The NBA postseason is only one day of play-in matches away from officially beginning its playoff bracket.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets are the latest teams to have punched their tickets for the playoffs, while two spots are still available; they will face the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, depending on their conference.
Here is a look at what the oddsmakers are saying about this year’s potential Finals winners.
Phoenix Suns (+270)
The Suns had the best regular-season record and are the most well-balanced team in the league. They are led by the steady guard tandem of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, as well as rising big man Deandre Ayton and defensive Player of the Year candidate Marcus Smart.
Phoenix reached the NBA Finals last year and had a 2-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. Sadly, after that, they lost four straight and were dominated by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As much as it may have hurt, this experience would have been good for a team otherwise bereft of any championship history.
The team also has a better bench. Especially with JaVale McGee, who can now play 20 minutes against Giannis or any other inside specialist along the way.
Milwaukee Bucks (+500)
The Bucks are the favorites to come out of the East once again as their headlining trio of Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday has started to steal the headlines again.
Milwaukee beat the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, and Boston Celtics all in the last few weeks of the season. They are showing that they can stack up favorably against their competition in the conference.
The “Greek Freak” will be hard-pressed to live up to his heroics from last year, but the recent developments he showed in his game, such as running pull-up jumpers and post fadeaways, will make him even more terrifying if he can consistently knock down his shots.
Milwaukee shoots the three well, plays with pace, and has elite defenders, making them an even better postseason than the regular-season team.
Boston Celtics (+700)
The Boston Celtics have split opinions throughout the NBA all season long; they had a losing record around the turn of the year before going on a ridiculous hot streak and securing the East’s second seed. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have elevated their offensive games and played tremendous defense alongside DPOY candidate Marcus Smart.
Boston was first or second in defensive rating for most of the closing months and won a lot of games by 20+ points near the end of the campaign.
There are a couple of big problems that could derail the Celtics’ run to the championship, however, first of all, their offense is, at times, too dependent on Tatum, and this problem could be amplified in the playoffs, where the game slows down, and stars take over.
On top of that, they have to beat the Brooklyn Nets— who have the fourth-best odds to win the title— in the first round of the playoffs, which seems more like a matchup you’d get in the conference finals.