The 2011 NBA regular season wraps up next Wednesday as the playoffs (the league’s real season) finally gets underway. Bookmaker has recently updated each team’s odds for winning a NBA Championship and while 16 teams will enter this year’s postseason tournament, there are only a handful that have a legitimate shot to win it all.
The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers remain the odds-on-favorite to win another title at 9/5. They have been one of the hottest teams in the league since the All-Star break with a straight-up record of 17-3. LA currently trails San Antonio by 3 ½ games for the top spot in the Western Conference after back-to-back losses to and Denver and Utah so it will most likely enter the postseason as the No.2 seed.
Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have been nicked-up lately with some minor injuries, but for the most part this team is healthy and ready for another long run in the postseason. While a less than two-to-one return on your money offers little value on your investment, it may have to suffice as it is hard to find a solid reason for picking against this team from winning it all.
The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are the second favorites to win this year’s title at 5/2. The Heat have been cruising along with eight wins in their last nine games, but a disturbing 102-90 loss to Cleveland on March 29 along with the fact that they have yet to prove they can beat the better teams in the league on a consistent basis, raises more than a few red flags for this team. Do not be surprised if Miami makes an early exit from the playoffs with a loss in the second round.
Boston has not looked particularly sharp down the stretch with a 7-5 record in its last 12 games. The Celtics fell into a late season swoon before last year’s playoffs before making it all the way to the finals, but there is a bit more concern with this team this time around. Kendrick Perkins was a big reason it made it that far and a big reason Boston eventually lost to the Lakers after going down with an injury in the championship series. At 5/2 odds, the value is just not there to lunk it all on this team.
The real value this postseason lies with the Chicago Bull at 5/1 coming out of the East and with the Oklahoma City Thunder at 15/1 coming out of the West. Chicago currently has a three-game lead over Boston and Miami for the top spot in the conference and is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games including a current four-game winning streak. The Bulls are tied for the best home record in the league at 34-5 and look like they will be able to ride home-court advantage all the way through the Eastern Conference finals.
Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah present a formidable lineup and Chicago’s stifling defense is holding opponents to just 91.4 points a game, which is second-best in the league. The Bulls lack the Celtics and Lakers’ experience in the playoffs, but home court could be the great equalizer in a potential matchup.
Oklahoma City is the team that nobody wants to face in the postseason. A less talented team took the Lakers to six games in the first round last season and the new and improved Thunder could very well find themselves matched up against LA again in this year’s Western Conference finals. They would most likely have to take out Denver and San Antonio to get there, but that is well within this team’s capabilities. The big question is how well will Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook hold up during what looks like a very grueling run to the finals? None the less, at 15/1 Oklahoma City is definitely worth a second look.
Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.