The NBA playoffs are underway, and while we are just one game in, it already looks as though we might be in for some more surprises in the bubble. As we saw in the 8-game schedule to end the regular season, not every team has been able to adapt to the new normal, with the top teams in the league looking more than a little wobbly. The LA Lakers came into the season as one of the favorites to win it all, but will they even make it out of the West? Let’s jump right into action so you can make your bets against their NBA odds.
NBA Western Conference Early Winner Prediction
Are the LA Lakers Still the Team to Beat?
The return to play proved to be a bit of an up and down ride for LeBron and the Lakers, but we all believed that they could turn it up a notch when they needed to. We all believed that LeBron, as he has so often done in the past in the playoffs, would carry this team on his shoulders. He still might be able to do that, but a Game 1 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers has made it very clear that the path to the Western Conference final is not going to be a smooth one. We will learn more after Game 2, but for now, the Lakers faithful need to be a little concerned.
Who If Not the Lakers?
No one writing off the Lakers after watching them lose Game 1 to the Trail Blazers, but their performance in the bubble probably has plenty of people looking at other options in the Western Conference. After a bit of a wobbly return after the restart, the Clippers began to put things together, winning 4 of their last 5 to end the regular season. They then went out and beat the Dallas Mavericks 118-110 in Game 1 of their opening round series. They look like a team ready to pounce if things do go south for the Lakers.
Ending the season with 3-staight losses had a lot of people believing that the Denver Nuggets might be in trouble in their opening round series against the Utah Jazz. While the Nuggets were still a little loose on the defensive end of the court, they did manage to put up some big numbers on their way to a 135-125 win over the Jazz. They are going to need to tighten up if they are to make a deep run, but they have an offense that can cause teams a lot of problems.
If there is one team that needs to be considered a dark horse to win the West, it would need to be the Houston Rockets. They have been up and down all season long, ending the regular season on a 3-game losing skid. They looked good in Game 1 against OKC, though, winning 123-108 and doing so without the services of Russell Westbrook, who is out with an injury.
Who Wins the Western Conference?
I think we might be in for a bit of a surprise in the Western Conference, as I believe we might see a surprise team emerge. My head is saying that the Clippers are now the team to beat in this conference, but I am going to be keeping a keen eye on the Houston Rockets.