The 2019-20 NBA season continues on Thursday, July 30, in Orlando, while the list of players who are opting out of the season return is getting bigger. Each of the 22 teams that will return to the floor will play eight games to determine the seeders before a possible play-in series.
So, what’s the play-in series? In case that No. 9 seed finishes within four games of the No. 8 seed, those two teams will enter the play-in series where No. 8 seed needs one win in two games to eliminate No. 9 seed that needs to beat the eighth seed twice in a row.
Once the playoffs start, everything will go back to normal. However, considering the psychological factor and a long break, nothing is going to be normal about the 2020 NBA postseason. The future odds are available on all top NBA betting sites, so I want to take a closer look at the 2020 NBA Playoffs contenders to see who will play in the NBA Finals.
Eastern Conference Winner Odds
|Miami Heat||+900||Indiana Pacers||+2800|
The Milwaukee Bucks are runaway favorites to win the Eastern Conference Finals, and with the odds at -170, there’s no real value here. Of course, the Bucks are a very strong team led by one of the most dominant players on earth, Giannis Antetokounmpo. They’ve cruised until the Coronavirus outbreak, but after a huge pause, I’m not sure they’ll be the same team.
Furthermore, the Raptors, Celtics, Heat, and 76ers are all good teams with a solid chance to upset the Bucks in the best-of-seven series. Don’t get me wrong, as I would go with the Bucks if I have to, but the odds are not tempting at all, so I’m going to pass.
On the other hand, the Eastern Conference offers some underdogs that seem like interesting bets at a smaller stake. The Raptors are a well-balanced, tough defensive team, and it’s always hard to write off the reigning champs. Still, they lost both meetings with the Bucks this season.
The Boston Celtics, on the other side, managed to beat the Bucks in one of their two encounters. They have a few exceptional players in Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, and Jaylen Brown, so the Celtics certainly stand a chance in the best-of-7 series against Milwaukee.
The Philadelphia 76ers possess one of the strongest starting lineups in the Association, but their bench is a big issue. The Sixers have been very inconsistent thus far and are only 10-24 away from home. They’ve won one of their three matchups with the Bucks, but I don’t believe the Sixers can go all the way in the east simply because of their lack of depth.
On the other hand, the Miami Heat have a very deep roster and will be a dangerous opponent in the postseason. Eric Spoelstra has a lot of playoff experience and is one of the best tacticians in the league. I’m pretty sure the Heat can play a much better D than the numbers from the regular season shows, and Miami’s defensive rating was the 11th-best in the NBA.
Interestingly, the Heat are undefeated in two games against the Bucks this season. They will meet once more on August 6.
The Indiana Pacers will be without Victor Oladipo, so it’s no strange they are listed as +2800 dogs to win the Eastern Conference. The Brooklyn Nets will miss Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan, while the Magic and Wizards are not good enough to beat the best teams in seven games.
I’m not going to bet on Milwaukee even though the Bucks are top favorites for a reason. Also, I don’t think the Raptors are capable of reaching the back-to-back finals without Kawhi, so I’m thinking about the Celtics and Heat.
Both these teams are led by terrific coaches and have enough firepower on both sides of the ball to challenge the Bucks. The odds are attractive, so I’m going to bet on both of them.
- My Picks: Boston Celtics at +650; Miami Heat at +900
Western Conference Winner Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||+140|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+180|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+3000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+4000|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+6000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+8000|
The Western Conference will see a super-exciting battle for the playoff spots and seeders. When it comes to the place in the NBA Finals, I think only two teams will be relevant, and both come from the same town.
The Houston Rockets’ small-ball lineup can do a lot of damage. Both James Harden and Russell Westbrook are lethal on the offensive end, but I’m not sure how the Rockets will cope defensively with some big men in the west.
Also, the Lakers and Clippers are smart teams with plenty of offensive weapons. In the best-of-seven series, I don’t see how the Rockets will prevail either rival from LA. I’m well aware of Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker’s defensive abilities, but healthy Anthony Davis would eat them alive.
The Lakers will miss Avery Bradley, but they still have enough depth to compete with any other team in the league. The Clippers should come in full strength, and I consider them as a team with the greatest depth in the Western Conference which could be crucial in the postseason.
After a long break, most of the players will need some time to build up their form. The Clippers can count on electric duo Kawhi Leonard – Paul George, while Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell make a great force off the bench.
Furthermore, the Lakers and Clippers are the best defensive teams in the west. The Lakers’ defensive rating of 105.6 points per 100 possessions is third in the NBA, while the Clippers are fifth in the league, surrendering 107.2 points per 100 possessions.
You know what they say – offense wins you games, defense wins you titles.
When it comes to dark horses in the Western Conference, I have to mention the Dallas Mavericks at +1700 odds. Rick Carlisle has been coaching the Mavs since 2008, winning the championship back in 2011, and he certainly knows how to get the most from his boys in the postseason.
Luka Doncic has been spectacular in the first part of the 2019-20 season, averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game. The 21-year-old sophomore looks completely unstoppable, while the Mavs’ offensive rating of 116.7 points per 100 possessions was the best in the NBA by far.
The Mavericks have been surrendering 110.6 points in a return, so they have to improve defensively in order to mount a serious championship challenge. Still, their net rating of +6.1 is the fifth-best in the NBA.
As well as the Mavericks, the Denver Nuggets have had some serious defensive issues. They are a young and very talented team that loves to share the ball and play team basketball. However, the Nuggets are limited defensively, so I don’t see them beating three tough teams in a row.
All other teams in the west will have a mountain to climb including the Utah Jazz. While the Jazz certainly have a solid defensive potential, they’ve been struggling to perform for most of the season, relying on their improved and prolific offense.
As I’ve mentioned above, I expect to see the Lakers versus Clippers in the Western Conference Finals. That would be a pure spectacle, potentially in seven games. If both Lakers and Clippers stay healthy, I think the Clippers have better chances to win the series. They can put huge pressure on LeBron for all 48 minutes, and the Clippers’ interior defense is good enough to slow down Anthony Davis.
- My Pick: Los Angeles Clippers at +180