NBA Western Conference Playoff Betting Odds and Expert Predictions
The NBA Western Conference playoffs are shaping up to be a lot more interesting than they have been in recent years. The Warriors are more vulnerable than they have been in recent years, so their win doesn't feel inevitable. Houston is deadly serious and ready to shake off the embarrassment of last year. And though the rest are far behind the top two, this is the most compelling and tightly-contested first round we have seen in a long, long time.
All four series have the potential to be great. Well, three anyway - the Rockets are going to turn the Timberwolves into puppies in a hurry. Of the eight teams, there are six that I want to discuss when it comes to their futures odds (Odds to win the NBA Western Conference are from BetOnline ):
Golden State Warriors (+100): Wow, this is a tough team to judge. They have been hit incredibly hard by injuries down the stretch, and they played some really awful basketball as a result. Steph Curry is out - likely for at least the whole first round. And they don't seem to have either the magic or the hunger that they have had in recent years.
But they still have Kevin Durant, and he has been great this year. And they are going to get healthy at some point, and Curry will be fresh - which will only make them more dangerous. If Kawhi Leonard was going to be healthy and near 100 percent then maybe I'd be more afraid. But I'm not at all confident that that will happen.
I think they are going to be fine and they will make the Conference Finals. And I think that is a toss-up if it is against the Rockets and if Curry is playing. So, if it's essentially a coin toss, and I get even money to bet on it should I do it? Well, no - at best you can break even, and there is more risk here than when it is just a question of heads or tails.
I you put a gun to my head I'd still say the Warriors are winning it, but there is not any value at all to be had. Not even close.
Houston Rockets (+125): They are incredibly talented - Harden will be MVP, and he doesn't have to do it alone. They are well coached. They had a great season and closed out strong. And they are very hungry. But there are knocks - most significantly that they have yet to prove that they can win when it matters. I've given the nod to experience in their seemingly inevitable showdown with the Warriors - and I like Kerr better in the coaching matchup, too. But if you were going to bet the Rockets I certainly wouldn't argue with you.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+2000): And now we are on to the next tier. The Thunder are interesting. On paper they are the most talented of the non-Big Two. They should be a much better team than they are. But I hate the coaching. And the talent hasn't come together like it needed to. I certainly wouldn't bet on them at this price because I don't even have them coming out of the first round.
Portland Trail Blazers (+2500): This first-round matchup with New Orleans is, to me, the most interesting of a very strong group of series. It's not because either team is a contender - they aren't. But it should be a joy to watch. Each team has two guys who play extremely well together - like they are in each other's minds. Each team has a supporting cast that is imperfect but has some nice pieces. And each team has decent-but-not-quite-ideal coaching.
I have played the series out in my mind a dozen times, and each time it turns out differently. I give Portland a small edge, but ultimately it's going to be whichever MVP candidate steps up most that wins. It's going to be fun - but don't bet the Blazers at this price.
San Antonio Spurs (+3300): It feels like a bit of a last hurrah for the Spurs. People are questioning for the first time whether Gregg Popovich is mortal after all. Kawhi Leonard's health is a mystery, but his happiness doesn't feel like one - he looks like he wants to leave. And much of the core is a long way from young. A few years ago a price like this would have been impossible to imagine. Now the only thing I can't imagine is a scenario under which I would possibly consider betting the price.
Utah Jazz (+3300): The Jazz aren't winning the West - I'll be clear on that up front. And there is no value here - it doesn't matter what the price is when something isn't going to happen. But man, do I like this team. I got a chance to watch them in person twice last week - a win over a fun-but-outmatched Lakers team, and a laugher of a win over a pathetic Clippers team that had started their offseason a week early. While the competition wasn't good, I was very impressed with this team.
Rudy Gobert is so legit - a freak of a defender. Donovan Mitchell is so much better in person than on TV - and he's no slouch on video. And Ricky Rubio is just playing with a freedom and joy that is contagious. This is an easy team to like - and one that is going to win a playoff series.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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