A Look at the Current NBA Playoff Picture

Dec 29, 2021

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It’s almost the midpoint of the 2021-22 NBA season and already some things are beginning to become clear. Golden State and Phoenix are the two best teams in the league. Brooklyn appears to be the best in the East and there’s little doubt that the Detroit Pistons are headed for another lottery spot.

There have been a few surprises – Cleveland is a big one – and there is still a lot of basketball left to be played. The average NBA team has roughly 47 to 48 games remaining this season. Still, it’s never too early to start looking at the postseason. Here’s a look at the current NBA playoff picture.

The Top Contenders

As mentioned, the two best teams in the NBA right now are both in the Western Conference – Phoenix and Golden State. With the Suns suffering consecutive home losses recently, the Warriors now own the league’s best record at 27-7. Stephen Curry is the NBA’s second-leading scorer and recently broke the career three-pointer record. Golden State has the best defense in the league and is among the top 5 on offense as well. The Warriors are listed at +375 to win this year’s championship.

Phoenix, which played for the NBA title last year, is 26-7 so far this season. The Suns are deep and talented which is why they are listed at +800 to win it all in 2022. The big question for Phoenix will be health. Leading scorer Devin Booker just returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. Then, there is the whole COVID-19 fiasco that has forced the postponement of games around the league.

While Golden State and Phoenix dominate the West, Brooklyn sits atop the Eastern Conference at 23-9 with a 1.5-game lead over Chicago (21-10). The Nets are dealing with their own health issues, but they have won seven of their last ten games. Kevin Durant is the NBA’s leading scorer averaging 29.7 points per game. When healthy, the Nets have one of the best lineups in basketball which is why they are actually the overall favorite to win this year’s NBA title at +325.

The Next Tier

Reigning NBA champion Milwaukee is also among the betting favorites at +800. The Bucks are 23-13 and third in the East behind Chicago. The Bulls, who have won eight of their last ten games, are a longshot to win a title at +2200. Miami has also won eight of ten and is given +1200 odds to win it all.

In the West, two teams to watch are the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies. Utah is 8-2 in its last ten games and 24-9 overall. They are listed at +1200. The Grizzlies just got leading scorer Ja Morant back in the lineup and have won seven of their last ten to move into fourth in the West at 21-14. Memphis is a longshot worth a look at +5000.

The Surprises

With three 7-foot starters, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the fifth-place team in the East at 20-14. The Cavs have the best ATS record in the league at 25-7-2 and they are a longshot to win an NBA title at +6600. Cleveland hasn’t been to the playoffs since making the NBA Finals in 2017-18.

The Los Angeles Lakers are given +1200 odds to win this year’s title, but L.A. is just 16-17 so far this season. The Lakers have had numerous injury issues and they will be missing Anthony Davis for quite a while with an injury. L.A. may have to take part in the play-in tournament once again.