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NBA Playoffs 2019: Updated Odds, Predictions for NBA Finals

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA.Aaron Gash/Associated Press

The NBA season has reached the deep stretch, and it's all about playoff positioning with just weeks to go in the regular season. 

This is a different type of season than the NBA has seen in years, with the Milwaukee Bucks rising to the top of the standings.

Not only have the Bucks become the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference, but they also have a better record than the Golden State Warriors.

That has to say something about this team's chances of getting through the Eastern Conference playoffs and making a bid at the NBA crown.

The Warriors have regained the top spot in the Western Conference, but they have just a slight advantage over the much-improved Denver Nuggets.

While it's easy to think the Warriors could be in some kind of danger because the Nuggets are just one-half game behind, the likelihood is that Steve Kerr's team is somewhat bored with the regular season.

That appears to be what the handicappers are thinking, as the Warriors are the 4-9 favorites to win their third straight NBA title and fourth in five years.

Here's a look at the NBA standings, along with the current odds to win the NBA Championship (per VegasInsider).

     

Eastern Conference Standings

1. x-Milwaukee Bucks (53-19)

2. x-Toronto Raptors (51-21)

3. x-Philadelphia 76ers (47-25)

4. Indiana Pacers (44-29)

5. Boston Celtics (43-29)

6. Detroit Piston (37-34)

7. Brooklyn Nets (37-36)

8. Miami Heat (35-36)

9. Orlando Magic (34-38)

10. Charlotte Hornets (32-39)

11. Washington Wizards (30-43)

12. e-Atlanta Hawks (25-48)

13. e-Chicago Bulls (21-52)

14. e-Cleveland Cavaliers (19-53)

15. e-New York Knicks (14-58)

           

Western Conference Standings

1. x-Golden State Warriors (49-22)

2. x-Denver Nuggets (48-22)

3. Houston Rockets (45-27)

4. Portland Trail Blazers (44-27)

5. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-30)

6. San Antonio Spurs (42-30)

7. Utah Jazz (42-30)

8. Los Angeles Clippers (42-30)

9. Sacramento Kings (35-36)

10. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-40)

11. Los Angeles Lakers (31-40)

12. e-New Orleans Pelicans (31-43)

13. e-Memphis Grizzlies (29-42)

14. e-Dallas Mavericks (28-44)

15. e-Phoenix Suns (17-56)

Note: x = clinched a playoff spot, e = eliminated from playoff contention

NBA Championship Odds

Golden State Warriors 4-9
Milwaukee Bucks 7-1
Houston Rockets 10-1
Toronto Raptors 12-1
Boston Celtics 15-1
Philadelphia 76ers 30-1
Denver Nuggets 50-1
Oklahoma City Thunder 50-1
Portland Blazers 80-1
Utah Jazz 80-1
San Antonio Spurs 125-1
Detroit Pistons 200-1
Indiana Pacers 300-1
Brooklyn Nets 350-1
Los Angeles Clippers 400-1
Miami Heat 750-1
Orlando Magic 2000-1
Charlotte Hornets 2500-1
Washington Wizards 9999-1

Predictions

The Bucks have been the best team in the Eastern Conference all season, but that doesn't mean they are going to cruise through the playoffs.

They have taken a huge step up with a talented roster led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they lost Malcolm Brogdon to a plantar fascia tear, and he is likely to miss six-to-eight weeks as a result, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN.com. 

While the loss of Brogdon is a serious blow, it does not have to derail Milwaukee since the team has so much depth to support Antetokounmpo.

Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe are mainstays, and newcomer Nikola Mirotic can pick it up in Brogdon's absence.

The Raptors are clearly a force, and the 76ers have taken a big step up this year. The Pacers can be viewed as overachievers, while the Celtics have had a difficult year.

Boston is talented enough to win a series even if they don't have home-court advantage. If they win as the No. 4 or 5 seed, they will likely have to play the Bucks in the second round.

The Celtics were the favorites in the East at the start of the season, but even with Kyrie Irving leading the way, they have not had the kind of consistency that was expected.

If they get it together, they could push the Bucks to seven games, but we don't see Boston beating Milwaukee on the road in the decisive game.

Toronto or Philadelphia will meet the Bucks in the Eastern Final, and the Bucks will prevail.

The Western Conference seemingly belongs to the Warriors. Strong challenges could come from the Nuggets, Rockets or Trail Blazers, but Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant & Co. have done it too many times.

They will get to the championship round once again.

This time, they face a new challenge from Milwaukee. If the Bucks have Brogdon back, they will have their full complement. 

Milwaukee could make it a tremendous series and push the Warriors to the limit, but Golden State will not lose in the championship round.

Make it three titles in a row and four in five years for the NBA's dynastic Warriors. 

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