Who will be the 16 basketball teams to make the NBA Playoffs this season? The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has put out their lines for all 30 possibilities, revealing the shifts a few key player moves can make.
The Western Conference should again be the dominant of the two divisions, and free agent signings in the offseason will make the west even more competitive. With LeBron James going to the Los Angeles Lakers, the storied franchise has a good chance to make the playoffs for the first time in five years.
The Eastern Conference will have more teams with a chance to get into the postseason now that James has left Cleveland and the Cavaliers are not projected to finish in the top eight. Who will get in, however, could be the most interesting subplot of the regular season.
Two Spots Up for Grabs in East
The top three in the Eastern Conference should stay the same as last season, though the order may change. Toronto had the best record in 2018, but they have two lingering questions revolving around new acquisition, Kawhi Leonard, before repeating becomes a foregone conclusion.
The first question mark hovers over Leonard’s health. Is he fully recovered from his right quad injury? All indications are that he is and will be ready to go when the season starts … which leads to the second question of whether or not he wants to play for the Raptors. He didn’t exactly seem thrilled about heading north to Canada, and if the motivation isn’t there, few would be shocked to see his team bounced in the first round.
But they will almost certainly make the playoffs, as will Boston and Philadelphia. James’ old team, Cleveland, will probably finish outside the top eight. They are a +300 to make the postseason, and a -400 not to.
The fourth, fifth and sixth teams will probably be Indiana, Miami and Milwaukee. The Pacers are -600 to make it, +425 to not. Miami is -300 yes, +240 no. The Bucks are -500 yes, +375 no.
So who takes the last two spots? Three teams should battle for the seventh and eighth position. Washington, who made it last year, Detroit and Charlotte. Washington is -450 to make it, and +375 not to. Detroit is -160 yes, +140 no. Charlotte is even money yes, +120 no.
Who Will Get Squeezed Out in West?
With James signing in the offseason with the Lakers, everybody thought they would be a shoo-in to make the playoffs. Not so fast, though. King James will make the team better, yes, but he is still just one man. The unanswered question then is will he have the support around him to carry the Lakers to the postseason. Oddsmakers think so. They have LA as a -500 to make it, and a +375 to not.
So if the Lakers are in, that means someone from last year is out. Staff at the Westgate believe that honor will go to either San Antonio or Minnesota. They were the last two teams to make the playoffs in the Western Conference in 2017-18.
San Antonio lost Leonard to Toronto, but they didn’t have him for most of last year anyway and still managed to grab the seventh spot. They are -150 to make it, +130 to not. With DeMar DeRozan taking Leonard’s place, the Spurs should get to the postseason.
Minnesota has better odds than San Antonio at -180 yes, +150 no, but could get upset by Denver. They finished ninth last year, but the Westgate has them at -400 to make it, and +300 to not.