting seven game series.
(#2 Spurs at #1 Warriors) – Many people would argue that this series is for the NBA championship because these two teams are simply head and shoulders over the others. So far this season, these two teams have split a pair of games with two more still on the schedule. The last time they met, the Spurs found the winning formula for stopping Thompson and Curry during a 87-79 victory at home. When the Warriors won at home, it was a decisive victory. If both teams hold form and win at home as they have for over a year, the WARRIORS win in seven games.
(Raptors at Warriors) – All the NBA playoff predictions, NBA playoff picks and NBA playoffs betting have been concluded. Now they play the series. These two teams are almost mirror images of each other. They both have two outstanding guards, a good big man in the middle and play an up tempo game. While the Warriors won both games in the series between these two teams, the average margin of victory was only 3.5 PPG. With that said, the Warriors seem more likely to win one in Toronto than vice-versa.
Here’s the last NBA playoff tips of the year. Bet 80% of your money on the WARRIORS to repeat as champs and bet the other 20% on the Raptors as your hedge.