Injuries are shaking up the Western Conference playoff picture. Here's what you need to know before you make any NBA picks as we head into the Semifinals.
Oklahoma City Thunder's 118-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday moved them into a Western Conference Semifinal showdown with the San Antonio Spurs. On the other side of the bracket, the picture is opaque. Injuries mar the Clippers-Trail Blazers (2-2) and Warriors-Rockets (3-1) series, both matchups unsettled headed into Wednesday. Let us look at updated odds for the NBA Finals, and add the most valuable games to your NBA picks in the Western Conference playoffs.
The top portion of the postseason bracket is a mess. The Clippers lost both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to injuries in their 98-84 defeat to Portland on Monday. L.A. can live without at Griffin, as evident by his long stint on the sidelines in the regular season, but Paul? The dynamic point guard fractured his right hand and will miss the remainder of the postseason.
Paul is arguably the best floor general in the league, and his absence hits L.A. hard. In the regular season, the Clippers were 16.6 points per 100 possessions better with Paul on the hardwood, the third highest differential in the NBA behind Golden State's Draymond Green (25.9) and Steph Curry (22.0). L.A.'s average scoring margin in eight games Paul sat out this season: -3.9. When suiting up, the Clip owned a 5.1 points differential.
Tied 2-2 with the Trail Blazers, their chances at advancing to the Semifinals is in jeopardy, even with home-court advantage. As of Tuesday morning, L.A.'s odds to win the Finals are 70-1, down from 35-1 at the start of the first round.
Speaking of big hits, Steph Curry is down again this postseason with a sprained MCL. The reigning MVP is out two weeks minimum, and maybe more. Since last season, including the playoffs, Curry has missed seven games. The Warriors average scoring margin is -3.4 points as opposed to 10.8 when he plays.
Like Paul, his absence is huge. Although Golden State has the benefit of home-court advantage, if it makes it to the Western Conference title game, it will likely be a road underdog and its chances of winning two championships in a row less. The Warriors need the playoffs to stretch out to see Curry back, potentially. Sportsbooks are dealing 7-5 for a Warriors repeat even with the sharpshooter's injury, excessively short in our opinion given the circumstances.
In the bottom half of the bracket, the Spurs and Thunder are ready to rumble. Each breezed through the first round, winning by 18 points or more on average per game. Bettors may, or may not be surprised, to know that OKC is 13-7 SU and 15-5 ATS versus the Spurs in their last 20 meetings when both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant play. Coach Gregg Popovich rested two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard in two matchups, including OKC's 111-92 victory on March 26. Nonetheless, this series should be a competitive one.
Oddsmakers have yet to post the series line as of publication, but one can shop around and find 7-to-4 NBA odds on the Spurs, and as high as 9-1 on the Thunder, to win the Western Conference, which screams value at this point in the playoffs.
Here are the updated odds for teams still vying for the Western Conference championship, as well as their price to win the Finals now and before the first round:
|eam||Current Western Conference Odds||Current Finals Odds||Pre First Round|
|Golden State Warriors||-115||+140||-200|
|San Antonio Spurs||+150||+230||+400|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+800||+1700||+2000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+3500||+7000||+3500|