While the NBA Odds to make the playoffs are a preseason futures wager, the NBA Odds to make the playoffs are still quite relevant when we talk here at the halfway point. Looking at some of the projections from different sites, as well as a team’s NBA Championship odds can give you a good idea on who will be in and who will be out.
Basketball Reference has a great Playoff Probabilities Report that simulates the rest of the season in order to give you a more accurate look at where teams stand now, as well as where they could stand in the future. In the East, as you can imagine, the locks to make the playoffs include the Cavaliers and Raptors with 100 percent playoff chances, as well as the Celtics and the Hawks. While there is no surprise in the Cavs or the Raptors, the Celtics are a team to look out for in the second half of the season.
There have been some reports that the Cavs, Knicks and Celtics are in talks on a three-way trade that could place Carmelo Anthony in Cleveland and Kevin Love in Boston, which would really improve not only the Celtics’ playoff chances, but even their Eastern Conference Finals chances. The East is not as good as the first quarter of the season showed us, and one big trade to bring in a super star could be all it takes for the Celtics to go from a good to great team. Right now the NBA Odds makers at Bovada have the Celtics at +1600 just to win the East, and +5000 to win the NBA Title. While it seems farfetched now, bringing in a Love or even Blake Griffin could make the difference for the Cavs.
In the West the locks are pretty simple as well. The Thunder, Spurs, Clippers and of course the Warriors all have 100 percent chances of making the playoffs in the Western Conference. While there is some breathing room between the Warriors and the rest of the West when it comes to future odds, the Warriors seem pretty unstoppable right now, and it might take a significant injury for them to fall out of the championship hunt.
Starting in the West, the Jazz, Mavericks and Grizzlies all have very solid chances of making the playoffs according to Basketball Reference, and all three should be in the big game barring a big sell off trade. Which brings me to the Grizzlies, who might be without Marc Gasol for the rest of the regular season, which could be enough to make them a fade when it comes to playoff NBA odds.
In the Eastern Conference, the Pacers, Heat, Hornets, Pistons and Bulls are all bunched up in the 65 to 89 percent range when it comes to odds of making the playoffs, and while the East is much better than it has been over the last few seasons, one of these teams might not make it. While there is a big drop off from the Bulls at 64 percent, and the Wizards at 9 percent, the rest of the season could bring some wild changes to teams via trade or injury, so while it seems as if the eight teams from the East could be already set, crazier things have happened.
The Long Shots
Finally we get to the long shots according to Basketball Reference, and in the East the long shots are basically only the Wizards and Magic. Both teams came into this season with playoff aspirations, but both have stumbled for one reason or another. Orlando has the better team by far in my opinion, both on offense and defense, and right now they are only 3.5 games back of the eight seed right now, and there is only 7 ½ games separating the 3rd seed and the Magic who are 3 ½ out of the playoffs right now.
In the West, the only real long shots are the Kings and Rockets, and while the Rockets might be in, they also might trade away Dwight Howard and choose to tank the rest of the season. The Kings will lose their draft pick if they make it into the playoffs, so they’ll have to decide what is more important, but with all of the dysfunction surrounding the Kings, I wouldn’t go betting on them to make the playoffs with my NBA picks any time soon, even though they are only 4 ½ games out of the 8th seed.