With about 10 games left to go in the regular season, the playoff races in both conferences are still pretty tight. But let’s see which team is in the best spot right now to beat the NBA odds and win the title.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 23: 59-52-4 ATS, 5-10 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
What a difference a month makes. When we last froze the hands of time and looked at which NBA teams were in playoff position, the Cleveland Cavaliers were the No. 5 “seed” in the Eastern Conference. But they were also 11-10 to win the East. Now the Cavs are 1-2 on the futures market at Bovada after climbing all the way to second in the conference standings. And our bold prediction about the Dallas Mavericks winning the West doesn’t look so hot anymore.
This time around, we’re going to mash up the two conferences and see if we can project who will win the championship. Naturally, the seedings are likely to change over the next few weeks, and that will have more than a minor impact on outcome. And these projections don’t take into account games in hand or tiebreakers or any of the league’s funky seeding rules – it’s just 1 through 8 as we go to press, heading into Tuesday’s action. We’ll lean on Bovada again for the NBA Odds for each team’s title run.
No. 1 Atlanta Hawks (10-1) vs. No. 8 Boston Celtics (200-1)
No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) vs. No. 7 Miami Heat (75-1)
No. 3 Toronto Raptors (50-1) vs. No. 6 Milwaukee Bucks (200-1)
No. 4 Chicago Bulls (16-1) vs. No. 5 Washington Wizards (66-1)
The higher seeds should prevail in all four of these matchups, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some interesting basketball along the way. LeBron James facing his former team would be fantastic. Jason Kidd will have some ideas on how to beat the Raptors, who are struggling right now; Kidd coached the Brooklyn Nets to a first-round victory over Toronto last year. And the Wizards could be dangerous if they can get their act together.
No. 1 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 4 Chicago Bulls
No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 3 Toronto Raptors
Cleveland shouldn’t have too much trouble dusting off the Raptors, which leaves us with a very interesting matchup between the Hawks and Bulls. In theory, Derrick Rose could be ready to return for the Bulls in time for this kayfabe second round; he’s trying to make it back sometime in early April. But Rose (16.0 PER, minus-1.3 BPM) might be more of a hindrance than a help at this point. We’ll go with the Hawks now that Kyle Korver is back.
No. 1 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers
We originally had Atlanta beating Cleveland in a very tough Eastern semifinal. But as brilliant as the Hawks have been this season, they’ve cooled off a bit, while the Cavs have only lost six games since mid-January. Cleveland is a much easier choice for the NBA picks this time.
No. 1 Golden State Warriors (11-4) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma City Thunder (16-1)
No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies (10-1) vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks (28-1)
No. 3 Houston Rockets (14-1) vs. No. 6 San Antonio Spurs (15-2)
No. 4 Portland Trail Blazers (33-1) vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers (20-1)
Things have changed. The Thunder are now in the 8-spot, but Kevin Durant has been shut down, and Serge Ibaka wouldn’t be available if the playoffs started today. The Mavs just aren’t the same with Rajon Rondo, and the Blazers have been swallowed whole by the injury bug. We’ll take the defending champion Spurs over the Rockets in what should be the best matchup of the four.
No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers
No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 6 San Antonio Spurs
We previously liked the Grizz to beat the Spurs in the first round, and that hasn’t changed. They’ve done it before, and they’re the better team this year. The Clippers don’t have enough depth for us to call for the upset in what should otherwise be an excellent series.
No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies
What is it with all this chalk? We thought Dallas had the right matchup to beat the Warriors, especially with Rick Carlisle as head coach. Dave Joerger is underrated, but he’s not quite in Carlisle’s class just yet.
No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers
So here we are at the great inevitable. In this scenario with these particular seedings, the young Warriors avoid any traps and make the finals, while Cleveland just keeps on steaming. Taking the basketball odds into account, we’d probably end up betting on Golden State, but straight up, we like LeBron and Friends to do what the 2010-11 Heat couldn’t do and win the title in Year One of the new King James Version.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Cavaliers