Updated 2013 NBA Title Odds for Every Playoff Team, Round 1 Edition
OK, maybe it's not a compelling observation, but the odds are the two teams everyone expects to be there at the end will be there.
The concept of a finals rematch between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder isn't based off long hours of research and prognostication—these are the two most talented teams. And both have already proven able to reach the grandest of stages.
But, of course, it's not always so easy.
The Heat and Thunder, as talented as they are, can be tripped up by teams surging in the background.
The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers look capable, as do the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs.
Some of the lower-seeded teams remain with a smaller percentage chance, but a Cinderella run to the NBA Finals is fathomable.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (No Chance)
You can just see Monta Ellis addressing his Milwaukee Bucks teammates prior to their series against the defending champs:
"The Miami Heat don't have what Monta has. Monta has it all. Monta neeeeds it all.
Dwyane Wade? I'm the same player he is.
LeBron James? What's he ever done that Monta hasn't? I led that Golden State Warriors team in '07 against the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks. It was easy. I barely had to do a thing.
You have to lose two to win in six games, right Brandon?"
Well, the imaginary Ellis dialogue probably never happened, but it might not be too far from the truth.
The Bucks won't play Cinderella in the first round; the Heat reveal the postseason's biggest mismatch through each game.
In Game 1, Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined for 48 points on 18-of-39 shooting. Miami decided to shut that down, adjusting in Game 2 and swarming the Bucks backcourt. In that game, the duo scored 15 points on a combined 5-of-22 shooting.
The Heat turn it on whenever they want against the Bucks.
Sorry, Ellis. Hopefully you fare better with your next team.
15. Los Angeles Lakers (0.5 Percent)
The Los Angeles Lakers simply don't have the talent, as strange as that sounds.
Other than the obvious injury to Kobe Bryant, the Lakers are also dealing with a string of unhealthy contributors. That list includes Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks and now Steve Blake.
Nash has not had sustained health all season, and his right hamstring was tweaked again in Game 2.
Steve Nash on hamstring: "Unfortunately, I tweaked it in the first half. I tried to keep going. It got worse as the game went on."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 25, 2013
World Peace returned 12 days after knee surgery, so he is obviously not at full health. Jamison is playing with a sprained wrist. Additionally, Pau Gasol (plantar fascia tear) and Dwight Howard (torn labrum/back) dealt with injuries throughout the season.
Meeks is dealing with a sprained ankle and Blake, with an increased role because of Nash's hamstring issues, is now having hamstring problems of his own.
Lakers guard Steve Blake (hamstring) to have ultrasound Thursday and status for Game 3 versus Spurs is TBD.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 25, 2013
The Lakers limped into the playoffs, and now down 3-0 it looks like they may be swept fully off their feet.
14. Atlanta Hawks (0.5 Percent)
Atlanta Hawks fans must be tiring of this annual letdown. At least it may be the last of the postseason fails with Al Horford and upcoming free agent Josh Smith.
Already down 2-0 to the Indiana Pacers, this could mark the sixth consecutive season that the Hawks fall in either the first or second round of the playoffs.
The Hawks are shooting well in the first two games, averaging 49.7 percent from the field. But they have also turned the ball over 30 times.
Josh Smith and Al Horford need more shots. Thorough the two losses, Smith has scored 15.5 points on 56 percent shooting (7-of-12.5) and Horford is shooting 52.2 percent (6-of-11.5) for 13.5 points.
It hasn't been enough. A team that prides itself in its physical play has flopped on the road. The defense just hasn't shown up.
In 83 games (playoffs and regular season), Pacers broke 100 28 times, five times against Hawks. #ATLHawks— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) April 25, 2013
Paul George is averaging 25 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. The team also can't slow Pacers point guard George Hill, who is scoring 20 points per game on 63.6 percent shooting.
The Hawks are being outworked on the boards, an average of 47.5 to 36.5. The Pacers are winless in their last 11 games in Atlanta, so home court seems to be Atlanta's last hope for turning around the series.
13. Boston Celtics (0.5 Percent)
The Boston Celtics' chances of a title are tightening, as is the window of opportunity in the careers of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
The crack is now microscopic.
The hopes returned to TD Garden and Boston, where it was emotional. But the Celtics needed a Game 3 win and they fell flat, 90-76. They had to win both games at home if they had a desire to make this into a series.
From the start of the series, Boston needed to start playing two halves.
In Games 1 and 2, the Celtics were outscored a combined 81-48 in the second half. You can't win in the postseason with that type of late-game performance, especially when going up against a superstar in Carmelo Anthony.
They outscored the Knicks 45-43 in the second half on Friday, but that wasn't enough to overcome their 24 first-half points.
Now, it's really back-against-the-wall time.
12. Houston Rockets (1.5 Percent)
The James Harden show isn't enough to carry the Houston Rockets past the most talented team in the Western Conference, which yes, also happens to be his former team.
But suddenly with the loss of Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, well hey, maybe there is a chance.
The Rockets pushed the Thunder to a close Game 2 and now they return home.
The Rockets are too young and inconsistent to perform steadily at the high level of quality it takes to advance through the postseason. They are plenty capable of getting hot in spurts, a credit to their offensive gifts. But that won't matter this season.
The Rockets are young and talented, but the Oklahoma City environment is too much for Houston. Expect the potential of the Rockets to play up at home for at least one postseason win.
Ultimately though, the No. 8 seed will bow out in the first round.
11. Brooklyn Nets (1 Percent)
The Brooklyn Nets will go as far as Deron Williams takes them.
Williams was tremendous down the stretch for Brooklyn in the regular season, and he came out strong in Game 1 against the Chicago Bulls. But in Game 2, he didn't look so sharp.
Williams' line in Game 1, a Brooklyn win: 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting and a plus/minus of plus-24.
His line in the Nets' Game 2 loss: eight points on 1-of-9 shooting and a minus-11.
Williams settled more in the middle in Game 3, scoring 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but the Nets lost again.
The health of Joe Johnson, who like Noah is also dealing with plantar fasciitis, is another big question mark. If you didn't know how to spell plantar fasciitis heading into this NBA season, you certainly do now. It's apparently running rampant.
And, as the general fan is learning, it's incredibly painful. Even if Johnson plays, he will be slowed down.
With little depth on the Nets, the franchise relies heavily on its superstar scoring base to get the job done.
It looks like Williams and the Nets might not have enough to even bypass the injured Bulls.
10. Chicago Bulls (2 Percent)
Joakim Noah can't do it all, as much as he wants to.
The Bulls' passionate center is playing on a hobbled foot, dealing with plantar fasciitis. How long can he continue to play this badly hurt?
It's sometimes hard to tell underneath the consistently grimaced grin of Noah, but Noah is in pain. Said Noah after Wednesday afternoon practice, via Aggrey Sam and CSN Chicago:
It really sucks. Plantar fasciitis sucks. It feels like you have needles underneath your foot while you’re playing. That’s what it feels like, so you can imagine. You need to jump, you need to run, you need to do a lot of things while you’re playing basketball, so you don’t want needles underneath your foot, right?
@wallyball Derrick Rose is the careful Bull. Joakim Noah maybe not so much.
— Steve Aschburner (@AschNBA) April 25, 2013
9. Denver Nuggets (2 Percent)
That wasn't supposed to happen. If the Denver Nuggets could count on anything this postseason, it was victories at home. The Nuggets were 38-3 at the Pepsi Center this season, the best home record in the NBA.
They had won 24 consecutive home games before the Golden State Warriors went on a scoring spree to beat the Nuggets, 131-117, in Game 2.
Denver then followed that effort with a Game 3 road loss at Oracle Arena on Friday.
Suddenly, the Nuggets don't look like the hot contenders they once were.
The Warriors, behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, are a dangerous shooting team. But the Nuggets are suffering far too many defensive lapses and appear too weak in that area to contend.
Denver still has what it takes to win come back and win the opening-round series. The Nuggets went on a tremendous run into the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference. After beginning the season 11-12 into December, the Nuggets won 46 of their final 59 games.
But the health of Ty Lawson (plantar fascia) and the season-ending injury to Dano Gallinari created question marks in their postseason hopes.
The Nuggets' style of transition offense and interior scoring wasn't enough to overcome their poor defense in Game 2. But Andre Iguodala has looked sensational, and the Nuggets remain plenty deep with guys like Andre Miller and Corey Brewer.
George Karl says #Nuggets must stay mentally tough. "The process is not easy and it will get harder."— Denver Nuggets (@denvernuggets) April 25, 2013
If Denver can steal back home-court advantage with a win in 4 at Golden State, the Nuggets are still a threat in the West.
8. Golden State Warriors (2 Percent)
Stephen Curry has been unreal.
But will reality settle back in for the Golden State Warriors? They can't continue to shoot 64.6 percent, as they did in Game 2, right?
The hot hand of Curry tallied 30 points, and Klay Thompson chipped in for 5-of-6 three-point shooting and 21 points. When those two get going, the Warriors are tough to beat.
Following the injury of David Lee in Game 1, the Warriors' odds took a major blow. But the Game 2 emergence of the "Black Falcon," Harrison Barnes, could make up for the loss of Lee.
After scoring just eight points in Game 1, Barnes went for 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting in a small-lineup start at power forward.
The momentum has swung to the Warriors.
Oracle is going to become completely unhinged on Friday for its first playoff game since 2007. Golden State is in the postseason for just the second time in 19 seasons, so the fans are obviously eager.
Ultimately though, the Warriors' odds of a title are still incredibly low. Of course, when shooting above 60 percent, anything is possible.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (2 Percent)
The Memphis Grizzlies spent most of this season sticking out their chests with a what-about-us glare.
But then against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, they immediately dropped the first two on the road.
The Grizzlies recovered with a game 3 win after facing extremely difficult stakes, as described by Matt Moore of CBS Sports:
Game 3 is huge for this Grizzlies team to get confidence it can beat Chris Paul, that it can outwork the Clippers who have beaten them at their own game, that they are still the dangerous team they looked like a month ago. But it's even bigger for the long-term prospects of the team. The Grizzlies were a punchline for a decade in Memphis. They've finally become respectable.
A Game 3 loss could prompt the front office to try to fix something that the fans don't think is broken, and the results could be dramatic.
Wow. Turns out that Game 3 win against the Clippers was a big one. Holding ground with another victory in Game 4 will become equally as telling.
The Grizzlies still have enough to compete for a title. The inside presence of Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, teamed with the veteran toughness and talents of Zach Randolph, puts the Grizzlies in contention.
6. Indiana Pacers (3 Percent)
Wait a second, the Indiana Pacers look like the other East team in the conversation of, "wellll...they could beat the Miami Heat."
While the Knicks seem to get credit as the likeliest to meet the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, don't count out the Pacers.
Indiana is bulldozing its way through Atlanta. The Pacers are outworking the Hawks, and they appear to be the most physical team in the East.
Paul George, the Most Improved Player, has hit superstar gear. He is scoring 25 points through the first two games this postseason, adding 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
Paul George, showing how improved he is.— Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople) April 25, 2013
Roy Hibbert, David West and George Hill know and do their jobs. Role players like Gerald Green, Lance Stephenson and Tyler Hansbrough are all playing well too.
There's an intensity to the Pacers this postseason that could lead them to a not-so-big upset in the likely second-round series against the Knicks. If that intensity continues, they might also have a slight chance of giving Miami a run.
5. New York Knicks (4 Percent)
This was the call for Carmelo Anthony when he was traded to the New York Knicks in 2011—to be the man and lead the biggest of big-city teams like The Man.
Anthony is coming off his first scoring title at 28.7 points per game thanks to a 36.9 average through his eight games in April.
And in the Knicks' two recent wins over Boston, Anthony averaged 35 points on 45.3 percent shooting in Games 1 and 2. He scored another 26 points in Game 3.
He's taking care of the offense himself, as noted in this Game 2 stat:
Carmelo Anthony: 26 first-half touches of the basketball. He passed the ball on only 3 of those.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 20, 2013
But he's not passing the ball, and for good reason—there's not really anyone to pass it to.
J.R. Smith is scoring in bunches at 17 points per game so far, and Raymond Felton is contributing with a 14.5-point average through the first two games.
But after that, who is there, Kenyon Martin? What's fine for now against an inept Boston offense won't be enough in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
That is, of course, if the Knicks can knock off Indiana Pacers in the second round.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (5 Percent)
Ready to fall in love all over again?
The Lob City highlights of the Los Angeles Clippers are pouring into the postseason, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are proving that wins and spectacular dunks can co-exist.
Paul turned into a Michael Jordan-Magic Johnson hybrid in a Game 2 performance that included a last-second, game-winning shot.
Chris Paul's buzzer-beater in Game 2 shot in super slow motion through the lens of the NBA's Phantom Camera. youtube.com/watch?feature=…— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 23, 2013
Paul's opportunity to stretch out the playoffs is finally here. The Clippers have great depth and veteran talent between Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups and Matt Barnes to win when it counts.
Don't get lost in the acrobatics—this Clippers team has the potential to reach the NBA Finals.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (6 Percent)
No. 2 in the odds?
Kevin Durant is so over that second stuff. But his ability to unseat LeBron James and the Miami Heat will first depend on whether or not the Thunder can move through a tough Western Conference.
But now Russell Westbrook is lost. And with it might be the chances for the Thunder to create a rematch with the Heat.
For now, the only focus on No. 2 should be the two-seeded San Antonio Spurs, or the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, whom the Thunder will likely see in the second round.
The Thunder are tough at home, and they'll have that advantage against virtually the entire field:
Thunder have now won 11 of last 12 home playoff games; only loss in that span was to Heat in last year's NBA Finals.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 25, 2013
Durant and Westbrook were the best one-two combination in the league. Stop one, and the other gets loose. But now there will be plenty of ways to change defensive schemes on Durant.
The attention needs to move to the toughness (and dirty play) of Kendrick Perkins and the best shot-blocker in the league in Serge Ibaka. OKC may no longer have the most talent in the Western Conference, but it's still high. They remain in a good position to win the conference, but the odds are now much more stacked against them.
It will create a nice rematch, but the Thunder's odds of tackling the Heat are still very much stacked against them.
2. San Antonio Spurs (10 Percent)
Fair warning to the rest of the league: The San Antonio Spurs are healthy.
And the Oklahoma City Thunder no longer are.
The loss of Westbrook makes the Spurs the favorite to win the West.
The crew is back again, led by the resurgence of Tim Duncan. Duncan had a phenomenal regular season at 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.65 blocks per game.
The two-time Most Valuable Player is back. In the first two wins of the postseason, against the Los Angeles Lakers, Duncan averaged 16.5 points and grabbed 7.5 rebounds. He added 26 points and nine rebounds in Game 3.
Not bad for 37 years old.
Happy 37th birthday to The Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan! Four NBA championship banners and counting... twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 25, 2013
But the question entering the playoffs surrounded the health issues of Parker and Ginobili. So far, it doesn't seem to be a problem.
Tony Parker looked full strength while dropping 28p, 7a, & 4r on 9/20 FG (9/10 FT) without committing a turnover in a W! #StatLineOfTheNight— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) April 25, 2013
Manu Ginobili has scored 31 points in 38 minutes in this series. In both games, Lakers were outscored by 19 points in Ginobili's 19 minutes.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 25, 2013
San Antonio is making quick work of the Lakers, and Golden State could be next.
1. Miami Heat (60 Percent)
LeBron James will not relinquish his No. 1 spot.
The injury of Russell Westbrook doesn't just send ripples through the West, it also changes what type of talent the Heat will see in the Finals.
Wow. No Russell Westbrook. Suddenly the possibility of Heat-Thunder II is looking a lot less likely. Spurs? Clippers? What's left?— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) April 26, 2013
Though a rematch with the Thunder looked inevitable, a likely Finals matchup now is one against the San Antonio Spurs. That could actually be more difficult for Miami.
Still, it's going to take something spectacular to unseat Miami. The defending champions are the clear favorites again in 2012-13, with even more talent than last season.
But it's not just added help. LeBron James is better than he's ever been, and the Big Three is playing together better than ever.
James will likely win his fourth Most Valuable Player award this season, and the team's 27-game win streak is an obvious sign they will be near-impossible to take down in a seven-game series.
They've made the Milwaukee Bucks look like a No. 16 seed.
The motivation remains for Miami to keep pushing.
This wasn't a team built to win a single championship; the Heat want to, and have the ability to, win for many years in a row.
It won't happen automatically, but it will take something incredible to unseat the Heat.