Who ya got in the East? LeBron and a new cast of characters? The Raptors, who just can’t seem to find a way past LeBron? Or the up-and-coming Sixers, led by Aussie superstar-in-the-making Ben Simmons?
And what about the West? It’s as messy as ever, with defending champs Golden State fighting the injury factor and trying to hold off the record-setting Rockets, the unpredictable Thunder, the precocious Blazers and the ageing Spurs.
Here’s a quick look at the top contenders in each conference, with the odds of winning their respective conferences (odds, of course, may change).
Eastern Conference Contenders
Cleveland Cavaliers $2.10
✅ LeBron. Say no more.
❌ Defense, not sure they have any.
🤔 Can the new crew adapt to playoff intensity?
🤞 Kevin Love stays healthy.
Toronto Raptors $2.37
✅ Confidence. Best record in franchise history.
❌ The ghosts of playoffs past.
🤔 Can they find a way to beat LeBron?
🤞 They find a way to beat LeBron.
Philadelphia 76ers $11 (in from $12)
✅ Simmons, Embiid, youth, exuberance.
❌ Crunch time decision making.
🤔 Are they a year or two away?
🤞 Embiid’s injury isn’t that bad.
Boston Celtics $15 (out from $5.50)
✅ Brad Stevens has had team buying in all year.
❌ No Kyrie.
🤔 Can Rozier, Tatum and Brown step up?
🤞 They can ride the ‘nobody believes in us’ factor.
Indiana Pacers $34
✅ Oladipo is an absolute star.
❌ Not sure the supporting cast is strong enough.
🤔 Can their success against good teams continue?
🤞 Hope people keep overlooking them.
Western Conference Contenders
Golden State Warriors $1.80
✅ They’re the champs, the Alpha Dogs.
❌ Injuries, the hunger factor.
🤔 Is Angry KD a good or bad thing?
🤞 Steph is 100%.
Houston Rockets $2.30
✅ Harden. CP3. Confidence.
❌ Haven’t won conference title in 23 years.
🤔 Can D’Antoni’s freewheeling offense work in the playoffs?
🤞 Harden gets some friendly officiating.
Oklahoma City Thunder $18
✅ Russ. And the home crowd.
❌ Erratic, unpredictable.
🤔 Can Paul George be the X-Factor?
🤞 Melo rises to the occasion.
San Antonio Spurs $31
✅ Pop. Tradition. Experience.
❌ Injuries make them a shell of the team they once were.
🤔 What the hell is going on with Kawhi?
🤞 They draw the right opponent in the first round.
Portland Trail Blazers $36
✅ Dame & CJ.
❌ Young, inexperienced.
🤔 Can the bench contribute enough?
🤞 They get favourable matchups.