Breaking Down How Each NBA Playoff Team Can Beat The Warriors

by Doug Murphy
on March 5, 2018

Do you believe your team has a chance to defeat the Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA playoffs? From betting, we know there is always a chance. The Warriors are -170 at the Sports Betting & Online Betting at BetOnline Sportsbook to WIN the NBA Finals!

The next closest odds to win it all come from the Houston Rockets at +325. If the season ended today, Houston would have home court advantage throughout the postseason. They will likely need it if they want to unseat the champions from their throne.

Lebron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers have the next closest odds at +500. The Cavs are only 4.5 games ahead of the Miami Heat for the final remaining playoff slot. They are currently getting past their post-trade excitement hangover as they have lost 3 of their last 5 games.

After the Rockets and Cavs, the next lowest odds to win the Finals come from the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics who come in at +1600. There is good value with both of these teams as we know they will each likely have home court advantage should they play the Cavs in the playoffs.

The remaining playoff contenders’ odds range from +7500 to a whopping +50000.

“So you’re saying there’s a chance?”

Let’s take a snapshot of each possible playoff team’s potential road to the Finals, and how they could displace the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

Toronto Raptors

The dinosaurs to the north are quietly kicking butt again this year. They are currently 1st place in the East by a half of a game over the Celts, and the battle for home-court advantage to the Finals looks to be between these two teams.

Toronto has the best home record in the league at 25-5, and only 3 teams in the conference have a winning record on the road.

Although Toronto is 0-2 vs Golden State this year, they played them close in both contests. DeRozan is a lethal scorer and Kyle Lowry can shoot the three-ball as well as anyone in the league when he’s hot. The Raptors also protect the ball, so the Warriors aren’t likely to create points off turnovers like they did so well against Cleveland last year.

Boston Celtics

Does the “Luck of the Irish” apply to the Boston Celtics? I would like to think so. They were lucky enough to deal an ailing Isaiah Thomas to their conference rivals in return for their all-world point guard Kyrie Irving.

The Celts have the best road record in the East, by far at 21-8. Winning on the road could be their road to the Finals. Home court will help Boston as they should have it for most of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. They have shown this year that they don’t need to be in Boston to win consistently.

The ability to win on the road is imperative in today’s NBA. If the Celtics play the Warriors in the Finals, it is highly likely they will have to win one or maybe even two road games to have a good chance in the series.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The oddsmakers must know something I don’t. I really don’t feel like Cleveland is three times more likely to win the NBA Championship than the Celts or Raptors. They are decent at home, and mediocre at best on the road at 15-15.

With the 3 through 8 seeds still wide open in the East, the Cavs could easily fall to 5th or worse. This would force them to win playoff games away from Cleveland.

Okay, Finals rematch again! The Cavs have lost Kyrie, a legitimate scoring option besides James. They will need the streaky J.R. Smith to enter the flow state and stay there.

As well as sound defense, Cleveland cannot beat themselves with unforced turnovers. Lebron really wants to be the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). If he can lead this Cleveland Cavalier team through Oakland for another NBA championship, he might have a legitimate argument.

Washington Wizards

The big problem here is that John Wall is hurt. The good news is he should be back by April for a stretch run to lock up the 3rd spot in the East.

They match up well with the three Eastern Conference teams previously mentioned. The Wizards are hanging tight without Wall, and his return should significantly boost their play. They win just as many games away from home as they do when they are back in D.C.

Hypothetically, let’s say the Wiz make it to the NBA Finals opposite the Warriors. John Wall plays great defense and if he could somehow shut down Steph Curry, the Wizards can win. They might need Klay Thompson to go cold as well.

Indiana Pacers

Victor Oladipo! I just love saying this guy’s name. I think it’s Kenny Smith from TNT that feels the same way. This man is improving his skills and maturing as the season presses onward.

The Pacers have shown they can play with the top teams in the East, so they could make a push for the finals. If they did, the Pacers would have to continue to force turnovers while protecting the ball themselves.

The Pacers are +1.5 in turnover margin this year, with the Warriors surprisingly at a -2 turnover margin. It will be tough for the Pacers to simply outgun the top guns.

Philadelphia 76ers

These guys can beat anyone on a given night. Joel Embiid and company recently put away Lebron and the Cavs.

They are 2nd in the league in opponent’s FG%. This may be their key to win if they want to challenge the Warriors. Golden State leads the NBA in shooting at 51%.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Greek Freak leads a Bucks team right now as they are playing for a spot in the playoffs.

On paper, this is a very mediocre team. There aren’t any particular stats that jump off the page for them. The only thing jumping off the page is the Greek Freak. His name is very long, so we will just go with Freak.

He may be a top player in the NBA in a few years. So, the best chance Milwaukee has at making a finals run and beating Golden State would be Giannis pulling a Wilt Chamberlain and scoring 100 points.

Miami Heat

The Heat are 4th in the NBA in opponent’s points per game allowing only 102 per contest. They would need this defense to keep them in ball games as they only score 101/game.

The Warriors are first in the NBA putting up 116 ppg. The Miami Heat will have to continue to play shutdown defense, and force extra turnovers from the sometimes careless Golden State Warriors.

Detroit Pistons

If the playoffs started today, the Detroit Pistons wouldn’t make it. They are only 4 games behind the Heat, so a playoff berth is well within sight. The Detroit Pistons have one of the most well-rounded starting fives in basketball.

Blake Griffin is a game-changer on both ends of the floor. If they were to challenge the Warriors, Blake would have to overachieve while his teammates continued playing unselfishly with balance.

Charlotte Hornets

The Queen City Bees, as they are often called down south, would love to shock in the playoffs this year. Charlotte is in the top ten in the NBA in 3PT shooting percentage. They would need to stay hot in order to compete in the playoffs and possibly against the #1 3PT shooting Golden State Warriors.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets have the best backcourt in the NBA with Chris Paul and James Harden.

Houston has the highest chance to dethrone the Dubs this year. The Rockets lead the league with a margin of victory of 8.8 points/game. The Warriors are a close second at 8.6.

Houston is the only team in the league that can score points right along with the Warriors. If James Harden can find the strength in his soul to play better defense, the Rockets could beat Golden State and win the NBA Finals.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota’s NBA Finals chances have been severely hindered by the injury to Jimmy Butler. He is the leader of his team and the leading scorer. The young Karl Anthony Towns has embraced his new role as the first scoring option.

If they want to beat the Warriors, Butler’s replacement Jamal Crawford will have to get really hot. He’s been a streaky player his whole career and has the ability to score big and often. Minnesota will need it because no other team scores as early and often as the Dubs of Golden State.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers only have 3 players averaging double digits in points per game. Lillard is a monster, but he will need some help especially from the front-court.

Portland is 4th in the NBA in 3PT %. They will need this superior shooting in a series with Golden State as the Warriors are 1st. The Blazers rank 5th in the NBA in opponent’s FG%, so we know they challenge shots. As we now, there are no other shots that need more challenging than those from the Splash Bros and company.

San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio protects the ball better than the Warriors and is a slightly better rebounding team.

The Spurs are also the only team in the league that allows less than 100 ppg. Compare that with Golden State giving up 107.6/game, and we see the biggest difference in the two squads.

The team’s star Kawhi Leonard has been battling a quadriceps injury, but will likely be returning to action this month. He will bolster the Spurs as they look to climb the Western Conference ladder.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans stat that jumps out at me is their team FG%. They are shooting 48% which is good enough for second in the league. Guess who’s #1. Yes, the Dubs, of course.

The New Orleans starting 5 are all averaging at least 12 ppg. The Pelicans size and versatility in the frontcourt is unmatched in the NBA. Cousins and Davis will have to exploit bad matchups and continue to get high percentage attempts if they want to challenge Golden State.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Here is a team that nobody seems to be talking about anymore. At the beginning of the season, many experts had the Thunder finishing ahead of the Rockets. That doesn’t at all look like it’s going to be the case this year.

OKC has the talent and pure scoring options to play with Golden State. Will they be able to get their chemistry right before the playoffs? Time will tell, but they have definitely underachieved thus far.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are currently hanging on to the last playoff spot by a half of a game. Other Houston and Golden State, the Nugs have the best home record in the Western Conference. That altitude is no joke.

To beat the Warriors, they would obviously need to win a road game. They may only need one, though, because they play so well in that thin air.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are +50000 to win the NBA Finals this year. It isn’t very likely at all.

They are only 2.5 games back of the Blazers current Western Conference position of 3rd place. We still have 20 games to play in the regular season, so much can change from now until then.

The best shot the Clippers have at beating Golden State is hoping Durant or Curry gets injured. LA is very mediocre on paper. They have won 7 of their last 10 games, so they can still secure a high seed in the playoffs.

Utah Jazz

The Jazz is just 2 games back from the Nuggets right now. They rebound the ball well and have 7 players averaging double figures in ppg. Golden State surprisingly only has 4 players averaging double digits.

If 5 of those 7 can be consistent while 2 players get hot each game, then the Jazz will have a shot at the Warriors.

So, what did we learn today about the teams that can dethrone the Warriors? Well, there aren’t many of those teams. I did all I could to give you each team’s best opportunity to take out Golden State.

The Charlotte Hornets are +50000 to win the Finals while the Warriors are sitting at -170.

Houston will have the best chance by far.

I don’t think anyone in the East will give the Warriors problems. This includes the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.

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