Rockets, Warriors on Collision Course for Wild West Supremacy

Doug Upstone

Thursday, April 12, 2018 4:10 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018 4:10 PM UTC

The convoluted Western Conference playoff chase sorted itself out and the best eight teams have advanced. Now the fun begins with some first-round series and potential future matchups.

NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Betting Outlook

In looking at the numbers from 5Dimes on the NBA odds board, you immediately notice that the regular-season champion Houston Rockets are not the favorites to come out of the West. No, the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors have that honor, based on making the last three NBA Finals and how good they could be again if they get 100 percent healthy.

Odds to Win Western Conference
  • Golden State Warriors -103
  • Houston Rockets +123
  • Oklahoma City Thunder +2800
  • Portland Trail Blazers +3250
  • Utah Jazz +4750
  • San Antonio Spurs +5500
  • Minnesota Timberwolves +10000
  • New Orleans Pelicans +10000

Though we don't have an official tally, one has to think more than 90 percent of futures bets on the West winner will be on Golden State or Houston. If you are thinking about a long shot for your NBA picks, there is only one choice: Portland. Since 1969, only once has a team not seeded in the top three in either conference won the NBA championship, and that was sixth-seeded Houston in 1995.

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The NBA playoff matchups are set!

West:
- Rockets vs. Wolves
- Warriors vs. Spurs
- Blazers vs. Pelicans
- Thunder vs. Jazz pic.twitter.com/T7UnLU9T46

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 12, 2018
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West Finals Participants

Barring further debilating injuries, Houston and Golden State are on a collision course for the Western Conference Finals. With every game televised and the schedule so spread out, that has to help Houston to get defensive-stopper Luc Mbah a Moute back for the second round.

Meanwhile, the prognosis is for Stephen Curry to be back in the second round and, of course, Golden State would want him back near the start of that series so he can get into game shape. For Houston's James Harden and Chris Paul, these playoffs mean everything. Can they reach The Finals?

West Semifinals Competitors

Besides Houston and Golden State, the other teams vying for a spot in the West Final Four are Portland, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Utah.

The Trail Blazers almost gagged and surrendered the third seed, but defeated Utah in Game 82 to hold on. The guard tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is nearly impossible to stop. But to beat New Orleans and pull off a monstrous upset of Golden State, center Jusuf Nurkic has to dominate and the bench has to put up numbers.

The Pelicans match up fairly well, with three strong guards who can score from the outside or drive to the basket. If Anthony Davis can win the center battle decidedly over Nurkic, New Orleans could engineer upset. The teams split four games and the outright winner was 4-0 ATS.

By virtue of winning three of four meetings, Oklahoma City has the home-court advantage over Utah in the first-round matchup. The Thunder have been perplexing all season, but the common refrain that OKC is built for the playoffs. Now we find out. The Jazz hit almost all the high notes in closing 17-4 (12-9 ATS) with the return of center Rudy Gobert. Will the Thunder's three superstars prevail over Utah's defense and balance?

Moving on: Portland and Utah

Thanks For Playing; Enjoy the Wine in Europe

It is well established that millennials traded in their Pabst beer cans for bottles of wine. NBA players are people too, and there have been several articles on this topic all over the inter-web. San Antonio and Minnesota will join New Orleans and Oklahoma City -- along with four teams from the Eastern Conference -- in starting their offseason earlier than desired.

Seeing the Spurs push the Warriors to six games would not be a complete surprise. And Game 3 in Minnesota (and possibly Game 4 if the Wolves pull off a Game 3 upset) will be particularly fun with the Timberwolves back in the playoffs after a long drought. However, this is mostly fluff.

One Final Thought

Maybe Golden State returns to the NBA Finals four a fourth straight year, but with all the injuries and how much better Houston is playing defensively, it seems like the Rockets are the right choice.

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