The NBA playoffs are almost a round deep and the headline news so far has been the elimination of the reigning champions, the LA Lakers.
The Lakers went down 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns, marking the first time in his career that LeBron James has been dumped out of the post-season at the first time of asking.
The star-studded Brooklyn Nets are the favourites at
31/20 to win a maiden NBA Championship since being merged into the league from the ABA in 1976, with Western Conference top dogs Utah Jazz second in the betting at
Lakers Exit No Surprise
Injuries to LeBron and Anthony Davis were the stories of the Lakers’ season, eventually trundling to seventh in the Western Conference. They did, at one stage, lead the Suns 2-1 but fell off the pace as Phoenix came through.
Questions regarding the depth of Frank Vogel’s roster will now be asked and the same can be said of last year’s beaten finalists, the Miami Heat. The Floridians were swept 4-0 by Milwaukee Bucks, with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo dominating the series.
The Nets were 4-1 winners over Boston, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant making their mark against the Celtics, while the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers were too good for New York and Washington, respectively.
Joining the Suns in the Western Conference semifinals are the Jazz, who beat Memphis 4-1, while Denver will meet Phoenix after matching their 4-2 series win against Portland. That was despite Damian Lillard landing 55 points with double-digit assists, including a playoff record 12 three-pointers, in Game Three.
However, they will need to shackle the brilliant Luka Dončić, who has averaged a competition high 35.0 points so far in the playoffs.
Super Semifinals Await
Continuing into the weekend and the Conference Semifinals, the first of which sees Atlanta Hawks mix it with the Philadelphia 76ers.
This will be the third playoff meeting between the teams, Philly having come out on top on both previous occasions, while they also won their regular-season series 2-1.
The 76ers are 20/31 to draw first blood on Sunday, with the Hawks
6/5, while in the opening Conference Semifinal in the West, the Suns are
20/39 to take the lead against the
6/4 Nuggets, despite Denver beating them twice this season.
Meanwhile, on the Atlantic coast, Brooklyn welcome Milwaukee Bucks in Game One in the early hours of Sunday. The Bucks,
6/4 to take a 1-0 lead, are looking dangerous after sweeping the Miami Heat in round one and are 2-1 up from the pair’s regular-season series. The Nets are the outright favourites for a reason, though, and are
5/9 to take an early advantage against Giannis’ team at the Barclays Center.
*All odds correct at time of writing