NBA Futures Odds: Ranking the Final Five Playoff Teams
by Aaron Smith - 5/25/2012
The Western Conference Finals are set and one participant in the East is ready to go. All that is left to decide is the winner of the Philadelphia and Boston series. That one is all tied up at three a piece heading into Saturday’s Game 7.
Five teams remain in the hunt for an NBA title. Which teams have the best chance to win it all this year? Since the start of the NBA Playoffs, has anything occurred that significantly changed the outlook? Let’s take a look at the final five teams along with their odds to win the NBA Championship. Odds to win it all are according to current lines at 5Dimes unless otherwise posted.
No. 5 - Philadelphia 76ers (+7,000)
The 76ers are clearly the huge underdog of the five teams remaining. Hardly anyone thought this team would still be around at this point in the playoffs. Doug Collins has done a terrific job with this young team. Philadelphia is winning largely because of their strong defense. They have quietly been a Top 5 defense all season long.
Even though this team has shown a lot in the postseason, we must remember they benefited in a big way from the Bulls being without Derrick Rose and then Joakim Noah. Philadelphia goes through long droughts on the offensive end, and that wouldn’t give them much of a chance against the elite teams.
No. 4 - Boston Celtics (+1,550)
The latest NBA odds from BetOnline show Boston as a 5.5-point favorite in Game 7 against Philadelphia. Though the Celtics are pretty heavy favorites in that game, the oddsmakers are giving them very little chance of winning the Eastern Conference. Bookmaker currently lists Miami as a massive -600 favorite to win the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Garnett has been the most consistent Celtic in the postseason. Rajon Rondo has been very inconsistent, and they need him to be a star on a nightly basis. Ray Allen is struggling in a big way with his shooting stroke since missing a number of games at the end of the season. It’s tough to understand why such a veteran team would be so inconsistent, but they simply don’t seem to have what it takes to win another title.
No. 3 - Oklahoma City Thunder (+375)
Oklahoma City has dropped only one game so far in the playoffs. They swept the defending champions in the first round and took out the mighty Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. This young group is clearly growing as a team. It appears there may be yet another “Big Three” with Durant, Westbrook, and Harden in Oklahoma City.
TopBet lists the Spurs at -200 and the Thunder at +160 to win the Western Conference Finals. Oklahoma City certainly has the talent to win this series, but they’ll have to show a lot of maturity against the four-time champions. Westbrook and Harden must outplay Parker and Ginobili for the Thunder to get past the Spurs. I think the series is a tight one, but I give the Spurs the edge based on their recent excellent play.
No. 2 - Miami Heat (+160)
Miami benefits a great deal from being in the weaker of the two conferences. There is no doubt that teams in the Western Conference have a far tougher road to the NBA Finals than those in the Eastern Conference. Miami looked lost in Game 3 against Indiana, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dominated in the final three games of that series.
The status of Chris Bosh is unknown, but the team definitely needs his services. Without him, they can’t be considered the favorites against Oklahoma City or San Antonio. If Bosh does return and play at nearly full strength, Miami is an extremely dangerous team. The Heat have an underrated half-court defense, and if they commit themselves on that end of the floor they are tough to beat. Miami is a very close second in my Top 5 rankings.
No. 1 - San Antonio Spurs (+160)
The Spurs have won 18 straight games. San Antonio’s average margin of victory in the first two rounds was 13.75 points. There is no better definition of the word ‘team’ than the Spurs. Tim Duncan seems to have rolled back the clock a few years in the 2012 playoffs. Tony Parker is playing the best basketball of his career. Still, the most impressive part of this squad is their amazing team chemistry.
The Spurs are shooting 42.3 percent from beyond the arc in the playoffs, and they were the best three-point shooting team in the regular season as well. Depth is a major strength for the Spurs. The rotation has gotten a bit tighter in the playoffs, but the Spurs still have 0 guys averaging at least 14 minutes of playing time per contest. No other team in the NBA has this type of depth.
It also doesn’t hurt that San Antonio has the league’s best coach, Gregg Popovich, on the sidelines. It’s hard to put anyone other than the Spurs at the top spot right now.
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