Warriors Clear Favorites In West, But 4 Other Teams Have Shot
The 16-team NBA playoffs start with four games on Saturday and four more on Sunday and the Western Conference looks like a potential death match between five teams: No. 1 Golden State, No. 2 Houston, No. 3 L.A. Clippers, No. 5 Memphis and No. 6 San Antonio. Their Sportsbook.ag odds to win the conference are: Warriors -110, Spurs +220, Clippers +900, Rockets +1200 and Grizzlies +1500.
Blazers, Mavs, Pelicans Too Many Faults
Sorry, but I don’t believe that No. 4 Portland, No. 7 Dallas or No. 8 New Orleans has any shot. The Blazers are banged up, possibly without Nic Batum and Arron Afflalo for Game 1 of their series in Memphis. The Mavericks also are hurting and may not have Chandler Parsons for Game 1 in Houston. The Pelicans are just thrilled to be in the playoffs after upsetting San Antonio in the regular-season finale on Wednesday and probably will be swept by the Warriors.
Golden State won the season series 3-1 although New Orleans star Anthony Davis missed two of the games. The Warriors are 39-2 at home this season, tied for the second-best mark in league history. New Orleans, near the bottom of the league in pace, will try to slow the tempo and control the speed as much as possible by utilizing the inside presence of Davis. The Pelicans can spread the court, with Eric Gordon, Quincy Pondexter, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday all three-point threats. The Warriors have no shortage of options and lead the NBA in defensive efficiency and are No. 2 on offense.
Rockets-Warriors In West Finals?
The Rockets deserve praise for landing the second-seed in what was a brutal Western Conference. Their one-sided win over the Utah Jazz coupled with the Spurs’ loss to New Orleans means they’ll host the seventh-seeded Mavericks in the first round. There are storylines galore on that front, as the in-state rivalry has grown acrimonious in recent years. There’s Parsons leaving Houston for Dallas this offseason and the public feud between Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Rockets GM Daryl Morey. The Rockets won three of four matchups against the Mavericks this season. Houston is a -270 series favorite.
The best first-round matchup is Spurs-Clippers. San Antonio closed winning 11 of 12 and the Clippers seven straight and 14 of 15. . As dynamic as the Warriors were during the regular season, the Los Clippers finished as the league’s best team in terms of offensive rating, just edging the Warriors (109.8 to 109.7). As great as the Clippers were offensively, they were only average defensively, finishing the season 15th with a 103 defensive rating. Meanwhile, the Spurs ranked 6th in offensive rating (106.2) and 3rd in defensive rating (99.6). In four regular season matchups this season, the Clippers and Spurs split the series, with each team winning twice.
Finally, the Grizzlies earned home-court advantage vs. Portland with Wednesday’s win over Indiana and San Antonio’s loss. Memphis (55-27) hobbled to the end of the regular season without its starting backcourt. Point guard Mike Conley missed the final four games with a right foot sprain and defensive ace Tony Allen was out for the last nine of the regular season with a left hamstring pull. Meanwhile, Portland (51-31) has been even more banged-up. Chris Kaman (low back pain), Batum (right knee bruise), C.J. McCollum (left ankle sprain), Afflalo (right shoulder strain), Wesley Matthews (left Achilles surgery) and Dorell Wright (right hand fracture). The first three might have played had the Blazers’ needed them in their finale against Dallas. Afflalo and Wright hope to be back in the playoffs, while Matthews will be on the court again in October. Memphis swept the season series 4-0.
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