The NBA regular season is nearly done, which means basketball bettors are getting a good look at what the playoff picture should be. The top eight teams in the Eastern Conference are pretty much set, while the Western Conference has some jockeying for that final spot.
If you’re starting to lookahead to the NBA Playoffs, here are a couple mid-tier contenders and sports betting odds that could throw a wrench in the postseason plans of top seeds in their respective conferences.
Milwaukee Bucks(+6,500 to win the East)
Milwaukee is currently eighth in the Eastern Conference with a bit of padding between the Bucks and the No. 9 and 10 teams. That means that Milwaukee will either face top-seeded Toronto or leap frog Miami for the No. 7 spot and take on Boston in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Bucks are a tough team to peg at times, looking outstanding on offense some nights while playing poor defense on others. If they could put forth a complete effort consistently, Milwaukee might be one of the top teams in the conference. The wild card for the Bucks is forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is a mismatch nightmare for any team. The 6-foot-11 “Greek Freak” has the superstar power to break open a series, especially if Milwaukee can sneak into the No. 7 seed and face a bruised and broken Boston team in the opening round.
Washington Wizards (+2,200)
Washington appeared destined to drop in the Eastern Conference when star guard John Wall was ruled out until April with a knee injury. However, the play of Bradley Beal and backup point guard Tomas Satoransky helped the Wizards hold their own in the second half of the season. The Wizards are currently No. 6 in the East and locked into a matchup with Cleveland in the opening round.
Washington has split both meetings with the Cavaliers this season and do expect to have Wall back in action by mid-April, which means just in time for the postseason. The Wizards are an extremely dangerous team, with Wall and Beal able to post huge numbers, and a strong record on the road. They could steal a game or two in the postseason to make things interesting.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+25,000 to win the West)
Wow, what a difference between those East and West futures. The T-Wolves are large long shots to win the conference due to the dominance of Houston and Golden State, but there’s plenty of star power on Minnesota’s roster, especially once Jimmy Butler returns from knee surgery in early April. The Timberwolves have two other young standouts in Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and those guys will likely matchup with Golden State or Portland in the opening round.
Minnesota split its two meetings with the Warriors and is 2-2 SU in its four games against the Trail Blazers. The Timberwolves can score with any team in the league but haven’t been able to give the same effort on the defensive end. If they can turn up the intensity in the postseason, the T-Wolves could be in line for an early-round upset win.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+2,000)
On paper, this team should be among the top teams in the NBA – not a 20/1 long shot to win the Western Conference. But, as we’ve seen in the past, all the talent in the world won’t win you championships, and that’s the path OKC would seem to be on. However, there has been an uptick in success for the Thunder since adding pieces at the trade deadline and if all this star power can gel at the right time, Oklahoma City could stir the pot in the West.
The Thunder currently sit fourth in the conference standings, which means a matchup against New Orleans in the opening round. But there’s a lot of wiggle room in the Western pecking order, and OKC could fall to No. 7 or climb as high as No. 3 by the end of schedule. With guys like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George on the floor, the Thunder are one team no one wants to play in the first round.