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NBA Playoffs 2020: Postseason Standings, Championship Odds and Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts after a dunk by forward Anthony Davis (3) in the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Most of the primary contenders for the NBA championship have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the playoff teams in the last week. 

Toronto and Boston are already through to the second round in the Eastern Conference, and their head-to-head series will begin Thursday.

Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers have rebounded well from Game 1 defeats to move one game away from advancing to the conference semifinal round. 

The Los Angeles Clippers have faced the most difficulty of the title hopefuls, but they showed Tuesday they are more than capable of finishing off the Dallas Mavericks before that series reaches Game 7. 

The paths will get tougher for each team as the postseason progresses, but as of now, they can all make a case to be the champion. 

              

Playoff Standings

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee leads No. 8 Orlando 3-1

No. 2 Toronto defeated No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston defeated No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami defeated No. 4 Indiana 4-0

      

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers lead No. 8 Portland 3-1

No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers lead No. 7 Dallas 3-2

No. 6 Utah leads No. 3 Denver 3-2

No. 4 Houston tied with No. 5 Oklahoma City 2-2

     

Championship Odds

Milwaukee (+300; bet $100 to win $300)

Los Angeles Clippers (+325) 

Los Angeles Lakers (+350)

Toronto (+750)

Boston (+900)

Houston (+1200)

Miami (+1800)

Utah (+4000)

Dallas (+6000)

Denver (+6600)

Oklahoma City (+6600)

Portland (+50000)

Orlando (+100000)

Odds via Oddschecker

        

Predictions

Lakers Do Not Face Another Challenge Until Western Conference Finals

Kim Klement/Associated Press

The dominant version of the Lakers we expected to see in the bubble showed up in Games 2, 3 and 4 against Portland. 

In Game 4, Anthony Davis tore through the Portland defense to record 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two blocks in a game that was over before the fourth quarter began. 

Los Angeles will likely have an easy time with the Trail Blazers in Game 5 since Damian Lillard has been declared out with a knee sprain. 

Even if Lillard was on the floor, the Lakers may have overpowered Portland through Davis and LeBron James to set up a second-round meeting with the winner of the Houston-Oklahoma City series. 

If Houston advances out of that series, Davis could take over against Houston's lack of size, and he could be the most important player, no matter how three-pointers James Harden sinks. 

Davis is averaging 26.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game and is shooting 52.1 percent from the field against Portland. 

Those totals could increase with P.J. Tucker being the primary defender in the paint against Davis. 

The Lakers big man could also find success against Steven Adams and the Thunder. He had two 30-point performances against them in the regular season. 

After the Game 1 loss to Portland, the Lakers' perimeter defense seemed to be the flaw that would cost them a spot in the NBA Finals, but they have held Portland to 35.7 percent from beyond the arc. 

Houston and Oklahoma City are shooting at a slightly worse rate in their first-round series. As long as the Lakers do not get gashed for 15-20 made three-pointers against one of those teams, it should handle either matchup fairly easily to reach the Western Conference Finals with some rest. 

              

Winner of Toronto-Boston Series Comes Out Of East

Kim Klement/Associated Press

The first of four second-round matchups to get underway could feature an NBA Finals participant. 

Toronto and Boston overpowered their respective first-round opponents and have enough firepower to outlast Milwaukee in a seven-game series. 

One of the main factors benefiting the Raptors and Celtics is their scoring depth. 

Even without Gordon Hayward, the Celtics had Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum all average over 20 points per game against Philadelphia. 

Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis both chipped in with 8.5 points per game, and other players off the bench gave Brad Stevens quality minutes. 

Toronto's scoring depth was even more impressive against Brooklyn, as six players averaged over 10 points per game. Fred VanVleet led the team with 21.8 points per game. 

The Raptors pack a better inside-outside threat through Serge Ibaka, but Tatum, Brown and Walker could thrive against him by cutting through the paint with their athleticism. 

It would not be a surprise to see the East semifinal series go seven games, or to have both teams win multiple games. 

Even if the series reaches Game 7, the winner could emerge from the battle as the favorite to beat Milwaukee because of its well-rounded scoring approach.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is most likely going to reach the 20-or-30-point threshold in every game, but Khris Middleton has struggled to support him. 

In the Game 4 win over Orlando, Middleton needed a fourth-quarter surge just to get to 19 points, and he has shot 33.9 percent from the field against the Magic. 

Until the Bucks prove they can get consistent performances out of the cast surrounding their superstar, Boston or Toronto could have the inside track to the East's NBA Finals berth.

          

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference

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