The 2014 NBA playoffs have been nothing short of exciting, and the best news is that we aren't even out of the first round yet.
It seems as if we've seen everything through the opening portion of the playoffs. We've seen countless overtime games, buzzer-beaters and controversial calls through each of the eight playoff series.
Two series have already concluded. The Miami Heat dismantled the Charlotte Bobcats in four games, while the Washington Wizards surprisingly upset the Chicago Bulls in five games. The Wizards now look like a team that can compete with Miami in the Eastern Conference, especially given the shortcomings of the Indiana Pacers.
Odds are the landscape of the NBA playoffs will continue to change within the coming weeks leading up to the NBA Finals, but here's where each team's Finals odds stand right now.
Updated NBA Finals Odds
|San Antonio Spurs||5/2|
|Los Angeles Clippers||5/1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||10/1|
|Golden State Warriors||65/1|
Odds courtesy of VegasInsider.com and are current as of April 30, 2014.
Washington took care of Chicago rather handily, as John Wall has really come into his own in his first career appearance in the NBA playoffs. He's averaging 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game to lead this team.
Some are shocked by this series. Harsh truth: the Bulls overachieved during the regular season, and the Wizards underachieved a little.— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) April 30, 2014
As they await the winner of the Pacers-Atlanta Hawks series, the Wizards have to be feeling good about themselves. For one, they have already notched one underdog win. Secondly, neither Indiana or Atlanta really stack up well against Washington right now.
Atlanta barely made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, and Indiana will only advance if they can barely squeak past the Hawks. Barring a miraculous turnaround, Indiana likely won't be in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Don't sleep on the Wizards. There's a reason their odds are pretty high right now.
The Memphis Grizzlies hold a 3-2 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 1. Memphis has surprisingly taken this lead because of strong play, but also because of OKC's weakened bench play.
Overall, the games have been extremely compelling. Nate Scott of USA Today explains why:
The Grizzlies-Thunder first round series has now played five games. The last four of those games went to overtime. In four straight games, these teams couldn’t find a way to separate, one way or the other, by a single point.
Last night’s (April 29) overtime game was decided when a last-second shot left Serge Ibaka’s hand a moment after the buzzer went off. It was less than a second too late. That’s how much is separating these two teams right now — we’re talking milliseconds here. It couldn’t be any closer.
Memphis may have the lead now, but there's no telling if it'll maintain its last-second luck in Games 6 and 7. If they do get past OKC, their chances appear pretty strong to advance through the Western Conference.
San Antonio and Dallas are locked in a series that has become closer than anticipated. The Spurs are the superior team, but they aren't playing like it at this juncture.
Memphis is a quality team that often gets overlooked. It shouldn't be after this series.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are playing with a collective chip on their shoulders, and they've been firing on all cylinders against Golden State. Armed with Sixth Man of the Year winner Jamal Crawford, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com, and a bevy of other stars, the Clippers appear poised to dismantle anyone on their way to the top.
What makes the Clippers so tough to beat is that they have multiple options capable of stealing the show. In the team's Game 5 win over the Warriors, it was DeAndre Jordan, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times points out:
Jordan had a double-double in the first half and finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots at Staples Center. The Clippers can end the series Thursday in Game 6 at Golden State.
Should L.A. end the series in Game 6 (or Game 7, for that matter), it'll take on either OKC or Memphis in Round 2.