The 2014 NBA playoffs are in the midst of a wild second round, but many basketball fans are looking to make a wager on the championship odds for each remaining team.
With Washington battling Indiana, Brooklyn trying to hold on against Miami, San Antonio looking to put Portland away and Oklahoma City putting on a show with Los Angeles, the race to the NBA championship is wide open.
Here are the championship odds for every remaining team and which team is worthy of a blockbuster bet.
|2014 Championship Odds and Line|
|San Antonio Spurs||9-4||+225|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||15-4||+375|
|Los Angeles Clippers||12-1||+1,200|
|Portland Trail Blazers||200-1||+20,000|
Smartest Championship Bet: Oklahoma City Thunder
While many gamblers will be laying their hard-earned cash down on the Miami Heat or San Antonio Spurs to win the 2014 NBA championship, the smartest bet will be on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
At 15-4 odds, Oklahoma City will yield the best return of the top three contenders. While the payout wouldn’t be nearly as large as if Brooklyn or Washington won the title, the wager would be the perfect mix of risk and reward.
The Thunder lead their series 3-2 after a wild Game 5 that came down to the wire. Each and every matchup in this series has kept basketball fans on the edge of their seats, but Tuesday’s game was one for the ages.
ESPN’s SportsCenter and stats department talked about Los Angeles’ epic collapse:
The Clippers are one of the best teams in the NBA and deserve to be in the position they’re in now. With that said, Oklahoma City deserves as much credit for keeping the pressure on its opponents as Los Angeles deserves blame for the collapse.
Durant told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com before Game 5 about his team’s game plan when the Clippers inevitably used two defenders to smother him:
We can’t just sit there and just try to force it to me because that’s what they want me to do. They want those guys to front and get up under me. By the time we sit there and just force-feed it down, time is running off, so by the time I passed out of it, there’s two or three seconds left on the shot clock. I’ve got to move around a little bit more and not try to demand the ball when there’s basically two [defenders] going to guard me, so got to make their defense move.
The Thunder played better, but still have room to improve.
Through the first round and much of the second, Oklahoma City boasts two of the top three scorers in the NBA. With Durant averaging 30.8 points per game and Russell Westbrook averaging 27.3 PPG, the offensive unit has been the bright spot and could match up against any team left in the playoffs.
The key will be the defensive play from the rest of the team. With center Kendrick Perkins offering little offensive support, he and the rest of the low-post players must collectively step up their game to keep the paint clear.
With a solid perimeter defense, Oklahoma City will thrive if they can force its opponents to take outside shots. That will be a much needed strength if the Thunder want to go through likely opponents San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals and Miami in the NBA Finals.
The road to a title won’t be easy, but OKC has the talent to make this wager worth the investment.
Postseason Prediction: Oklahoma City wins 2014 NBA championship
*Stats via NBA.com.