NBA Playoffs Futures Odds Revealing

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NBA Playoffs Futures Odds Revealing


2009-04-13

With the NBA playoffs about to commence, 16 teams will battle fatigue, injuries, and each other over the course of the next two months for the coveted Larry O'Brien Trophy. Boston is of course, the defending champion and hopes to be at full strength to make another run at the title. Hoping to knock the Celtics off their perch are other frontrunners like Cleveland, Orlando, and the Lakers however. Those latter clubs are the biggest threats to Boston's supremacy, but there are several others, particularly in the Western Conference, who hope to have their say as well. With that in mind, here is a look at both conferences and each team's chances, using Sportsbook.com's playoff futures odds as a guide. After all, these are the "experts" right? In any case, let's see if we can uncover any potential mistakes they've made.

Eastern Conference
The Eastern Conference boasts three of the top four teams in the NBA in terms of both record and chances at winning the Finals' series in June. Cleveland will be the top seed, and that could be a huge advantage in that the Cavaliers will be able to avoid both Boston and Orlando until the conference finals. Beyond those three clubs, the remaining teams will be hard pressed to make much noise in the postseason. Here's a look at each Eastern Conference club along with their odds and reasons as to why they can/can't reach the ultimate destination.

Atlanta Hawks
Odds to win NBA Title: +2500
Odds to win Eastern Conference: +5000
Reasons they can win: Atlanta has a young, athletic, and diverse starting five that has proven the ability to compete, especially on the home court. The Hawks have also shown streak-ability, as CBS' Clark Kellogg might say.
Reasons they can't: To get to the NBA Finals, Atlanta might have to go through Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, and then Dwight Howard (or the Celtics).

Boston Celtics
Odds to win NBA Title: +450
Odds to win Eastern Conference: +200
Reasons they can win: The Celtics are the defending champs and their veteran leaders figure to play with the "Heart of a Champion" come postseason time. They are a big game team with several clutch big-play makers, including Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Reasons they can't: Kevin Garnett's nagging injury problems are a HUGE challenge for this team to overcome. If he is not healthy, Boston's lineup inside is suspect and takes away the only advantage they have over Cleveland.

Chicago Bulls
Odds to win NBA Title: +10000
Odds to win Eastern Conference: +5000
Reasons they can win: The Bulls have come on like gangbusters in the second half of the season as they've grown more accustomed to Vinny Del Negro's coaching ways. The personnel changes Chicago made at mid-season also helped immensely, bringing in Miller and Salmons from Sacramento. Also, Derrick Rose is a future all-star/MVP candidate.
Reasons they can't: Fighting from the 7th or 8th seed in the East this year is going to be nearly impossible to overcome. In some ways, you'd rather be #8 and hope for a miracle takedown of Cleveland then a more manageable matchup in the second round. Also, Chicago isn't anywhere near as good defensively as it was under Scott Skiles.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Odds to win NBA Title: +175
Odds to win Eastern Conference: -200
Reasons they can win: Lebron James and home court advantage are enough reasons why Cleveland will be disappointed this June if it does NOT win the NBA championship. With odds of -200 to win the East, oddsmakers seem to be telling us to expect to see James and valuable offseason addition Mo Williams playing in the Finals in June.
Reasons they can't: Regular season success is no automatic indicator of postseason happiness. Cleveland has stumbled a bit down the stretch, having big time problems covering pointspreads in the last month and a half. The Cavs also lost their final meetings of the year versus both Orlando and Boston.

Detroit Pistons
Odds to win NBA Title: +10000
Odds to win Eastern Conference: +5000
Reasons they can win: Experience. This is the only reason I can think of. Experts will point to Detroit as a difficult first round matchup simply because of the postseason success the franchise has enjoyed in recent years.
Reasons they can't: This Pistons' team is just a shell of its former self. The trading away of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson was a disaster, but it only gave the team another excuse for what was already a steep decline in play. Detroit doesn't have the same defensive intensity or team unity it had pre-Michael Curry.

Miami Heat
Odds to win NBA Title: +4000
Odds to win Eastern Conference: +2000
Reasons they can win: Dwyane Wade has put this team on his back the entire season just as he did in the 2006 NBA playoffs. If you recall, the Heat won the title that year.
Reasons they can't: Dwyane Wade has put this team on his back. Simply put, there is no other team in the NBA's postseason that has so few other options than Miami. If Wade isn't on top of his game, this team could be swept out of a series. The Heat were 1-6 down the stretch versus playoff teams as well.

Orlando Magic
Odds to win NBA Title: +1000
Odds to win Eastern Conference: +450
Reasons they can win: Orlando is the best long distance shooting team in the league and that dynamic forms the perfect balance for all-world big man Dwight Howard. The Magic are also the league's best spread covering team, one of the top performing road clubs, and stellar against the Western Conference. A good run of shooting could net them a title.
Reasons they can't: Orlando figures to have to go through Boston, Cleveland and Los Angeles to win the title. If the 3-point shooting goes awry in any one of those series', this team is in trouble. The Magic also lack players with deep playoff experience.

Philadelphia 76ers
Odds to win NBA Title: +10000
Odds to win Eastern Conference: +4000
Reasons they can win: Like Chicago, the 76ers played their better basketball down the stretch, if for no other reason than finally settling on a lineup that would work the rest of the way once Elton Brand went down. The coaching change to Tony DiLeo has also provided a spark.
Reasons they can't: The midseason magic has worn off of late, as the 76ers have struggled, particularly on the road as the season has wound down. With a probable matchup vs. Orlando or Boston in round one, Philly might have to steal two games on the road to have any chance to win a series.

Western Conference
The Western Conference playoff race figures to be the Lakers versus everyone else. Los Angeles has sprinted away from the pack this season, and believe me, I do mean pack. The #2 through #8 teams in the West are grouped as closely as any other season in the history of the NBA. The teams in that range are so closely matched that it doesn't figure to even matter which teams play with home court edge in their respective series'. Rather, success will probably hinge on which teams execute better on both ends of the court for a prolonged period of time. However, none of it will likely matter come the end of May when the NBA is down to its Final Four, and the other West semi-finalist needs to take out L.A. to march on.

Dallas Mavericks
Odds to win NBA Title: +7500
Odds to win Western Conference: +3000
Reasons they can win: Dallas is right in the thick of the pool of teams in the West clamoring for attention. Any team that wins 50 games or close to it should have a chance at playoff time, and if the Mavericks can finalize a favorable playoff road by getting out of the 8th seed, they'll have a chance to make some noise.
Reasons they can't: Dallas' window for championship success closed when Dwyane Wade went off in the 2006 NBA Finals. That was the best Mavericks team, the most united, and the most capable of bringing home the hardware. This team isn't the same one.

Denver Nuggets
Odds to win NBA Title: +3000
Odds to win Western Conference: +800
Reasons they can win: The move to get Chauncey Billups from Detroit for Allen Iverson has helped turned Denver into a legitimate contender with both talent and playoff savvy. The Nuggets' recent stretch of 13 wins in 14 games, while scoring 100+ points each time, demonstrated their ability to take it up a notch.
Reasons they can't: The Nuggets have been awful in the postseason under George Karl, and come into this year's playoffs on a skid of 2-16 SU & 3-15 ATS in their L18 games. It's awfully hard to just flip the switch of playoff success.

Houston Rockets
Odds to win NBA Title: +3000
Odds to win Western Conference: +1500
Reasons they can win: Houston was in position to lock up the #3 seed in the West as of presstime, meaning the Rockets would gain home court advantage in the first round. They are 32-8 at home. Also, like Orlando, they boast a dynamic mix of good outside shooting and the dominant big man in Yao Ming.
Reasons they can't: Houston hasn't made it out of the first round since '97, losing 22 of their last 34 playoff games. In addition, Denver and Portland are the only two other Western Conference playoff teams that the Rockets own a winning record over in the last three seasons.

Los Angeles Lakers
Odds to win NBA Title: +180
Odds to win Western Conference: -250
Reasons they can win: There are numerous reasons the Lakers can win the title, starting with their clear cut status as the West's #1 seed, as well as their success against Cleveland and Boston this season (4-0). Of course they also boast that MVP-caliber player capable of carrying his team in big games…what's his name again…oh yeah, Kobe Bryant.
Reasons they can't: There are two major concerns for the Lakers as they make a bid for their first title in six years. First, they will be working Center Andrew Bynum back into the lineup in postseason action. Disruptions in personnel can be magnified in the postseason. Second, the Lakers floundered in the Finals last year against Boston's half court defense, failing to even cover a pointspread in the six games.

New Orleans Hornets
Odds to win NBA Title: +3000
Odds to win Western Conference: +1500
Reasons they can win: If point guard play proves to be just as important in the NBA playoffs as it is in the NCAA Tournament, New Orleans is in as good of shape as anybody. The Hornets have also proven good but not great both on the road and at home, so stealing road wins is possible. That's a key to taking playoff series'.
Reasons they can't: The Hornets went into the 2008 playoffs with a lot more momentum than they are carrying now. That's why they were able to beat Dallas in round one and nearly upset San Antonio a bit later. Coming into the '09 postseason, New Orleans is just 7-7 down the stretch.

Portland Blazers
Odds to win NBA Title: +3000
Odds to win Western Conference: +1200
Reasons they can win: Youthful exuberance seems to be one of the biggest things going for Portland as it makes its first playoff appearance since '03. The Blazers have a talented roster that is gelling more and more with every game it plays together. They might be too naïve to realize they aren't supposed to win this early.
Reasons they can't: The Blazers youth and inexperience can also be looked at as a negative. Typically the NBA postseason is a learning experience where teams build in successive seasons before reaching the pinnacle. Not to mention, Portland was 4-17 SU & 7-14 ATS as a road underdog as of presstime, and stealing road games is the key to surviving playoff series'.

San Antonio Spurs
Odds to win NBA Title: +800
Odds to win Western Conference: +400
Reasons they can win: The Spurs are as good as anybody when it comes to making clutch plays in playoff basketball. Head coach Greg Poppovich seems to always be able to push the right buttons. San Antonio's past postseason success is a testament to that.
Reasons they can't: The season-ending injury to Manu Ginobli is a killer. The Spurs are somewhat limited offensively as it is, and when Ginobli went down, they lost one of their few players who has proven capable of coming up big in the postseason. In addition, San Antonio has won just five of its L15 games against the Lakers, and the West road to the finals figures to go through L.A.

Utah Jazz
Odds to win NBA Title: +2000
Odds to win Western Conference: +1000
Reasons they can win: Other teams may boast similar or even better records at home, but no team has a better theoretical home court advantage than the Jazz. They figure to finish the season at 34-7 at home. That makes it tough on visiting playoff clubs to steal the key win. Also, Utah was 32-16 vs. the Western Conference as of presstime, regularly beating the clubs that stand between them and playoff success.
Reasons they can't: Utah is another club that played streaky at times this season but played its better basketball earlier in the year. With a 6-13 ATS mark in March and April as of presstime, there is a big concern that the Jazz "used it up" in making their midseason surge.



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