NBA Playoffs 2019: The NBA season has reached the deep stretch, and it’s all about playoff positioning with just weeks to go in the regular season. This is a different type of season than the NBA has seen in years, with the Milwaukee Bucks rising to the top of the standings.
Event: NBA Playoffs 2019
Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Not only have the Bucks become the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference, but they also have a better record than the Golden State Warriors. That has to say something about this team’s chances of getting through the Eastern Conference playoffs and making a bid at the NBA crown.
The Warriors have regained the top spot in the Western Conference, but they have just a slight advantage over the much-improved Denver Nuggets. While it’s easy to think the Warriors could be in some kind of danger because the Nuggets are just one-half game behind, the likelihood is that Steve Kerr’s team is somewhat bored with the regular season.
That appears to be what the handicappers are thinking, as the Warriors are the 4-9 favorites to win their third straight NBA title and fourth in five years. Here’s a look at the NBA standings, along with the current odds to win the NBA Championship (per VegasInsider).
The Bucks have been the best team in the Eastern Conference all season, but that doesn’t mean they are going to cruise through the playoffs. They have taken a huge step up with a talented roster led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they lost Malcolm Brogdon to a plantar fascia tear, and he is likely to miss six-to-eight weeks as a result, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN.com.
While the loss of Brogdon is a serious blow, it does not have to derail Milwaukee since the team has so much depth to support Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe are mainstays, and newcomer Nikola Mirotic can pick it up in Brogdon’s absence.
The Raptors are clearly a force, and the 76ers have taken a big step up this year. The Pacers can be viewed as overachievers, while the Celtics have had a difficult year. Boston is talented enough to win a series even if they don’t have home-court advantage. If they win as the No. 4 or 5 seed, they will likely have to play the Bucks in the second round.
The Celtics were the favorites in the East at the start of the season, but even with Kyrie Irving leading the way, they have not had the kind of consistency that was expected. If they get it together, they could push the Bucks to seven games, but we don’t see Boston beating Milwaukee on the road in the decisive game. Toronto or Philadelphia will meet the Bucks in the Eastern Final, and the Bucks will prevail.