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NBA Playoffs 2014: Updated Odds for Every Team to Win a Title

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

NBA Playoffs 2014: Updated Odds for Every Team to Win a Title

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    The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets are two teams that epitomize "championship or bust."
    The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets are two teams that epitomize "championship or bust."Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The 2014 NBA playoffs have not disappointed. Following a Round 1 that saw five Game 7's and numerous tight finishes, it's easy to see how some are calling this the best start to a postseason in league history.

    The best part? We're just getting started.

    At this juncture, we've bid adieu to eight championship hopefuls. That leaves eight teams remaining, all fighting for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

    With Round 2 set, there are no longer pretenders in the field. Everyone still playing deserves to be here, but the question is: Who are the odds-on favorites?

Brooklyn Nets

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    Ron Turenne/Getty Images

    Seed: 6th

    Postseason Record: 4-3

    Championship Odds: 30-1

     

    The Brooklyn Nets are a championship-or-bust team. Their regular-season record might not epitomize that notion in the traditional sense, but when they mortgaged their future for a chance at immediate success, they made it clear they have no desire to be a one-and-done squad in the playoffs.

    Brooklyn made it past the Toronto Raptors in Round 1, and now the defending champion Miami Heat await. Nets fans feel good about their team's chances—it went 4-0 against Miami this year—but the playoffs are where champions are born, not the regular season.

    If Brooklyn can get past LeBron James' Heat, it'll become more of a favorite out East. Both the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards would provide a challenge, but with the Nets' experience, they would seemingly have an edge over either competitor.

    The catch is, they have to get past Miami first—something no team has done since the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.

Washington Wizards

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Seed: 5th

    Postseason Record: 4-1

    Championship Odds: 25-1

     

    The Washington Wizards were impressive in Round 1. Very few people gave them a shot against a stout Chicago Bulls defense, yet they walked away winners in just five contests, proving they can win gritty basketball games.

    Against the Indiana Pacers, Washington will be forced to do the same. The Pacers are every bit as defense-oriented as Chicago, and if Roy Hibbert happens to re-emerge as an All-Star, it will be exactly what Indiana needs to regain its confidence.

    The good news for Washington is that Indy is vulnerable. Bleacher Report's Howard Beck may have put it best when he said, "After two weeks and seven anxiety-riddled games, the Pacers are advancing—their destination a mystery, even to them."

    If the Wizards can continue their run and knock off the Pacers, it will be the Miami Heat or Brooklyn Nets standing in their way of a Finals appearance. It would be the perfect ending for this bounce-back season, but there's a lot of work to be done before we schedule a parade in the nation's capital.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    GREG WAHL-STEPHENS/Associated Press

    Seed: 5th

    Postseason Record: 4-2

    Championship Odds: 20-1

     

    Damian Lillard is a bad, bad man. His walk-off three-pointer against the Houston Rockets sent the Portland Trail Blazers to the second round, the first time Rip City has been there in 14 seasons.

    As much credit as Lillard has deservedly gotten, don't forget that this team has another leader—a three-time All-Star—in LaMarcus Aldridge. In fact, the starting lineup is one of the best in the NBA, with Robin Lopez manning the glass, Wesley Matthews locking down scorers and Nicolas Batum doing a little bit of everything.

    Where the Blazers come up short is on defense and depth. The starters have done a sufficient job of compensating with a high-octane offense, but that'll be easier said than done against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals.

    If Portland can get past San Antonio, the belief is that it can beat anyone. The Spurs have exposed themselves as susceptible to upsets, but if they can come out in Round 2 the way they finished Round 1, the Blazers will have their hands full.

Indiana Pacers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Seed: 1st

    Postseason Record: 4-3

    Championship Odds: 15-1

     

    The Indiana Pacers finished the regular season as the top seed out East, but they're going to need Roy Hibbert to step up on a consistent basis if a title is the goal.

    In Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks, Hibbert took a step in that direction. Almost as important as Paul George's 30 points was the center's 31 minutes on the floor. He scored 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, but the best signs of improvement were his five blocks and just three fouls.

    Up next for Indy is the Washington Wizards. The team from Washington, D.C., took advantage of the Chicago Bulls' anemic offense, which is a bad sign for the Pacers, who averaged just 93.4 points per game in Round 1.

    This is a team that can compete with anyone when it's playing its best, but that's what it's going to take if it hopes to compete in June, let alone Round 3.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Seed: 3rd

    Postseason Record: 4-3

    Championship Odds: 13-2

     

    The Los Angeles Clippers have had a trying postseason. Donald Sterling has been a distraction, Chris Paul's health (sprained thumb, sore hamstring) is in question and the Golden State Warriors were a worthy adversary.

    Luckily for fans in L.A., this group hasn't folded, and the team finds itself with a Round 2 matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Up to this point, Paul's health hasn't been too debilitating. He's averaging 17.4 points, nine assists and 3.1 steals per game in the postseason. He's also shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from behind the arc.

    Paul appears ready to play through his injuries, per the Los Angeles TimesBroderick Turner"I'll be there (Game 7 versus Golden State). At 7:30 when that ball gets thrown up, I'll be right there. I'll be ready."

    If the floor general's health declines and his production follows, it's going to have a monumental impact on this team's championship dreams. Getting past OKC is going to be tough enough as it is, and if the Clips aren't at full strength, the odds will be even further stacked against them.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Seed: 2nd

    Postseason Record: 4-3

    Championship Odds: 4-1

     

    When it comes to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a Finals appearance will be dependent upon efficiency. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are going to get their shots, but success will come from making them and finding ways to compensate when they're not falling.

    As Durant said following Game 7 against the Memphis Grizzlies, per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com), "I think he chose his spots very well tonight, getting everybody involved, rebounding the basketball," referring to Westbrook.

    "But when we needed a basket, he was aggressive enough to get to the rim and make his pull-up jump shot. He just played a full game tonight."

    If Westbrook can perform the way he did in Game 7 the rest of the postseason, this team will be unstoppable. Expecting triple-doubles and franchise records every game is unrealistic, but the same aggression and attention to detail will behoove him and the Thunder moving forward.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Seed: 1st

    Postseason Record: 4-3

    Championship Odds: 4-1

     

    Round 1 was a roller coaster for the San Antonio Spurs. The Dallas Mavericks threatened to play Cinderella, and it was clear that parity was in full effect despite it being a No. 1-No. 8 series.

    That is, until Game 7. 

    The Spurs turned things around to close out Round 1, knocking off the Mavericks 119-96. They looked like the championship contenders we expect them to be, and as a result, they have a date with the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Looking forward, Tony Parker must be the leader of the offense, but he must do it consistently. He needs to be dependable from game to game, as well as half to half. Guys like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green will also be crucial, as success on the perimeter is becoming more important on both ends of the floor.

    Getting past Portland won't be a breeze, as guys such as LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have played them well in the past. That said, San Antonio has bigger goals in mind than the Western Conference Semis, as its championship window will close someday, contrary to recent evidence.

Miami Heat

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Seed: 2nd

    Postseason Record: 4-0

    Championship Odds: 29-20

     

    The Miami Heat may be the odds-on favorites to win a title, but they have to pass the "Brooklyn Nets Test" before we can look too far into the future.

    During the regular season, Brooklyn did the unthinkable: It swept Miami in a four-game series. Nobody expects the Nets to win four straight over the Heat in the playoffs, but their ability to slow the pace and play physically translates well this time of year.

    So what gives Miami the edge in this series? Aside from the fact that it has a guy named LeBron James, it has rest on its side. The Heat took care of business quickly in Round 1, and as a result they have fresh legs—something Brooklyn lacks, having gone down to the final possession in Game 7.

    The Heat looked vulnerable at times against the Charlotte Bobcats, but they're the favorites for a reason. Dwyane Wade hasn't even played his best basketball in the playoffs, giving Miami a sense of optimism that it can only get better from here.

     

    *All odds are courtesy of VegasInsider.com and are current as of May 5 at midnight ET.

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