2011 NBA Playoff Predictions: Updated Championship Odds for All 16 Teams
The NBA playoffs are finally underway in what is shaping out be one of the most exciting postseasons we have seen in recent memory.
As expected, the favorites to win the Larry O'Brien trophy are the Los Angles Lakers, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls.
Those five teams all have a legitimate shot of capturing a championship this season. It will be very entertaining to watch the high-profile stars go head-to-head as they compete for a ring.
Here are the updated Las Vegas odds for all 16 teams currently in the playoffs.
16. Indiana Pacers
Although the Pacers gave the Bulls a run for their money in their 104-99 Game 1 loss yesterday, they don't have much of a chance against the bigger, badder Bulls.
Chicago creates too many matchup problems with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in the frontcourt. And then there is that guy Derrick Rose, who has all but won the MVP award.
The Pacers have a lot of young, gritty players, but they are far from a championship team. The Pacers will put forth a valiant effort in this first-round series, but the Bulls will ultimately eliminate them pretty quickly. Therefore, Indiana has the worst odds to win a championship this season.
15. Memphis Grizzlies
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Grizzlies recorded their first postseason victory in franchise history with their win over the Spurs today. They showed a lot of heart against a Spurs team that is tied for the best home record in the NBA.
Despite the big win, the Spurs are too battle-tested to lose to an inexperienced Grizzlies team. San Antonio might be taking on more than they anticipated, but their veterans will ultimately lead the way.
Memphis has a strong core, but they aren't ready to upset a team like the Spurs. They have very low odds of getting out of the first round.
14. New Orleans Hornets
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The Hornets stunned the Lakers today behind a 33-point, 14-assist effort from Chris Paul. It was a big morale win for a New Orleans team that suffered a big loss when David West went down with a season-ending injury.
The Lakers own the size advantage by a large margin, and that will lead them to winning this series. New Orleans will fight hard, but will see another early playoff exit.
The clock might be ticking on Paul's time in New Orleans.
13. Atlanta Hawks
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Despite being demolished in last season's second-round match against the Magic, the Hawks were able get a 10-point victory in their series opener vs. Orlando last night.
Still, the Hawks are not a championship contending team and with their current roster, it doesn't appear they will be anytime soon.
Atlanta has a great starting five that is capable of success, but they won't be able to get over the hump, especially with the likes of Miami, Chicago and Boston ahead of them in the East.
The Hawks might be able to sneak by the Magic, but won't get out of the second round with the Bulls as a likely opponent.
12. Philadelphia 76ers
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Philadelphia had a great comeback year after missing the playoffs last year, and Coach Doug Collins is a top candidate for Coach of the Year. However, Miami's star trio will ultimately be too much for the 76ers to handle.
The Sixers' deep bench will certainly challenge Miami, but it won't be enough for them to avoid a first-round exit.
11. Portland Trail Blazers
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
If there is going to be an upset in the first round, the Trail Blazers are the team that could pull it off. They are facing a Dallas team that has continually been bounced out of the playoffs earlier than expected.
Although Dallas won Game 1 last night, the Blazers are a highly capable team. Led by LaMarcus Aldridge and the newly acquired Gerald Wallace, Portland can be very dangerous.
They are one of the better defensive teams in the league, holding opponents to 94.8 points per game. However, they have been bitten by the injury bug this year with key players missing significant time.
They have a good shot at upsetting Dallas, but most likely wouldn't be able to upset the mighty Lakers in the second round.
10. Denver Nuggets
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Since the Carmelo Anthony deal, the Nuggets have been one of the best teams in the league. They have a roster full of scorers, and they are very effective sharing the ball.
They also have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA with a second unit that is better than some team's starting lineups.
They face a tough first round task in Oklahoma City, but it wouldn't be extremely surprising if they were able to knock off the Thunder. Denver would likely face the Spurs in the second round, which would be very tough for a team lacking a true superstar.
Still, kudos to the Nuggets for how successful they've been without Anthony.
9. New York Knicks
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
The Knicks suffered a devastating loss at the hands of Ray Allen in their Game 1 opener against the Celtics last night.
However, New York has been playing their best basketball recently, winning seven of their final nine games. And with the Knicks playing a vulnerable Celtics team, anything can happen.
If the Knicks commit to defense, they will have a shot to upset Boston. However, the Celtics have been waiting all season for the playoffs, and they are looking to prove they have one last run in them.
New York is on a rise with their new dynamic duo, but this year likely isn't their time.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Led by the All-Star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder will be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.
With the addition of Kendrick Perkins, they have a new found toughness and inside presence that they lacked before. They have the potential to do a lot of damage in the postseason.
However, their minimal playoff experience will ultimately show against a team like the Spurs or Lakers. Either way, they have a legitimate shot to make the Western Conference Finals.
7. Orlando Magic
Marc Serota/Getty Images
The Magic seem to be somewhat of an afterthought this year with the rise of the Heat and Bulls in the East.
However, this is a Magic team that has made it to the Eastern Conference Finals the last two years in a row, and they still boast a very athletic roster.
They have the best center in the league in Dwight Howard and plenty of play makers. They had a slip up last night in Game 1 at home against the Hawks, but they should be able to bounce back.
Orlando can hang with any team in the league, but inconsistency has plagued them all year long. Howard will have to lead this team both offensively and defensively, as well as avoid foul trouble for the Magic to have any chance.
They might advance to the East Finals, but likely won't reach the NBA Finals this season.
6. Dallas Mavericks
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Mavericks have an excellent core of veterans, but they just can't seem to get it together in the playoffs.
Dallas has put together 11 consecutive 50-win seasons, but consistently come up short in the postseason.
The Mavs are often criticized for being "soft," but Tyson Chandler has helped with that issue somewhat. This team is deep enough to make a run in the playoffs, but they can't let previous mishaps affect them in the postseason.
They looked good in their Game 1 victory over Portland last night. Still, they face a tough road in the Western Conference with the Lakers as their probable second round opponent.
5. Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Bulls shocked the NBA world after finishing the season with the league's best record.
Thy are led by MVP-favorite Derrick Rose, and they have an excellent chance of making a deep playoff run. However, their lack of playoff experience could be their downfall.
Chicago will most likely have to go through Orlando, Miami, or Boston to make a trip to the Finals this season, and that could prove to be overwhelming for a non-playoff tested team.
4. San Antonio Spurs
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Much like the Lakers, the Spurs were shocked with a Game 1 home defeat.
San Antonio finished with the second best record in the league, but they are an aging team. In addition, Manu Ginobili missed Game 1 due to an elbow injury, and most of the roster is banged up in some way.
However, the Spurs have experience on their side with four championships in the last 12 years. Coach Popovich has done a stellar job with this team by making them more of a fast-paced team instead of a slow, halfcourt team like in previous years.
The Spurs have an arduous task, but they are just as capable as any of the other elite teams when it comes to winning the title this year.
3. Boston Celtics
Ray Allen has come to the rescue for the Celtics once again in Boston's Game 1 victory over the Knicks last night.
He hit the game winning three-pointer for Boston after the Knicks held the lead for almost the entire game.
Boston has been stumbling as of late after trading Kendrick Perkins, but they are still a very good team. They have the advantage of having a group of players that have played together for nearly four years and been to the Finals twice in that span.
Boston has an extremely good shot of making a return trip to the Finals this year, but they will need their big men (Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal) to stay healthy.
2. Miami Heat
Marc Serota/Getty Images
They have experienced an up and down season, where they have shown flashes of greatness, as well as inconsistency.
Fortunately for the Heat, they have gotten hot at the right time, winning 15 of their final 18 games to close out the season. They also showed that they can beat their competition after finally defeating Boston at the end of the season.
This Heat team can be so lethal at times, but it all depends on the play of their Big Three and their defense. Miami has a likely date with Boston in the second round, so they better bring their A game if they want to advance far into the playoffs.
With the way they've been playing recently, it appears Miami could be playing in June.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
According to Vegas Insider, the Lakers have the greatest odds of being NBA champions this season.
The two-time defending champs were red hot after the All-Star break when they won 17 of 18 games, but then lost five straight. Still, under the guidance of Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers could undoubtedly pull off their second three-peat of the last decade.
Despite their Game 1 loss to the Hornets last night, the Lakers are a veteran team that has faced adversity like this before. They can win on the road, and they know what they need to do to get back in this series.
Bryant is determined to win his sixth ring, and he won't let anything get in his way. LA is more battle tested than any team in the league, and they are hungry to achieve the three-peat. This is why they have the best odds to win the championship this season.