NBA playoff odds
It’s that time of year again, when cities like Memphis and Indianapolis are suddenly on the tip of all basketball fans’ tongues. The NBA playoffs are the most exciting two months in sports and with the opening round commencing this weekend, we now present which team has the highest percentage chance of hosting the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of June. And with apologies to Bulls fans, with the Derrick Rose injury, the 10 percent chance you once had is now zero.
Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets (zero percent each).
These numbers don’t reflect that these teams can’t win a playoff series or even two for a team like Chicago (even without Rose) or the Knicks, it’s just that the flaws that each team has have historically proved to be fatal. Philadelphia, Indiana, Orlando, Utah and Denver can beat any team on a given night.
Beating a team four times without a number one scorer to go to in crunch time has always failed teams in the past and this group is no different. Sure Denver can go ten deep, but if Ty Lawson has to take the last shot with the season on the line, I’m not feeling so great about that.
Chicago can’t win without a healthy Derrick Rose, the Knicks can’t win without an A plus Amare Stoudemire and Atlanta has never advanced past the second round in 15 attempts over 41 years. Sometimes things are just that simple.
Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks (5 percent each).
There is no good reason why either of these teams shouldn’t win a championship, absolutely none. They do, however, have that one star player who if he plays out of his mind, might just have a say before everything is all said and done.
Dirk Nowitzki put an entire city on his back in last year’s playoffs and finally won his long sought after championship. The Mavericks are a great team that won it all last year, but if Dirk somehow is able to find the form he showed last season, the impossible may just become somewhat attainable. Plus, Dallas has the crown, and while it may lie heavy for most teams, this one won’t go down without a six- or seven-game fight.
Chris Paul, on the other hand, has never won an MVP, never made it to the conference finals, yet seems more tested than almost any other player in these playoffs based off how much of a burden he carries for his team each year. The Clipper team to which he was traded in the off-season wouldn’t be sniffing the playoffs without his contributions. He makes his teammates better every single night and is the best player at the most important position. If a perfect storm collides, just maybe, Lob City could become title town.
Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies (10 percent each).
No team in the entire playoffs wants to face either of these teams for a variety of reasons. Boston is the old dog that will never be put down until it literally cannot move any farther. They should have imploded midseason, but didn’t. Garnett, Pierce and Allen shouldn’t be playing at this high of a level, but they are.
The Celtics also have the biggest asset that any team could have: they’ve been there. Winning in 2008, being a Kendrick Perkins ACL away from doing it again in 2010 and a Rondo elbow from upsetting Miami last season bodes well for knowing every nuance of what it takes to bring a title back to the Garden.
Memphis provides every match up nightmare that a team could go up against. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol destroyed San Antonio’s front line last year, and were a triple overtime loss against the Thunder from making the conference finals. Plus, after missing the playoffs last year, swingman Rudy Gay is back and ready to be the end game go-to scorer that they missed last year. Their bench is among the best in the championship chase led by sharpshooting O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen.
Allen that has shown he can and will still shut down any player that his team will see. From Tony Parker to Wade and James, even Kobe Bryant, there is no man that Allen shies away from. With that said, Memphis is the defined dark horse for this year, after coming so close to doing it last year.
Oklahoma City Thunder (10 percent).
It should be their time. They’ve been through the wars the past few years and for many reasons, should be able to make that last step forward and take care of business. But for all the reasons they can win, there are glaring holes that will catch up to them.
Durant and Westbrook live and die by the jump shot, especially in end game situations. In the playoffs, forcing the refs to blow their whistle always makes life easier, just ask Dwayne Wade in 2006. Not to say they can’t go to the basket, which they do on a consistent basis, but when the game is tied and the last shot is drawn up, is usually ends with a fadeaway clanking of the rim and more questions being asked.
Can they find that fifth gear necessary to win 16 games in two months? To silence all the critics asking about Durant and Westbrook’s chemistry and if this year is the year it all comes together. They have two months to do it.
Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs (15 percent each).
After all these years, through Kobe and Shaq versus Robinson and Duncan, these teams will have a chance to meet in yet another series. Except now, it’s Kobe, Bynum and Gasol versus Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and a whole lot of depth. I’ve written it before and I’ll say it again, Bynum holds the Lakers’ fate in his hands and is a foolish suspension or 25 points and 15 rebounds away from swinging any series that he’s a part of.
The Spurs have made the best use of the shortened season by resting their stars at opportune times and getting the most out of their role players. Basically, the opposite of what the Lakers have done. Every player on the Spurs’ bench knows his role and what his minute production each game will be. You can’t put a price on how much that continuity helps them. Similar to Chris Paul, Tony Parker has been the best player all year and has his team by the throat. Few point guards have been as productive from a scoring and table setting perspective this year.
Kobe wants his sixth. He’d probably sacrifice years off his life for it. The Lakers still rely on him for all leadership and at times, coaching responsibilities. I can’t see him not playing his best basketball at this time of year, but if this team falls short, the shoulder of the blame will likely go to him. He wouldn’t want it any other way.
Miami Heat (30 percent).
There are no excuses left if this team falls short. LeBron just had about as good of a regular season that we could have expected given the short and combusted season. A season that is certainly worthy of his third MVP trophy. Bosh and Wade are at full strength after battling mild injuries during the season’s early months. Unfortunately, with Rose out with injury, we as fans are robbed of a potential Heat-Bulls conference finals. Truthfully though, there’s no way Miami would have lost that series anyway.
They have numerous matchup advantages over any Western Conference team that they may face and given last year’s Finals disappointment, made adjustments for in free agent pickups. LeBron may be at the halftime of his career, but the fourth quarter is what everyone will be focused on. After failing so miserably last year, he only has one choice: answer all the critics or face the fact that you will always be answering questions about how you came up short.
This is going to be a fun few months.