Breakdown of the NBA playoff chances

Breakdown of the NBA playoff chances

Western Conference

Golden State Warriors – 2/1

In an article I wrote about the Warriors earlier in the year I said “in sport you have to expect the unexpected.” Well, here we are. After a record breaking season where they escaped any major injury setbacks, it took less than a week of playoff basketball for that to be undone. The wheels have fallen off the bus. Actually, the driver has got out of the bus and sprained his knee while doing so. Luckily for the Warriors, MVP Steph Curry will only be out for around two weeks. However, this still leaves them without their leading scorer against either their arch rivals the Los Angeles Clippers or the Portland Trail Blazers. It’s unlikely he will be out for the entire series, but it is possible for him to come back too late to save his team. Nevertheless the Warriors are still the favourites to make it to the Finals, although if there are any more bumps in the road, it may derail their entire season. 


San Antonio Spurs – 5/1

Three years ago, people said the Spurs were too old and too slow. They had no chance against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Yet two Finals appearances and one championship later (it would have been two if not for Professor Clutch Ray Allen), and the Spurs are still hanging around with a distinct chance of going back to the promised land. Of course they no longer rely on their old troopers, instead placing the baton in the hands of arguably the best two-way player in the league Kawhi Leonard. He is the heart and soul of this current team, and with LaMarcus Aldridge, will carry this Spurs team as far as they can go. However, they face a tough challenge against Oklahoma in the second round, and will need to play at their very best to overcome them. As per usual, the tactical nous of Greg Popovich will be a key contributing factor to this side’s success, and he will no doubt have studied OKC for weeks on end in preparation for this series. If they can get past OKC, then there is no reason why they couldn’t beat Golden State and possibly win it all.


Oklahoma City Thunder – 15/1

For all the critics of their “two-man team”, the Thunder actually had a really good opening series against the Dallas Mavericks. In the five games against the Mavs, OKC had three blow out wins and lost only one game – by one point. There were strong contributions from the likes of centres Steven Adams and Enes Kanter, as well as the usual dominance from superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. However, with a tough series against the Spurs coming up, OKC will need a more consistent production from its bench, which has been its Achilles heel in the past. There’s no way that OKC will win by relying on its two stars, but if players like Kanter, Adams, Serge Ibaka, Dion Waiters, and Andre Roberson can at least make an impact and take the load off Durant and Westbrook’s shoulders, then they have a distinct chance of victory. Of course, OKC will also have to pray to the heavens that neither Durant nor Westbrook get injured during the series, otherwise their season will be over in a heartbeat. In good form, OKC should be able to force a six or seven game series against the Spurs, but as previously mentioned, bench production will be crucial to the final result.


Portland Trail Blazers – 100/1

The Blazers have been very impressive this season for a side that lost four of its five starters in the offseason. Credit has to be given to coach Terry Stotts for bringing this mediocre looking side to the playoffs, and quite possibly, the second round. But even if they do upset the Clippers, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to repeat the same against the Warriors, and even less likely to defeat either the Spurs of Thunder in the Conference Finals. Strange things have happened, but nothing that strange. It would be cool to see this team go on a run and maybe take the Warriors to six or seven games, but they just don’t have the manpower to get any further.


Los Angeles Clippers – 250/1

Chris Paul has broken his hand and will miss the rest of the playoffs. That’s all that needs to be said really. With their talisman gone, the Clippers will be lucky to make the next round, never mind the Finals. It seems like the dynasty that fans had hoped for when Paul signed with the team in 2011 will never eventuate, and it now seems likely that there will be a change of personnel in the offseason. Only if every other team in the West suffers serious injuries to their stars will give the Clippers any hope of progressing. That’s unlikely, which in turn makes their chances to do so equally unlikely. See you next season L.A.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavaliers – 2/3

The Cavs are still easily the best team in the East despite not having a particularly great regular season. They showed how superior they are in the first round against the Pistons, sweeping the up-and-coming Detroit side in just four games. It’s unlikely that they will face a really tough test in either of the next two rounds, as quite simply the other sides just don’t have enough strength to knock them off in a seven game series. Now remember these are just the odds for making the Finals, not winning it all. In all honesty, the Cavs will struggle against both the Spurs and Warriors, and could even lose to the Thunder, if the Oklahoma side make it that far. But as for coming out of the East, they shouldn’t have too many problems.


Miami Heat – 15/1

If they have made it out of the first round as this goes to print, then Miami are probably second favourites to get out of the East and into the Finals. On paper they have a pretty strong side, and if injuries don’t come into play, particularly to the aging Dwayne Wade, then they could have a legitimate shot at beating the Cavs in the Conference Finals. Having said that, they have struggled to overcome a Charlotte Hornets side that isn’t exactly oozing with talent, so they would need to greatly improve to even have a shot at the Cavs in the first place. It’s difficult to say much more as they are still locked in a series with the Hornets, so it pays not to speculate too much.


Toronto Raptors – 20/1

The Raptors really should have capitalised on the Cavs inconsistency during the regular season, but instead suffered the same way. They’ll be pleased with the fact that they made it out of the first round this year, after embarrassing losses in the past two seasons. But for all their success in the regular season, this team just lacks the talent to put teams away at will and, as shown with their series with the Pacers, can drag series out for far too long. They’ll play either Miami or Charlotte in the second round, and will probably end up in a hard fought battle that could go all seven games. If they win that, it’s hard to see them putting up much of a fight against the Cavs as fatigue surely would have crept in. However, they still have a presence in All Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan so you never know.


Atlanta Hawks – 50/1

It has to be said that most of the teams in the Eastern conference aside from the Cavs are all pretty even. The Hawks took a step back this season after a record sixty wins last year, but have proved so far against the Boston Celtics that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for the Hawks they face Cleveland in the second round, a team that swept them in the conference finals last season. Considering the Hawks have arguably taken a step back since then, it’s difficult to see the outcome end in their favour. However, as seen in the West, all it takes is one injury to derail a team’s season, and the Hawks will be practicing all kinds of black magic in the hope of having LeBron James sitting on the bench rather than playing. Probably won’t happen though.


Charlotte Hornets – 100/1

Currently locked in a tough series against Miami, the Hornets will believe that they could make a golden run if they overcome their South Beach rivals. Certainly not the strongest team in the conference, the Hornets rely heavily on their guards for point production, particularly Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin. However, both are heat check players, and if they aren’t on form, then neither is their team. Really hard to see them in the Finals, but thanks to the lucky draw, could get to the conference finals. Still have to beat Miami though.


Boston Celtics – 250/1

At the time of writing the Celtics have just been blown out by thirty points against Atlanta, meaning they now have to win the next two games to go through to the next round. That’s pretty unlikely. Even more unlikely is if they beat the Cavs in the next round if they did get through. It’s simply not going to happen this season for the Celtics, but with plenty of strong draft picks and possible free agent pick-ups, expect a stronger team to come back next year.


Indiana Pacers – 500/1

The Pacers are also down three games to two against the Toronto Raptors. Sorry, but again, it’s not happening. They might get to the next round, but that’s it. See you next year Indiana.

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2016.
Posted 11:01am Sunday 1st May 2016 by Sean Nugent.