With less than two months to go until the regular NBA season comes to its conclusion, a number of teams remain in the hunt for the playoff slots. Some places are near-certainties but below the leaders in each division, there are a number of positions still up for grabs.
Who will make it through? Let’s see what the sportsbooks make of things before we draw our own conclusions.
If we’re going to ‘ink in’ one team from either Conference, it has to be the Milwaukee Bucks. Mike Budenholzer’s men have currently won 14 more games than their closest contenders in the Central Division and they lead the Eastern Conference by a wide margin. The Bucks are on offer at odds of 1.60 to win that Conference and that could be the safest bet of the season right now.
With 16 teams progressing to the playoffs, that isn’t going to be our boldest pick of the week so the question is, who will join them?
Canada’s sole representatives and defending NBA Champions the Toronto Raptors haven’t been as dominant in 2019/20 but they’re also certain of progression. The Raptors are offered at a relatively distant 8.50 with Bet365 to win the Eastern Conference and while that may be a hopeful bet, Nick Nurse’s side is looking comfortable in terms of progressing to the next stage.
We’re also going to include Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics who are sandwiched between the Bucks and the Raptors in the Eastern Conference betting. As for the sides on the borderline, we suspect that the Washington Wizards, who are just outside the playoff slots at the time of writing, will improve enough to claim a place in the next phase.
It’s not been their best campaign overall but the Wizards have won four from six in February so far and if they can maintain that form, they should sneak into the playoffs at the expense of Orlando Magic.
Western Wild Cards
Deep into the regular season, we have a similar situation in the Western Conference with a number of teams already certain of booking their places in the playoffs. At the time of writing, the LA Lakers are some way ahead of the competition and are currently available at 2.40 with Bodog to win that Conference.
Over in the West, the Conference winner market is much tighter with the Clippers available at 3.00 with PowerPlay to win it. Like the Lakers, we can book their place in the next round while the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks are likely to progress too.
That leaves us with another scenario where the eighth-placed team is looking vulnerable. The Memphis Grizzlies are clinging on to their playoff slot with the Trail Blazers, the Spurs and the Pelicans all hopeful of extending their season beyond April 15.
Of those three, we are backing the Spurs to come through. February has, admittedly, been a poor month for the San Antonio side but the most recent win over the Thunder suggests a comeback.
Based on our assessment, the eight teams set to progress from the Eastern Conference are the Raptors, the Bucks, Celtics, Heat, 76ers, Pacers, Nets and Wizards. Joining them from the West are the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, Thunder, Mavericks and Spurs.
There are no specific markets for playoff places right now but, if you are itching to take a parlay, we’ll finish with the following Conference Winner tips.
- Milwaukee Bucks to win the Eastern Conference at 1.60 with PowerPlay.
- Los Angeles Clippers to win the Western Conference at 3.00 with PowerPlay.