With the much-anticipated postseason right around the corner, basketball fans across the country are bracing themselves for a whirlwind few months. While the Miami Heat are the obvious favorites in the NBA betting world, it’s relative chaos from that point forward.
Simply put, if you can pull yourself away from South Beach for a game or two, prepare to be amazed.
In order to fully appreciate the parity in the league, it’s important to acknowledge that LeBron James and company are truly in a league of their own. The Heat have 2-3 odds of winning the NBA championship, a mark considerably more impressive than the next challenger (the Oklahoma City Thunder at 9-2). We get it, LeBron, and we accept it. Now let’s move on to the rest of the pack, where the postseason is shaping up to be one for the ages.
Not only has the Kobe Bryant injury effectively neutered the Los Angeles Lakers in their bid for the 2013 championship, it’s opened up the entire Western Conference. The Thunder have their hurdles to overcome — are they a team capable of winning four games in a hard-fought Finals series? The Spurs, as well, have questions that need answering — just how long can their window stay open?
While plenty of teams could hypothetically walk away from the half of the bracket with the Western Conference Championship, it all comes down to who will. At this stage, despite San Antonio’s experience and depth, OKC holds the advantage, having competed against and defeated the Spurs in 2012.
Such acknowledgement of the Spurs and Thunder as the West’s superpowers isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of sleeper-worthy franchises filling out the field. Both the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies have demonstrated an ability to reach beyond the first round. The Houston Rockets, too, powered by James Harden and Jeremy Lin, will be a matchup nightmare for any team that crosses their path.
Considering that the Rockets sit at just 100-1 on the NBA futures, it’s hard not to get excited about the possibilities that lie in store.
In the East, aside from Miami, there has emerged a three-headed monster, hungry for the next top spot in the conference. The New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets have all spent time showcasing why it’s them, and not their peers, that are most worthy of challenging the Big Three, but nobody’s quite sure of what to make of them.
In addition, the veteran Celtics and inconspicuous Bulls are always capable of making things happen when spring rolls around. Ready to rule out a healthy Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce? Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls?