Before we get started, let’s have a moment of honesty: The Golden State Warriors will win a third straight NBA championship. I mean, seriously, how can you bet against a team with five All-Stars?
With that being said, however, we do have some interesting storylines to pay attention to throughout the playoffs. For example, the battle in the Eastern Conference is what intrigues me the most. It’s such an open field, mainly between the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Boston Celtics. Which one of those four will reign supreme?
I’ve been pondering that for months now.
Also, going back to Golden State for a second, they did nearly lose to the Houston Rockets in the playoffs last season before ultimately taking them out in seven games. I’m curious to see if the trio of James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela can repeat that feat, and possibly even beat them. I’m betting no, but you never know.
Another thing I’m interested to see what happens is how far the Denver Nuggets can go in the playoffs. An amazing season has had them right on the tail of the Warriors all throughout the 2018-19 campaign, and they’re currently placed second in the Western Conference. How far, really, can this team go in the postseason?
I’m excited to find out and win some money betting on the NBA Playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors are currently 57-24 and on top of the Western Conference standings, and like previously mentioned, are led by five superstars in Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins.
Sticking with the numbers, when you break down the record even more, they’ve done an incredible job in the West sitting with a conference record of 35-16. Not bad considering the Western Conference has a total of five teams in the West with at least 50 wins. At Oracle Arena this season, they’ve compiled a record of 30-11, and are a solid 27-13 on the road. At the moment, they’ve won eight out of their last 10, and are riding on a six game winning streak with just one regular season game remaining.
On the statistical side, it’s been a landslide for the most part in favor of Golden State, except when you look at the defensive side.
In offensive production, the Warriors average a blazing 117.7 points-per-game to have them ranked 2nd in the league. In ball movement, they lead the league with nearly a 30 mark hitting the 29.4 assists-per-game average. On the rebounding end, GS’s average is 3.7 away from an elite 50 average at 46.3 rebounds-per-game — that ranks 9th in the NBA to have them in the Top 10. Things get a bit questionable for Golden State, however, on defense. They average out at about 111.0 points allowed, which sits them in the middle of the pack ranking them 15th in the league.
But then again, this is the Golden State Warriors that we’re talking about, numbers aren’t really needed here — let’s be straight up. They’re pretty much guaranteed to win their third straight championship, which explains the heavyweight odds.
Sitting with the best record in not just the Eastern Conference, but the National Basketball Association at 60-21, the Milwaukee Bucks come into the playoffs loaded with firepower. The numbers from Giannis Antetokounmpo alone (27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 30.99 PER) will carry the Bucks far into the postseason, but you also have to consider Milwaukee’s other talent and depth in Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic that surrounds Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks have been incredible this season, and it shows with their overall record, but when you break it down… For example: In the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee has dominated their way through the competition with a record of 40-12. And at home in the Fiserv Forum, the Bucks are nearly unbeatable with a 33-7 record. On the road, they’re a bit iffy, but it’s still excellent with a 27-14 record. They’ve won seven out of their last 10 entering the NBA Playoffs.
Milwaukee has been such a statistical success story this season, averaging out in the Top 10 in each of the four mainline categories (points-per-game, rebounds-per-game, assists-per-game and points allowed).
In the scoring department, they rank at the top of the league with a steaming average of 118.1 PPG. They’re not quite as elite in the assist market, but it’s still a pretty solid number at 26.0 APG — that ranks 7th in the NBA. On the glass, he tallies just -0,3 away from the elite 50-mark at 49.7 RPG for another 1st place ranking. The Bucks’ defense is solid too, placing themselves in the Top 10 at 10th with a points-allowed average of 109.0 PPG.
The way the standings sit now, the Toronto Raptors are 2.5 games behind Milwaukee in the second spot in the East. The next closest to the Bucks? The 50-31 Philadelphia 76ers who place 10.0 games behind Milwaukee. They’re not the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference, but you definitely have to put them as the favorite to win the conference championship. As far as beating Golden State? Some talent needs to be added, and some work needs to be done, before that realistically can happen being 970 points behind the Warriors in the odds.
Right on the tail of the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference are the 58-24 Toronto Raptors, their 2.5 game placement behind the Bucks has them as the third favorite to win the NBA title with +1000 odds. But the goal for the Raptors this season, especially with the Kawhi Leonard acquisition last summer, is to just get to the NBA Finals. With Leonard, Pascal Siakim, Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, Fred VanVleet and Danny Green at the helm for the Raptors, the talent is certainly there to achieve that feat — hot damn, general manager Bobby Webster’s risk may pay off.
The Raptors have been splendid against Eastern Conference competition all season long, compiling a 36-16 record against the East, and it gets even better when you look at their home record: Like Milwaukee, Toronto, too, has accomplished staying under the 10 loss mark while at Scotiabank Arena — they sit with a 32-9 home record. With their away record, it’s quite similar to the Bucks, they’re just a couple of games behind at 26-15. Iffy, but it’s better compared to the rest of the Eastern Conference. They’ve won seven out of their last 10 entering the final phase of the regular season.
On the statistical side, the Toronto Raptors have been pretty effective in both points-per-game and on defense, but the assist and rebounding game is lacking a bit entering postseason play. In offensive production, the Raptors have been red-hot with a steamy average of 114.4 PPG, which places 6th in the entire NBA. On the defensive side, their other productive category, they rank 9th in the league with an average of 108.4 PA. Then the numbers take a bit of a hit. Starting with the assists-per-game statistic, the Raps place 13th in the NBA with an average of 25.4 APG. On the glass, Toronto is a little below the middle of the pack with a rebounding tally of 45.2 RPG, that ranks 17th in the league.
Along with the Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors have a very realistic chance of positioning themselves into the NBA Finals when everything is said and done.
For the Raptors, a potential upset by the Sixers could happen in the postseason, but the biggest hurdle for Toronto is obviously Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks. Imagine that battle between him and Kawhi Leonard though. Lord have mercy.
Coming into the postseason as Southwest Division Champions and ranked third in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets are currently sitting with a record of 53-29, four games behind the leader Golden State Warriors — a team they lost to in seven games last season in the Western Conference Finals. With the elite trio of James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela, and the depth surrounding them, it’ll be interesting to see if they can repeat that feat — or maybe even upset the defending champions.
The Rockets have been elite at home, consistent in the West and are a bit worrisome on the road in action this season. Starting out against Western Conference competition, Houston has been a solid 32-20 — not bad, especially considering the skill of the West. At Toyota Center, the Rockets have been knocking out opposition left and right with compiling a dominant 31-10 record.
But here’s what concerns me for Houston going into the playoffs: They’re struggling road record nearly at .500 at 22-19. However, the Rockets are getting hot at the right time, winning eight out of their last 10.
The statistics are a little tainted, because even though none of the categories fall into the Top 10, you have to defend Houston a little bit due to their health this season — it’s only a portion of the season that they’ve had Harden, Paul and Capela altogether and healthy. If those three were together the majority of the season, all of the statistical categories would most likely fall into the Top 10. Starting in the scoring department, they sit 11th in the NBA with an average of 113.9 PPG — not bad, considering. In ball movement, it’s very lackluster, but remember, Chris Paul was out due to injury for a good length of time averaging near dead-last in the league at No. 28 with 21.2 APG. On the glass, it’s also a sticky situation, but again, Clint Capela and his situation needs to be considered — they have another No. 28 ranking averaging out at 42.1 RPG. On the defensive side, there’s certainly room for improvement, but it isn’t too bad — they rank 11th in the NBA with a 109.1 PA average.
The Houston Rockets have had some struggles this season, but they’ve gotten healthy and have became elite again — that’s why they’ve positioned themselves into the No. 3 spot in the West. It’ll be interesting to see if we’ll have another Rockets-Warriors series in the Western Conference Finals, and if we do, don’t be surprised to see Houston take Golden State to the brink of an upset — again. The Rockets will be a fun team to watch in the NBA Playoffs.
Coming into the Eastern Conference Playoffs as another success story, the Philadelphia 76ers have been brilliant with a 51-31 record to have them at 3rd in the conference. However, they have some work to do if they hope to get out of the East, they’re currently 9.0 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks. But the potential is certainly there to get into the NBA Finals, and are my biggest sleeper team in the East — if you can even call them that. Though they sit in the No. 3 position in the conference, they have the best core of talent in my opinion with Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, Ben Simmons, Greg Monroe, among others. This team is going to be hard to beat in any series.
A few things concern me with the Sixers, however:
Statistically, the Sixers have been on point this season, until you get to the defensive side of things that is. In points-per-game, rebounds-per-game, and assists-per-game, they rank in the Top 5 in all three. On the scoring end, they rank No. 4 overall in the NBA with a potent offense of 115.1 PPG. In ball movement, it’s another 4th ranking, sitting with an average of 26.9 APG. On the rebounding end, it’s a power 47.8 RPG — just 2.2 away from the 50 threshold to have the Sixers ranked 4th in the league. But here’s the trouble number: The 112.5 PA average that has them ranked 18th in the NBA. If the Sixers want to get out of the East, they’ll have to clean that up drastically. Being in the lower half of the pack isn’t championship basketball, and that’s Philadelphia’s kryptonite.
Like I previously mentioned, I personally think Philadelphia is the deepest team in the Eastern Conference, but there’s obviously some work that needs to be done — particularly on the defensive side. If they can pick up the pace on defense, the 76ers might very well be on their way to the NBA Finals. Milwaukee and Toronto will be their biggest hurdles.