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2019 NBA Playoffs: Odds to Win the Eastern and Western Conferences

Steph Curry drives to the basket.
Steph Curry and the Warriors are favored to return to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr) [CC License].
  • The Golden State Warriors will seek their fifth straight NBA Western Conference title
  • The last eight NBA Eastern Conference champions all suited up LeBron James
  • The 2009-10 Boston Celtics were the last to wear the Eastern crown without King James

Since the 2012-13 season, the NBA’s Western Conference has been a tale of two cities. The San Antonio Spurs won the conference title in 2012-13 and 2013-14, and the last four Western crowns went to the Golden State Warriors.

Since 2010, the NBA’s Eastern Conference has been about a solitary man – LeBron James. He led the Miami Heat to four successive titles from 2010-11 through 2013-14, and then carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to the last four conference titles.

James isn’t in the East any longer and his Los Angeles Lakers aren’t even in the playoffs. While the Eastern race looks to be wide open, sportsbooks are still strongly backing Golden State to get one for the thumb via a fifth straight Western Conference title.

2019 NBA Western Conference Odds

Team 2019 Western Conference Odds at Bovada 2019 Western Conference Odds at BetOnline
Golden State Warriors -375 -400
Houston Rockets +600 +600
Denver Nuggets +800 +1400
Oklahoma City Thunder +1700 +1400
Portland Trail Blazers +2200 +5000
Utah Jazz +2800 +2000
San Antonio Spurs +4000 +5000
Los Angeles Clippers +8000 +15000

*Odds taken on 04/11/19

Since 1998-99, the Spurs (six), Warriors (four) and Lakers (seven) have combined to win 17 NBA Western Conference titles.

They are the Warriors

Though they won the regular-season title and top playoff seeding in the Western Conference for the fourth time in five seasons, at 57-25 Golden State was just the NBA’s third-best team. Both Milwaukee (60) and Toronto (58) won more games than the Warriors.

This season, there appeared to be evidence of vulnerability in the back-to-back defending NBA champions. Golden State lost four in a row in November. There was a 2-4 skid in February.

Golden State lost four in a row in November and endured a 2-4 skid in February.

But during an eight-day span last month, the Warriors dropped Denver, Houston, and Oklahoma City, three of the other legitimate Western Conference contenders, winning two of those games on the road.

Overall, Golden State was 3-1 against the Nuggets and 2-1 against the Thunder. Only the Rockets (3-1) produced a winning slate head-to-head with the Warriors. Golden State is 5-1 in April.

Steph Curry (27.3), Kevin Durant (26.0), and Klay Thompson (21.5) all hit for over 20 points per game. Boogie Cousins (16.3 ppg) gets his first kick at the can.

The Best of the West

A year ago, Houston looked poised to knock Golden State off the precipice. The Rockets were a win away from the Western Conference title and couldn’t get no. 4 to fall their way. And it seems like they’ve been out of sync ever since.

Guard James Harden is enjoying a season for the ages, leading the NBA in 10 offensive categories, including 36.1 points per game. But he also committed an NBA-high 387 turnovers, and that paradox kind of sums up the way the season has gone for Houston.

Both the Rockets and the Utah Jazz landed on the same side of the playoff bracket as Golden State. The Jazz are a top-five scoring defense and held Houston to 99 points per 100 possessions, the worst performance by the Rockets against any Western Conference team. But ESPN’s BPI playoff index gives the Jazz just a 4.4 percent chance of winning the NBA title.

The Denver Nuggets grabbed the no. 2 seed in the West. They have two stars in center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, but are lacking the experience required to make a deep playoff run. Yes, they have Russell Westbrook, but Oklahoma City’s inconsistencies will be the Thunder’s undoing.

It’s hard to see any team unseating the Warriors this spring.

Pick: Golden State Warriors (-375)

2019 NBA Eastern Conference Odds

Team 2019 Eastern Conference Odds at Bovada 2019 Eastern Conference Odds at BetOnline
Milwaukee Bucks +150 +150
Toronto Raptors +220 +225
Philadelphia 76ers +350 +400
Boston Celtics +390 +500
Indiana Pacers +3300 +2500
Orlando Magic +5500 +3300
Brooklyn Nets +6000 +2500
Detroit Pistons +8000 +6600

Bucking a Trend

It’s been so long since the Milwaukee Bucks won a conference title that it was actually a Western Conference championship back in 1974. The Bucks have never won since moving to the Eastern Conference but they are poised to change all that this season.

Led by the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who can play almost anywhere on the floor, the Bucks won an NBA-leading 60 games.

Beast of the East

Will Kawhi Leonard enable the Toronto Raptors to lose their bad rap as a team that can’t win in the postseason? The Raptors again dominated the regular season, winning 58 games, but it won’t matter if they can’t make their first conference final appearance since  2015-16.

The Philadelphia 76ers went all-in at the trade deadline, adding Tobias Harris to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler. But the Sixers went just 2-4 in their last six with this star-studded lineup.  Like Houston in the West, the Boston Celtics have regressed as a team this season.

Milwaukee captured an NBA-leading 45 games by double-digit margins. Every team to do that in NBA history has won the title. No one will buck the Bucks in the East.

Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (+150)

NBA Playoff Bracket

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