The theme for the 2017 NBA postseason has to be “inevitable”. It simply feels like we're headed towards an NBA Finals rubber match between Golden State and Cleveland. Sure, San Antonio will have something to say about that and Boston might even have home court in the East but most NBA fans are bracing themselves for Warriors / Cavs III.
So is there anybody that can dethrone these heavy favorites? Speaking of favorites the oddsmakers have set the Warriors at 5/11 which would indicate it's Golden State's championship to lose. The Warriors have won 14 straight down the stretch and that's even without getting Kevin Durant back in the flow of things.
There are a few teams that would love nothing more than to derail the inevitable championship parade scheduled for June in the Bay Area. Somehow San Antonio has almost flown under the radar this year but they're still 15/2 odds for the NBA title and seemingly have just as good a chance as any team to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.
As per usual, the Western Conference playoffs are set to be much more exciting on paper as the counterparts in the Eastern Conference. We've got the top two MVP candidates in Russell Westbrook and James Harden who could easily single-handedly carry their teams to a deep postseason run. There's the veteran-laden Clippers squad that has won 5 straight to close out the year. Even the 7/8 seeded Grizzlies and Trailblazers have what it takes to potentially draw out a 1st round series.
Cleveland is set at whopping 5/16 odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. That number might not even waver if the Cavs were to lose out on home court to the Celtics, who are a 15/2 bet to represent the East in the NBA Finals. A Cleveland/Boston Eastern Conference Finals series could be epic but does any other team have a chance at earning a spot there?
To be honest the rest of the East is pretty abysmal. Well, aside from Toronto and Washington who both actually match up pretty well against Cleveland. Beyond the Wizards and Raptors, however, are a bunch of mediocre teams who can't be expected to put up much of a fight in their first round series'. The Hawks, Bucks, Pacers, and Bulls/Heat might steal a game or even two in their respective playoff series' but none should be a real upset threat.
Both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals are set up to be gruelling 6 or 7 game series'. The question remains then which team has enough fortitude left to go one more round. If the Finals comes down to Golden State and Cleveland which it looks like it's inevitably going to do, it's hard to see the Cavs matching Golden State's talent and depth.
The Warriors have looked human at times this year, but the Cavs have had their own inefficiencies. Then again, there's a little 3-1 blown lead to atone for in last year's NBA Finals. It's not a groundbreaking statement, but it truly is Golden State's title to lose.