The NBA playoffs have reached the Conference semi-finals, and with it the possible contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy has narrowed to just eight.
Despite the LA Lakers and LeBron James crashing out, there is still a large number of stars aiming to fire their teams to the Finals.
Domination in the East
The story of this year’s NBA playoffs has been one of domination in the Eastern Conference, with all four first-round ties complete in five games or fewer.
Those one-sided ties have given way to two intriguing matchups now in the shape of the Philadelphia 76ers facing the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Brooklyn Nets.
One game has been played in both ties and the Hawks have taken a 1-0 lead at home, riding Trae Young’s 38 points to a 128-124 victory.
In the Nets and Bucks Game One, Milwaukee managed to stick with their opponents until Brooklyn outscored them 35-23 in the third quarter and pulled away.
The star-studded Nets are favourites to come through the East, priced up at
5/7 to win the conference.
Second favourites at
13/5 are their semi-final rivals Milwaukee, with the odds compilers clearly favouring that matchup to the 76ers and Hawks.
In the Western Conference, the contrast with the East is clear with three of the four first round games needing a Game Six to decide them.
The LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks went one further, with LA coming out as dominant winners 126-111 in a Game Seven.
Both semi-final ties in the West are yet to get underway, and the market is struggling to find a clear leader.
Utah Jazz were the most convincing first-round winners, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 4-1 and perhaps as a result, they are
7/5 favourites to win the West.
Ways to Play
In the Western Conference it may pay to side with the Clippers to come out on top at
19/10. In Kawhi Leonard, Rajon Rondo and Serge Ibaka, they have experienced players who have been deep in the playoffs time and again and know what it takes to win.
In the East, it will take some performance to stop the Brooklyn Nets, with Kevin Durrant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
It certainly seems that whoever comes out on top in that matchup with the Bucks will have the upper hand in the Conference final.
Harden will miss at least Game Two with a hamstring injury and that has opened the door slightly for the Bucks.
In Giannis Antetokounmpo, they have the 2019 and 2020 MVP and one of the NBA’s most dominant players.
The matchup looks set to be back and forth all the way and as a result,
19/10 about the tie going to a Game Seven looks interesting.
*All odds correct at time of writing.