The season is coming to a close with less than 20 games remaining. The battle for seeding in each conference is tight, especially in the Eastern Conference, but I do not really see too many changes to the current situation. Injuries to key players Durant and Love, and more recently Bogut to a lesser extent have made the top teams in each conference vulnerable. While I think the Cavaliers are still the team to beat this season, I see an entirely different scenario playing out.
In the Eastern Conference the current seeds are as follows.
I actually believe this is exactly how the top seven will finish with only Chicago giving way to the surging Miami Heat for the 8th seed. Milwaukee is also playing better and is just on the outside looking in, but I think overall Miami has more talent to take the last spot. The first round of the playoffs will be quite boring and the top four seeds should easily advance with no team losing more than one game. The battle will begin in round two where I see Cleveland taking down Toronto 4-2 and Washington outlasting Boston in seven. This gives us an Eastern Conference Finals of Cleveland versus Washington and where it gets crazy. I see Washington winning his series in six game to advance to the finals.
Washington is loaded with Wall, Morris, Porter, and Beal being the core. They have a great 1-2 punch at Center with Gortat and Mahinmi and the additions of Jennings and Bogdanovic give them even more scoring. They are 0-2 against the Cavaliers this season, but the last game was an OT thriller 140-135. Cleveland is vulnerable and I think they will get worn down in this series.
In the Western Conference the current seeds are as follows.
Again, like the Eastern Conference I see the top seven seeds remaining the same with Denver being overtaken by Minnesota for the last spot. They are 6-4 in their last 10 and I just think their talent will overcome the Nuggets in the end as Towns and Rubio continue to improve. I see the top four seeds again advancing with Utah having to go the distance to take down the Clippers. Memphis should get a game or two, but the other two series’ should end in sweeps.
I think GSW will take down Utah 4-1 in round two and San Antonio should breeze past Houston in five or six games depending on how dominate Harden is. This leaves us with GSW against San Antonio is the Western Conference Finals.
I think it will take Durant time to get back and he will probably never be 100% again this season. Curry and Thompson are not shooting as well as the past two seasons and Draymond Green has been and up and down mystery especially with scoring. I think Leonard takes over this series and defeats the defending Western Conference Champions in six games.
The finals will not be quite as exciting as the Spurs will win in five games. Many games will be close, but the Spurs are such a complete team led by Leonard and Aldridge. They are deep with big men Gasol, Dedmon, and Lee, and their backcourt of Mills and Parker are steady. Ginobilli is a great wild card that can steal a game and their role players of Green, Simmons, Murray, and Anderson can all have a big nights to fill in those 4th and 5th scoring spots when needed. While this isn’t exactly the matchup the NBA wants, I think these are the best two teams in their conferences and should put a quality product on the court. Popovich also moves one step closer to being considered the best of all-time.
For betting purposes, the odds on GSW and Cleveland are ridiculous at 1-2 and 9/5 respectively. There is no value there. San Antonio is at 8/1 which is a nice value play to me and Washington is 50/1 which is always worth a few shillings, as any key injury could change the tide of a series completely. Houston is 15/1, Boston is 30/1, Los Angeles is 50/1, Toronto is 65/1, and Utah is 100/1. Only Boston and Utah have value enough at those prices to warrant a small wager.