Though we know all 16 teams that will be in the tournament to beat the NBA Finals odds, the teams haven’t all finished up sorting out their seeding for the dance. Check out our NBA picks for the playoffs as we head into the final day of the regular season.
With two days left in the season, the NBA playoffs are now set in the Eastern Conference once and for all. Check out the pairings for the first round.
#1 Chicago Bulls vs. #8 Indiana Pacers
#2 Miami Heat vs. #7 Philadelphia 76ers
#3 Boston Celtics vs. #6 New York Knicks
#4 Orlando Magic vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks
In the Hunt: None
The final call basically belonged to the Celtics, who decided to rest their starters in the second to last game of the season against the Washington Wizards, something that ultimately led to their elimination from contention for the No. 2 seed. Boston was beaten by Washington, and when parlayed with a Miami win over the Hawks on Monday, the rest of the playoffs at the top were set.
Philadelphia’s loss to the Magic at home on Monday also locked in the Sixers at No. 7 and the Knicks at No. 6.
In the Western Conference, the postseason picture would look as follows if the playoffs started right now…
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Memphis Grizzlies
#2 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #7 New Orleans Hornets
#3 Dallas Mavericks vs. #6 Portland Trail Blazers
#4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #5 Denver Nuggets
In the Hunt: None
There is still plenty of sorting out to do in the Western Conference, as there actually isn’t a single series that is set at the moment. All that we actually do know is that San Antonio is No. 1, Denver is No. 5, and Portland is No. 6, and the last was only made true on Tuesday night when the Blazers beat the Grizzlies to lock into that position.
The Lakers were the big gainers of last night, as their win over the Spurs guaranteed that they won’t be any worse than No. 3 in the playoffs, avoiding Denver in the first round. LA knows that a win or a Dallas loss gives it the No. 2 seed. Oklahoma City is still trying to move up from No. 4, but it needs a win and a Dallas loss to get into the No. 3 seed.
At the bottom of the playoff bracket in the West, the only question is whether the Hornets or the Grizzlies will be in the No. 7 seed, while the other will be No. 8. New Orleans holds its own destiny, as a win or a Memphis loss gives the boys from the Crescent City the nod.
One other final note that has gone under the radar… The Bulls and Spurs are knotted at 61 wins apiece. If both teams win or lose on Wednesday, there will be a random drawing to determine who has home court advantage in the NBA Finals should these two meet.
Games of Note on Wednesday…
Milwaukee Bucks @ Oklahoma City Thunder (8:00 ET) – We’re not all that sure that the Thunder are going to care about this one, but they might not have to, knowing how awful Milwaukee really is. Oklahoma City needs a win and help to get out of the No. 4 seed, or Denver can book its flight to the Sooner State.
New Orleans Hornets @ Dallas Mavericks (8:00 ET) – Certainly the most interesting game of the night. The Mavs need a win to guarantee no worse than No. 3, while New Orleans is trying to get up into the No. 7 slot once and for all. A Dallas win parlayed with losses by LA and Memphis makes this a first round playoff matchup.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 ET) – Simply put for the Grizz, it’s pick up a win in LA, or pack your bags for San Antonio. A win likely keeps Memphis right here in Tinseltown though, as long as Dallas and LA both win on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Sacramento Kings (10:30 ET): An interesting game for the Lakers. Andrew Bynum hurt his knee already, which could cause Head Coach Phil Jackson to want to rest some of his big boys for the playoffs. If the Lakers win this one, they’ll be the No. 2 seed. A loss parlayed with a Dallas win and they drop to No. 3. The bigger concern though, might be gaining home court advantage in the NBA Finals over some of these Eastern Conference foes. Miami cannot be caught, and a loss gives the chance for Boston to catch LA as well, though we know that the C’s are resting their starters.
Current NBA Finals Odds
San Antonio Spurs +485
Los Angeles Lakers +245
Chicago Bulls +525
Miami Heat +425
Boston Celtics +845
Orlando Magic +2015
Dallas Mavericks +2050
Oklahoma City Thunder +2015
Denver Nuggets +4050
Portland Trail Blazers +6050
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.