The NBA Playoffs are finally here! After one of the most gruelling seasons in the league’s history, we reach the postseason with many teams rising as possible contenders for the title. So it’s time for us to take a look at the favorites to win the NBA Championship this year.
The star-studded Brooklyn Nets are the overwhelming favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season, after finishing the regular season with the most efficient offense in league history. The team relies on three of the best players in this generation – Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving – but also has quality depth; Joe Harris is one of the best shooters in the league, Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton are talented young players, and Blake Griffin proved to be a great mid-season addition to the Nets front court.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets face the Boston Celtics with the home court advantage. Following an uninspired night in Game 1, the Nets marched to a blowout 130-108 win in Game 2, with great performances by Durant, with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks, and Harris, who shot 70 percent from the arch and finished with 25 points.
The Brooklyn Nets are at -115 odds to win the Eastern Conference and reach The Finals, with +195 odds to win the championship.
Los Angeles Lakers
Although the team struggled with injuries throughout the season, the Los Angeles Lakers are still one of the favorites to win the championship. Anthony Davis and LeBron James missed several games in the second half of the season, as the team fell in the rankings to seventh place, and had to beat the Warriors in the play-in tournament to reach the Playoffs. But AD and LeBron are back and, even though they’re 100 percent fit, they seem ready to carry the Lakers to another Finals appearance.
They now face the Phoenix Suns, who had the second best overall campaign in the league led by Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The Suns won game 1, as the Lakers offense had an inconsistent night, with Davis shooting only 31 percent from the field and James scoring less than 20 points. However, Los Angeles came back in the series, with great wins in games 2 and 3.
After three games in the first round of the Playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers are at +135 odds to win the Western Conference, with +310 odds to win the championship, according to sportsbooks on USGamblingSites.com.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks finished the regular season with strong performances. The team had an irregular start to the season, but rose in the Eastern Conference rankings in the past months, and reached the playoffs as the third seed. Throughout the season, the Bucks experimented with several defensive coverages that could help them in the postseason, and Jrue Holiday, acquired in a trade with the Pelicans in the offseason, made an instant impact in their backcourt.
The Bucks face the reigning Eastern Conference Champions Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, and, after three comfortable wins, the team looks set to a sweep in the series. According to sportsbooks, they are at +550 odds to win the championship.
The Utah Jazz had the best overall campaign in the league, with a 52-20 record. Quin Snyder put together a great team, with Donovan Mitchell as the main star and Rudy Gobert as the team’s defensive anchor, and is one of the finalists for the Coach of the Year award. But other players have also been in great form recently, including Joe Ingles, and the Sixth Man of the Year award winner, Jordan Clarkson.
In the first round, the Jazz face eight seed Memphis Grizzlies, who beat the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament. Utah was expected to cruise through the series, with many analysts projecting a series sweep. However, the Grizzlies, carried by Ja Morant, pulled a great upset and won game 1 at the Vivint Arena. In game 2, Mitchell returned from an ankle injury, and carried the team to a victory to tie the series, despite Morant’s 47 points. Analysts and sportsbooks rank the Utah Jazz odds to win the championship at +700.
The Philadelphia 76ers finished the regular season with the best campaign in the Eastern Conference, with a 49-23 record, and the No.2 defense in the league. Despite having the fifth best odds to win the championship, they are true contenders in the East, as they’ll only face the Nets or the Bucks in the conference finals, with both teams probably clashing in the semifinals.
The 76ers take on Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. Joel Embiid showed why he’s one of the finalists for the MVP Award, and led the team to two comfortable wins in games 1 and 2. Philadelphia is at +800 odds to win the championship, according to sportsbooks.