The 2014 NBA playoffs have gone back and forth between teams in each individual series, and as such, the NBA Finals odds for all teams involved have changed by the game.
Now that we're down to just eight teams, the outlook for the Finals is starting to become clearer. Predicting the outcome of Round 1 when there are 16 teams is quite difficult. Round 2 makes everything just a bit easier, as we've now seen the trends of each team through at least six games in the playoffs.
Just in case you're not up to speed on the current teams involved in the chase for the NBA championship, an updated bracket can be found here.
And seeing as the odds change by the game, here are the most recent odds from Odds Shark as of May 8.
|San Antonio Spurs||+267|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+630|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+705|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+3550|
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers were confident in their first-round series against the Houston Rockets, and they parlayed that confidence into an upset of sorts. Heading into Round 2, Portland had the right to be confident yet again.
Despite their standing as a No. 1 seed, the San Antonio Spurs had just gone seven games against a much weaker Dallas Mavericks team. Blazers stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard were coming off a stellar series, and it looked as if they might be able to trump the older duo of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
Well, now I'm not so sure.
The Blazers have shown inconsistencies through two games of this series. They won't be able to beat a team like the Spurs without firing on all cylinders each night—similar to how they played against Houston. It doesn't all have to come from Aldridge and Lillard, either, as guys like Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez also need to step it up.
Their odds aren't great to advance past this round, but that could all change with a promising performance in Game 3.
Los Angeles Clippers
It has been a tale of two separate teams, as the Los Angeles Clippers won decisively in Game 1, and the Oklahoma City Thunder won decisively in Game 2. This series has "seven games" written all over it.
On the loss in Game 2, head coach Doc Rivers blamed his team's physicality, via Ben Golliver of SI.com:
"We weren't very physical tonight. Mentally, either, I don't think we were very tough. ... The energy found the ball. [Kendrick] Perkins did it over and over again. [Thabo] Sefolosha did it over and over again."
The key for the Clippers moving forward in this series is slowing down Russell Westbrook. There's no containing Kevin Durant, so the team cannot let his running mate get the best of them. That's exactly what happened in Game 2, and ESPN's SportsCenter tweeted out a crazy stat following the game:
Crazy Stat of Day: Westbrook + Durant are 1st teammates in NBA history w/ at least 30 Pts, 10 Reb, & 9 Ast in same game. (via @EliasSports)— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 8, 2014
The Clippers have all the pieces to make a run at the NBA Finals. Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league, Blake Griffin is a top power forward, and DeAndre Jordan is one of the most efficient big men in the game. Throw in the depth of this team and the quality of the coaching, and there's no reason why the Clippers can't get past the Thunder.
They just need to keep Westbrook in check.
The Miami Heat appear poised to make yet another trip to the NBA Finals.
When you take a look at the three other teams currently competing in the Eastern Conference (Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets), it's clear that none are on their level. Right now, the Wizards would probably give Miami the best competition.
Miami's Game 1 showing against the Nets proved just how potent (and how built for the playoffs) this team is. Greg Cote of the Miami Herald broke down Miami's impressive overall game:
So the Heat — rested and as healthy as it has been all season — kept pouring over Brooklyn, crashing waves over sand castles. They did it with 52 points in the paint, close-in baskets. They did it with a 33-point third quarter that busted open the game as if it were a piñata. They did it by solving Brooklyn’s half-court defense. They did it with five players scoring in double figures led by LeBron’s 22 points and a youthful fountain of 19 from 38-year-old Ray Allen.
With so many weapons to go to when another is struggling, the Heat are difficult to combat. They are a team comprised entirely of competitors who have both been there before and want to be there again. The motivation this team has is uncanny, and the best player in the world, LeBron James, won't stop until he and his teammates are back at the top.
I wouldn't want to be the team that has to run through Miami next.