The NBA Playoffs officially tip off this weekend, and we have quite a few intriguing matchups in the Western Conference. Will the Golden State Warriors make it back-to-back seasons of winning the NBA Title? Can the Phoenix Suns dethrone the Warriors and secure a championship led by Kevin Durant and Devin Booker? So buckle up because the Western Conference playoffs will be the Conference to keep your eyes on. Below are two Western Conference futures bets to make now and my first-round series best bets!
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Western Conference Futures
Phoenix Suns +500
It is no secret that the Phoenix Suns catapulted themselves as the odds-on favorites to come out of the Western Conference. The Suns added Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA, at the trade deadline. As a result, this created one of the best dynamic duos in the Western Conference. Let’s also not forget the Suns also have future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul already on the roster.
Additionally, the Suns made it to the NBA Finals a few seasons ago and fell short. Sure, it’s not the same roster, but when you add a superstar player like Kevin Durant to this roster, you automatically boost yourself to be a serious title contender and NBA title favorite.
Health is the biggest obstacle for the Suns to win the NBA Title. Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton missed significant time during the regular season. However, with Kevin Durant in the lineup alongside Devin Booker, the Suns went 8-0 during the regular season. As I mentioned above, if this team can stay healthy during the Western Conference Playoffs, I fully expect to see them in the NBA Finals.
Golden State Warriors +950
In any sport, winning a championship in back-to-back seasons is difficult. However, if there is a team that can “flip the switch,” it is the defending champions. Yes, the Warriors struggled mightily on the road during the regular season, where they posted a record of 11-30. However, this team’s experience making runs to the NBA Finals and winning titles gives them an advantage.
Furthermore, the Warriors get Andrew Wiggins back after being away from the team dealing with a personal matter. The Warriors missed him, especially on the defensive end of the court. Additionally, the Warriors traded for Gary Payton II during the trade deadline after he left in free agency to sign with the Portland Trailblazers.
The roster remains the same from last season, and having the two defensive anchors in Wiggins and Payton II back, there is value here on the Warriors. Oh, by the way, the three core players on this team, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, are healthy and ready to defend their title.
NBA Western Conference 1st Round Series Best Bets
(2) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers
Arguably the Lakers have two of the top five players in the league on their roster when healthy. Anthony Davis‘s health is always a question mark, but both LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy coming into this series against the Grizzlies. We know both star players for the Lakers will leave their mark on this series.
The Lakers made key trades at the trade deadline to bolster the roster by trading for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jared Vanderbilt, and Rui Hachimura. The key will be, can the Lakers get consistent shooting from these players? Furthermore, I believe Austin Reaves will be pivotal for the Lakers. Reaves had a fantastic post-all-star break season.
The Memphis Grizzlies come into this series with the best home record in the entire NBA at 35-6. If the Grizzlies take care of homecourt in this game, they will win this series. Let’s not forget the Grizzlies were on the brink of ousting the Warriors last season in the playoffs if it wasn’t for an injury to Ja Morant.
The Grizzlies are a gritty bunch of players. The area I believe the Grizzlies lack is having a consistent scorer after Ja Morant. Do I have faith that Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr can provide help to Morant? Yes? But Jaren Jackson Jr. finds himself in foul trouble more often than not. Likewise, Brooks’s shooting, or lack thereof, makes me nervous.
At the end of the day, I can see this series going to seven games, but not having Steven Adams in this series will and could be the determining factor. If Anthony Davis has a monster series, I believe the Lakers can “upset” the Grizzlies in the Western Conference First Round.
Best Bets: Lakers To Win Series +120
(3) Sacramento Kings vs. (6) Golden State Warriors
Congratulations to the Sacramento Kings for ending the longest playoff drought! The Kings last made the playoffs in the 2005-2006 season, and here they are, led by Mike Brown, as the three seed in the West. Your reward? You get to host the defending NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors.
The Golden State Warriors were one the worst road teams in the NBA this season. The defense on the road was also one of the worst in the league this year. However, I can not bet against this Warriors team when they are healthy and have their “Big 3” on the floor. The Warriors possess the makeup of a championship team.
As mentioned above, the Warriors get Andrew Wiggins back after being away from the team. One player who was an excellent pick-up for the team in the offseason was Donte DiVincenzo. DiVincenzo was exceptional in his role for the team, whether he was coming off the bench or starting for the Warriors. The experience, coaching, and championship pedigree give the Warriors the advantage in this series.
Is there a case to be made for the Sacramento Kings? Of course! The Kings finished as the three seed in the West for a reason. They possess the young star talent in De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. I believe the Kings have to win game one to have a shot at winning this series. As I mentioned above, the Warriors were one of the worst teams in the NBA on the road this season. The Kings have to defend their home court.
Additionally, I am looking at Mike Brown to make the adjustments needed to beat this Warriors team. Yes, he is familiar with the Warriors as an assistant coach before he was hired as the head coach for the Kings. But, if the Kings can not defend their home court, this may be a shorter reason than people expect. Ultimately, I think the Warriors’ offensive firepower and ability to shoot themselves back into a game will be the difference. The Warriors will win this Western Conference first-round matchup!
Best Bet: Warriors To Win Series -275 and Warriors in 6 +230
(4) Phoenix Suns vs. (5) Los Angeles Clippers
This series was one of the easier ones for me to predict, so I will keep it short and simple. As I mentioned above, I love this Suns’ team to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. They have the experience to make the run and added Kevin Durant to this roster.
Additionally, the Clippers will miss Paul George in this series due to a knee injury he suffered 2-3 weeks ago. More so, I do not trust anyone on the Clippers roster outside of Kawhi Leonard. We know Kawhi will get him, but there are serious questions about who will step up for this team. The Clippers brought in Russell Westbrook to round out the “big 3,” but I do not trust Westbrook in the playoffs, especially in a clutch time in the playoffs.
The Clippers have supporting role players on their team, but without Paul George and the question marks on who will step up for the Clippers give me serious pause. Furthermore, I do not believe the Clippers have the perimeter defense to defend Booker and Durant. Furthermore, I also think Ayton will have a big series against the Clippers. Ultimately, the Suns will be too much for the Clippers to handle in the Western Conference first round.
Best Bets: Series Total Games Under 5.5, Suns in 5 +240
(1) Denver Nuggets vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves
The Denver Nuggets come into this playoffs with a healthy team. Last season, the Nuggets were without their second and third-best players, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. The Nuggets finished as the #1 seed in the Western Conference this season led by reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. Each team won two games during the season however in one matchup the Nuggets sat all of their star players.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will have their hands full during to defend Nikola Jokic who can do it all. The Nuggets have pressure on them to have a successful playoff run but I don’t think they will struggle against the Nuggets. Simply put, I believe the offensive firepower of the Timberwolves will be too much to handle for Anthony Edwards and Co.
It still feels like the Timberwolves are trying to figure out how Rudy Gobert and Karl Anthony-Towns can play together on the floor. There is a significant discrepancy in offensive efficiency when Rudy Gobert is on the floor and off the floor. Simply bet, I don’t believe the Timberwolves have enough offense to keep up with the Nuggets.