ROUND One of the NBA playoffs is done and dusted and now just eight teams are left standing.
And, if you listen to the online bookmakers, all roads to the NBA title go through Oakland.
The Golden State Warriors (-188.68 with Sportsbet.com.au) and their star-studded line up are still the red hot favourites to win the ‘chip and for good reason.
Their 4-0 series sweep of the Portland Trailblazers – with superstar Kevin Durant missing for much of the series – showed just how dominant they can be.
Packing the firepower of reigning two-time Most Valuable player Steph Curry, his backcourt mate Klay Thompson, the versatile Draymond Green and a solid cast of role players ready to fill the gaps, the Warriors are the deserved favourites after finishing with the best record in the NBA.
The reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers might not have been nearly as impressive as the Warriors, but they still got the job done against the Indiana Pacers in a 4-0 sweep that was a lot closer than the actual result indicates.
The Cavs had to lean heavily on the superb talents of The King, LeBron James to get past the Pacers, but when don’t they?
Any team that features James has to be considered for the title and they are the second pick at $4.50.
They have the talent, with point guard extraordinaire Kyrie Irving, big stretch four Kevin Love and the athletic Tristan Thompson manning the middle, but it remains to be seen if they can defend their 2016 title.
Outside of those two teams, the San Antonio Spurs ($8.50) have to be respected. Any side coached by Gregg Popovic and containing arguably the best two-way player in the game in Kawhi Leonard is always a chance of winning the NBA title.
Leonard single-handedly carried the Spurs past the Memphis Grizzlies in Round One, a team that has always given them problems in the playoffs.
And, with a rejuvenated Tony Parker and brutish big man LaMarcus Aldridge in tow, things look bright for the Spurs.
Speaking of teams who are a sneaky chance of winning the title, the Houston Rockets ($19) have a superstar of their own who appears to be locked and loaded for a tilt at what would be a massive upset.
With James Harden orchestrating one of the most potent offences in the NBA, this team packs enough punch to cause problems for anyone.
And hardly anyone even picked them to make the playoffs.
But Harden, a nightly triple double threat and the second favourite for this year’s MVP award behind Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, has turned a bunch of role players into stars, helping rejuvenate the likes of Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Nene.
Nobody is respecting the Celtics ($17). Nobody. And why would they? Many are calling them the worst number one seed in NBA history. Their superstar Isaiah Thomas is too small. And they don’t rebound.
Yet, when the chips were down, they still had the cojones to get the job done against a rejuvenated Bulls side. And, in case you missed it, they are already 1-0 up in their series against the Washington Wizards – who many are tipping to give them problems.
That might still happen, but the Celtics are still there and still a chance.
Thomas was a marvel, pouring in 33 points in game one after a monstrous series against the Bulls, despite the fact his sister died in a tragic car accident on the eve of the playoffs.
As he has done throughout his career, he willed himself to exceed expectations.
If you’re looking for an outsider with the ability to cause a massive boilover, then John Wall and his Wizards at $36 might just be it.
Wall’s series against the Atlanta Hawks had many asking if he wasn’t the best point guard in the NBA. And while it is a youngish supporting cast, that does not possess a whole lot of playoff experience, if the speed demon can put them on his back, they are capable of great things at long odds.
Shooting guard Bradley Beal has been hot throughout the playoffs and they have received strong contributions from a revolving door of talented players who have been stepping up on any given night.
The Toronto Raptors are, well, the Raptors. Playoffs aren’t exactly their thing. And, if they are going to win the title, they have to make it past the title holders.
Not exactly the best viewing.
At $36, that almost feels under the odds, although the Cavs have had their dramas defensively.
Problem for the Raps is that their key men, back court studs DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have an allergy to performing in the playoffs.
Both men had their struggles in round one, but the Raps were able to overcome the Bucks. If they struggle against the Cavs, there’s no way they can repeat that result.
Speaking of being up against it, the Utah Jazz have to play the Golden State Warriors in the second round.
The plucky Jazz knocked over an injury-riddled Los Angeles Clippers side in game seven, but the Warriors are a whole new ball game.
Gordon Hayward has turned himself into a star, Joe Johnson is the most clutch player in the NBA and an unheralded Aussie named Joe Ingles is making a name for himself.
Of course, that’s all about to change against the Warriors but, at $51, we can only dream.
2017 NBA championship odds
Golden State Warriors ($1.53)
San Antonio Spurs ($8.50)
Boston Celtics ($17)
Houston Rockets ($19)
Toronto Raptors ($36)
Washington Wizards ($36)
Utah Jazz ($51)
Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
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