With the NBA season starting next week, now is a good time to take a look at the upcoming season and get a feel for who might be the last team standing come next June. Unfortunately for fans’ of teams other than the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, you haven’t had a team in the finals to root for these last three seasons, and most sharp minds believe we could see the match-up for a 4th time this season. Though the Warriors and Cavaliers are the early favorites, they don’t have it wrapped up yet, and each have a couple teams that could pose a problem for them in their respective conferences. Using NBA betting lines let’s take a look at the three biggest threats in each conference.
Boston Celtics: odds +220
-Celtics shook things up landing Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving as potential superstars and adding a top pick in Jayson Tatum and a quality vet in Marcus Morris as well. Despite shipping out a number of key players from last year’s team, the Celtics still have solid depth and definitely have more superstar power. If Tatum makes a quick jump to reach his potential this team could be scary good and definitely a legitimate threat to unseat the Cavs in the East.
Milwaukee Bucks: odds +1800
-The Bucks really didn’t add anyone this offseason, but they also didn’t lose any key players as well. What makes them a threat is this team is stocked with some impressive young players led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker that should just continue to get better and better. The key here will be continued development and hoping that Jabari Parker can come back from his injury and be a force. They have pretty nice depth as well and can challenge teams that are maybe too top heavy.
Washington Wizards: odds +2000
-The Wizards shuffled around their bench this offseason and it remains to be seen if they got any deeper in the process. Currently they have one of the better starting line-ups with two stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal and three good players supporting them. Wall has ascending his game to top 10-15 level and arguably he’s now the best player in the East outside of Lebron. The road is a bit tougher for the Wizards because it feels like they need more help, but they are still very dangerous to the Cavs.
Houston Rockets: odds +700
-The Rockets sent a lot of their secondary players and role players in a deal to land Chris Paul, giving them a second superstar to go along with James Harden. Houston will need to rely on those two to carry the load this year as they are a lot thinner of a line-up going forward. They still have a couple other solid players, but it will really need to be the Harden and Paul show if they are going to get over the Warriors.
San Antonio Spurs: odds +700
-Not much really changed for the Spurs as basically they lost Jonathan Simmons, but added Ruy Gay in what should be a net win for San Antonio. Outside of that they are bringing back their core and key contributors, and are a pretty deep team in overall talent. At this point Leonard is their only true superstar, but they have a lot of good players around him and depth for a solid 2nd unit. The key for the Spurs this year will be health in the post season as they were without both Leonard and Tony Parker for too many games in last year’s playoffs that they didn’t have a chance.
Oklahoma City Thunder: odds +800
-The Thunder had an early exit in the postseason last year and went to work this offseason reshaping their roster. They added superstars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to Russell Westbrook, giving them arguably the best “big three” in the league. Steven Adams and Andre Roberson round out one of the best starting 5’s in the league making them a real threat to the Warriors. The concern here for the Thunder is that their depth took a major hit this offseason in swinging these trades and there is nothing they can count on beyond the starters. That could make it tougher to win a tough playoff series if every game their bench is getting dominated.