HAS there been a team in US pro sports that has dominated a season more than Golden State in 2015/16?
The Warriors broke the regular-season win record of 73 wins held by the 95-96 Bulls and the reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry led the way, taking his game to a new level, breaking all sorts of individual records along the way.
Not only did the Warriors steal the headlines this season, but Kobe Bryant played his last game on Wednesday and what a performance he bowed out on. The Black Mamba poured in 60 points in front of an ecstatic crowd in what was a fitting tribute to a storied 20-year career.
Now the focus shifts to the playoffs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers topped the eastern conference and the Warriors secured the best record in the west with late-season victories over Memphis and San Antonio. The first series to open up the post-season is Indiana Pacers vs. Toronto Raptors, which is projected to be one of the most closely-fought series in the playoffs.
The opening games of the playoffs start this Saturday and end on Sunday when the Clippers take on the Trail Blazers in what promises to be the best western conference series.
Toronto Raptors (-350) vs. Indiana Pacers (+280)
Raptors record: 56-26
Pacers record: 45-37
The Raptors have the home court advantage due to their superior win record. The Canadian team had one of its best seasons in the history of the franchise with 56 regular season wins and is a true contender to win the eastern conference title.
The Pacers relied mostly on its defense to get into the playoffs in seventh position, but it shouldn’t be discounted as a chance to win this series. Paul George is averaging 23.1 points per game and Monta Ellis can spark up at any time.
The Raptors will look to counter the prowess of George with DeMar DeRozan who is averaging 23.5 points per game and 44.6 percent from the field.
Both teams enter with significant win streaks, but the Raptors will enjoy home advantage and should take this series in five or six games.
Golden State Warriors (-6600) vs. Houston Rockets (+1800)
Warriors record: 73-9
Rockets record: 41-41
We’ll keep this short, much like this series will be. The Houston Rockets somehow managed to make the finals, but we’re predicting it doesn’t last long and the bookmakers agree.
-6600 for the Warriors is one of the shortest priced favourites we will ever see in NBA and it shouldn’t come into doubt here. The Warriors didn’t sweep any team when winning the 2014/2015 title last season, but we think they could sweep the Rockets in four games.
Tip: Warriors 4-0 at +110
Atlanta Hawks (-167) vs. Boston Celtics (+140)
Hawks record: 48-34
Celtics record: 48-34
Both teams finished the regular season on the same record, but the Hawks grab home advantage which could be crucial.
The Hawks ended the season with two losses, one to Washington and the other to Cleveland, which won’t give it confidence heading into the series against Boston, which scored an amazing comeback win to beat the Heat on Tuesday.
The Celtics have shown all season just how tough it is and the win against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland was incredible.
Oklahoma City Thunder (-2000) vs. Dallas Mavericks (+1000)
Thunder record: 55-27
Mavericks record: 42-40
The Thunder had an unusual season filled with inconsistency, but the Dallas Mavericks shouldn’t pose many problems in the first round.
The Mavs’ just scraped through into the playoffs with a 42-40 record thanks to some excellent play from J.J Barea, but that will likely end against the Thunder which are better across the court.
Tip: OKC to advance (-2000)
Cleveland Cavaliers (-1200) vs. Detroit Pistons (+700)
Cavaliers record: 57-25
Pistons record: 44-38
The Cavaliers is the hot favourite to win the eastern conference and we’re predicting it does just that. With LeBron James at the helm, the Cavaliers should progress through to the NBA Finals and the Detroit Pistons won’t get in their way.
Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are quality players, but the Cavs’ will be looking to secure a quick and easy victory in the opening round.
Tip: Cavs to win 4-0 at +260
Miami Heat (-140) vs. Charlotte Hornets (+120)
Heat record: 48-34
Hornets record: 48-34
Both teams have the same record and home advantage lies with the Heat. Without Chris Bosh, the Heat have managed to have a good season and we think the experience of Dwayne Wade will shine in the opening round.
The Heat also boast players such as Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside who is a beast on the block. The Hornets got hot this season, but the lack of big-game experience will show through and it will be better suited to finals basketball next season.
Tip: The Heat to advance Heat (-140)
San Antonio Spurs (-10000) vs. Memphis Grizzles (+3300)
Spurs record: 67-15
Grizzles record: 42-40
-10000 is simply incredible for the Spurs and there is no value in betting that line. The Spurs were great all season and it lost only one game at home.
That isn’t good news for Memphis which is struggling to field a fit team. This series should be over very quickly and the total games option of four looks the way.
Los Angeles Clippers (-275) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (+225)
Clippers record: 53-29
Trail Blazers record: 44-38
The Blazers has a chance to cause an upset in this series, but with Blake Griffin back into the Clippers side, it looks a serious chance of going deep in the playoffs.
The Clippers have had its struggles this season, but ultimately it finished with a good record and it should get past the Trail Blazers in the first round. The -275 price is relatively generous and that should be added to all NBA playoffs parlay bets.
Tip: Clippers to advance (-275)