Which NBA teams will make a run?

2014 NBA Playoffs betting odds predictions Thunder

LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - With the NBA playoffs kicking off today, which underdog offers bettors the best value? Let's take a look.

View John Ryan's Expert Picks

The NBA playoffs are here and start Saturday, April 19, 2014 with the Nets taking on Toronto on Game 1. There is a very big difference this playoff season with very few teams having a solid chance at winning the NBA crown. There are a few dogs worth looking at, but this may be the year to play mostly favorites on series bets  - at least after the first-round matchups have been completed. 

My SIM, based on thousands of simulations, shows that there are few Eastern Conference teams - if any teams - that can win the NBA crown. There are six teams in the West that are ranked higher than then Heat and Pacers, who are tied in my rankings. Those six are the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, Trailblazers, and Warriors in that order. So, although there are few teams in the East I see winning the Trophy, the East will provide the most drama in the first round series. 

Vegas, of course, shows different odds, with the public still very much in love with the two-time defending Champion Miami Heat. Based on my work, the Spurs have nearly a 33% probability of winning the crown with the Thunder and Clippers a distant second with 15 and 13% probabilities respectively. The Heat and Pacers have a 10and 9% probability of winning the crown respectively. 

However, at Bovada, the Heat are lined at a very skinny 2/1 with the Spurs second at 11/4 odds. The simple reason for this disparity in the Vegas odds and my probabilities is that the there are just two teams worth to be considered coming out of the East, and of course, the public view is that Miami will be the East Champion and that in a 7-game series for the crown, the Heat will rise above all opponents. 

The Heat, in many ways, are comparable to Tiger Woods' lines to win each Major; that he is so good that at any time and any place he has the tools to rise above all comers and win. However, his body has been failing him and with new hungry and possibly more talented players on tour, his chances to win are reduced significantly. Yet, the public still backs him with near-rediculous odds. 

The Heat may be in their ;last season together with the Big Three and they are not getting any younger either. Yet, the public inflates their odds with irrational exuberance based on past performances only and not current conditions and matchups. 

So, Obviously, I do not think the Heat have the physicality and bench strength to repeat and quite frankly I do not see them coming out of the East either. So, my recommendation is to stay far away from the Heat and look to play a West team to win the crown. 

Based on my research there are six teams that have a less than 2% probability of winning the crown and less than 6% probability of winning their Conference crown. They are in order of rank, Wizards, Bobcats, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Nets, and Hawks. I have never seen a more top-heavy playoff alignment in the NBA in 20-years, so I feel confident in striking these names off the contenders list. 

However, for a dark horse to win the East, look to the Nets at 9/1 as the a solid sleeper bet. In the West, I just do not see opportunities that I like to play. The Thunder are just to skinny at 2/1 to risk playing, although they are the team I see winning the West. 

So, obviously, I like the Thunder a ton and will risk a 5* play on them at 4/1 to win the NBA Championship. In a season dominated by the Western Conference teams, that Final may be in actuality the World Championship. I don't see the Pacers or the Heat being able to extend a Finals series to six games against the Thunder.

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