5 NBA Teams Poised to Make the Finals in 2018

The NBA season has at least one more game left in it before it’s all wrapped up, as the Cleveland Cavaliers will try and avoid a deciding fourth game loss to the Golden State Warriors in game five of the NBA Finals Monday in Oakland.

With the Warriors up 3-1, it seems easy to think ahead already to next season, and what’s going to happen in the NBA landscape with teams making trades, free agent pickups and draft picks.

If you check out online basketball betting odds from CrownBet, you can see that it will again be the Warriors and Cavs as heavy favorites to meet next season.

That’s not going to stop other NBA teams from looking to shorten the gap, and today we look at five teams that are poised to try and make it to the promised land of the NBA Finals in 2018.

1. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs were the closest thing in the West to giving the Warriors a run for their money but key injuries, when it mattered the most, derailed their run to playing the Cavs. Look for much of the same from the Spurs, and they should be right back at the top in the West, and will give the Warriors a fight to the Finals as long as they are healthy.

2. Boston Celtics

The club that met up with the Cavs in the East Finals, they too were hit with the injury bug as they lost superstar guard Isaiah Thomas early in the series. They were no match for LeBron James and company, losing a game at home so badly they trailed by 50 at one point. Expect Boston Celtics with the first pick to make a deal to get more picks and players down the road. They will be a healthy force again in the East.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

The window on this super talented team is closing, and this might be the last run for a Clippers team that many felt were going to be the Warriors of the mid 2010’s. The team with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin might have to say, ‘so long’ after next year; patience is growing thin for Los Angeles Clippers, who keep falling short. Look for a focused group to make another run in the West, but again to fall short.

4. Toronto Raptors

This was a team that took the Cavs to six games in the East Finals two years ago, and with DeMar DeRozen, Kyle Lowery and maybe a piece in free agency or the draft, expect Toronto to be a club that is going to get overlooked but be a team that will put up a fight in the East.

5. Milwaukee Bucks

This is a dark horse for sure, but a surprise team that reached the postseason and gave the Raptors a fight. Don’t assume the Bucks are going to go away quietly, and they might be the most up and coming team in the group of five that with a player or two added will only be better next season.

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Is Russell Westbrook A Shoo-In For The Regular Season MVP Award?

With the regular season now in the books, attention turns to the hotly contested battle for the coveted NBA title. As of April 25th, defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers are looking strong but the Golden State Warriors, led by controversial free agency signing Kevin Durant, might just be THE team to beat in the championship fight.

Plenty of questions will be asked between now and the end of the playoffs but one thing is for sure: the regular season MVP is still up for grabs. It sounds bizarre to suggest this after the campaign is over but there are a handful of viable candidates for basketball’s prestigious individual award.

Russell Westbrook

Right now, you’d have to put Russell Westbrook at the head of the field. When Durant left Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason, fans went into meltdown. Westbrook has coped with the added pressure incredibly well, recording career-high statistics in a number of very important categories. To put his form into perspective, he has notched 42 triple-doubles; 20 more than his nearest challenger.

Statistically, he is the MVP and the man most widely expected to win it. Westbrook has matured into an elite, consistent star at the top of the NBA and he knows it. He is confident and carries a swagger but remains grounded and that is key to his success; both on and off the court. Averaging 31.6 points per game, he is in a class of his own and he deserves the MVP award.

James Harden

You could argue that Harden is Westbrook’s main rival for the Most Valuable Player honor this year. The Houston Rockets man has been simply sublime at Toyota Center and a playoff series win against Westbrook’s City Thunder could bolster his chances of pipping his peer to the award. At the time of writing, the Rockets are just one win away from reaching the next round and Harden, who played through injury in Game 4, can lead them to glory.

He has recorded career-high figures in terms of points per game, rebounds and assists this year – showing just how important he is on both offense and defense. Any other year and Harden probably wins the award with ease but Westbrook’s stat-line is solid. Every Houston fan will have their fingers and toes crossed ahead of June’s announcement.

LeBron James

A legend of the sport, LeBron James is still up there with the best in the business. At 32 years old, he is approaching his twilight years but the Cleveland star is still able to influence matches on a regular basis – and that is what separates great players from the good. The four-time regular season MVP winner has had an exceptional year but his previous efforts could work against him; he has been even better in the past.

Whether you like James or not, you have to respect his achievements. He has been there and done it all in the NBA and a second Cavaliers success could be on the cards. Would he trade individual glory for a shot at back-to-back NBA titles? Of course he would. His main goal this year is to ensure that the championship stays in Cleveland for another year.

Kawhi Leonard

The outsider of the quartet, Kawhi Leonard has really stepped up to the plate since Spurs legend Tim Duncan retired last season. The San Antonio man has carried Gregg Popovich’s men through matches at times this year and his 25.5 points per game average is almost 10 points per game higher than his career median; a statistic that shows just how influential and effective he has been in 2017.

Leonard doesn’t receive the same recognition as say James or Golden State star Stephen Curry but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t. If the Spurs go deep into the postseason, the 25-year-old might make a stronger impression and that can only help his chances of earning a shock MVP success.

The NBA’s Real Season Gets Underway As the Playoffs Are Set to Kickoff

The NBA’s ‘second season’ is about to kickoff, as the playoffs are set to begin in a city near you on Saturday, as 16 teams will be fighting for the right to be called the champions of the world of the NBA in the 2016-17 season.

Last season the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame the Basketball Betting odds, becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit, stopping the Golden State Warriors and stunning the basketball world by winning a 7th and final game in Oakland to win their first NBA Title and finally giving Cleveland its first title in over 50 years.

Things haven’t gone so smoothly for the Cavs this season, as they have dropped 14 of their last 25 games to end the year, and while many feel they will still overcome the Indiana Pacers in the first round starting on Saturday in Cleveland, the luster of the Cavs is off, and they are much more beatable than they were a season ago when they entered the postseason on a high note.

The Boston Celtics are the team that many feel will be the team that eventually outplays the Cavs in the East, as with guard Isaiah Thomas the team secured the first seed, and will play at home until they are done, meaning they have the edge over any other team in the conference.

Moving on to the West, it’s going to be a blast to watch a number of teams fight it out for the right to take on the top team in the East.

The Golden State Warriors are thought of by many as still the team to beat in the NBA, and once again they will enter the playoffs with the first seed in the West and the NBA for that matter.

They recently got back Kevin Durant, and that’s a huge key for a team that is hungry after being stunned by Cleveland a year ago in falling in the 7th and final game in Oakland in stunning fashion.

The San Antonio Spurs are another team that has to be accounted for, a team that also is hungry after getting knocked out early last season before they could get to the Western Conference Finals against Golden State.

This year the Spurs have revenge on their minds, and it looks like as things are lining up, a Warriors-Spurs Western Conference Finals are sure to be must see TV as the playoffs move on.

Anything else out of the West would be a complete letdown, something we missed out on a season ago, and something NBA fans are dying to see in the coming weeks as the playoffs take their true shape.

‘NBA Playgrounds’ Is Like A Modern Day ‘NBA Jams’

NBA Playgrounds

Growing up, I was addicted to basketball video games.. Jordan vs. Bird: One on One, Arch Rival, Super High Impact, and of course, NBA Jam!

Now, developer Saber Interactive is reviving that retro appeal with an upcoming video game, NBA Playgrounds. Dropping next month for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC for $20 (via download), NBA Playgrounds brings back that two-on-two, fast-paced, fun, arcade style basketball game that we all know and love.

The game’s officially licensed by the NBA, so we’re set to see both active and inactive players. Players like Allen Iverson face off against Steph Curry and George Hill in the trailer, and who knows, we may get classic teams like Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the mix too.

The game is developed by Saber Interactive, whose CEO Matt Karch is calling it accessible enough for anyone to pick up and play, but still has a lot of depth for the hardcore player. Apparently, it contains hundreds of dunks and moves to perform in your pursuit of the net.

As you can see in the trailer above, there’s plenty of over-the-top dunks and slick moves to pull off as players display crazy acrobatic kills on many different playgrounds across the world. I can’t wait for this!

A Cavaliers-Warriors Round Three in the NBA Finals No Longer a Sure Thing

As the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated their first NBA Title last June, there wasn’t many that didn’t think that the Cavs along with the team they defeated in the NBA Finals in seven games, the Golden State Warriors, wouldn’t be right back in the same position in June of 2017.

Just about all Basketball Betting Sites had the Cavs and Warriors ready to go for the rubber match in the 2017 NBA Finals, and while that still very much may happen, it looks like the roads to the finals for each team isn’t going to be the pushover it may have been the last two seasons.

Cleveland is clinging to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and with teams like the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards breathing down their necks, the Cavs are clearly in their most prone position since LeBron James came back to Cleveland two years ago.

The Cavs defense has been a HUGE problem as of late, including losing to the Wizards Saturday allowing a whopping 71 points in the first half and 127 in the game.

“The big thing for us is at least we don’t have to play back-to-backs in the playoffs,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue after his team lost for the seventh time in the last 12 games.

“I was upstairs talking to the coaches before I came down, and they said we played 21 games last year [in the playoffs] in two months. This month, we have 17 alone in one month, so it’s a tough stretch, but everyone is going through it right now.”

How bad is the Cavs defense as of late? Consider they are the second-worst defensive team in the league since the All-Star break, ahead of only the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now for the Warriors, who everyone felt would breeze to the Finals with the addition of one of their biggest rivals, Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder. It’s not been a cakewalk by any means, and while they are two games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the West, there’s plenty of work to be done.

Steph Curry and Golden State have shown cracks they didn’t show the last two seasons, and unlike last year when Curry was able to throw up shots all day and hit them, this season it’s not been that way.

Golden State as of late have lost to teams like the Spurs as well as Minnesota Timberwolves, who dealt them a rare loss that afterwords had players like Andre Iguodala shaking his head.

“Just play harder. Figure it out. Change gonna come. You know what we used to say. Change gonna come,” Iguodala said.

In the loss to the Wolves earlier in March, Curry was 1 for 8 from 3-point range against the Wolves and is 18 for 76 from long distance in March.

So while we still may be seeing the Cavs and Warriors again in June, both teams have plenty to figure out along the way. It will be interesting what team cracks first.

The NBA Isn’t Happy With the Cavs Sitting Three Key Starters in Saturday’s Nationally Televised Game

The Cleveland Cavaliers are doing what’s best for them, and right now the NBA is none too happy about it.

Yes, the league has again reared it’s head into the business of their NBA Champions, as reports state the league is ticked off for Cleveland sitting stars LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving after all three sat out Saturday in their 30-point loss on ABC against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Online casino gambling rightfully so had the Cavs as heavy underdogs going into the game, and losing by 30 doesn’t look good for the league after last week most of the starters due to various reasons didn’t play in the San Antonio-Golden State game in another nationally televised ABC game that was a yawn fest.

So today the league took it upon themselves to contact the Cavs to voice their displeasure about none of the big three playing, as Cavs general manager David Griffin confirmed to ESPN that the league did indeed talk to the team about not playing James, Love and Irving.

Cleveland general manager David Griffin told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the league office called him shortly after the team announced its decision Saturday.

“Yeah, they were not happy,” Griffin said.

But the GM also said it isn’t his job to appease the league and its television partners (which include ESPN).

“Yeah, and they’re paying me to win a championship,” he told Shelburne. “I’m not overly concerned about the perception of it. We literally had one guy rest tonight, and everybody else was reasonably injured, so I don’t feel like we did anything terribly egregious.”

Fans pay big time cash (even more so in a place like Los Angeles) to see a player like James play, since he only plays there once a season, which could be why it’s not good for the image of the league for them to have the champs sit three big players at once.

Griffin does have a valid point though, as it’s not up to the Cavs to care about what the league thinks about a meaningless March regular season game when there’s bigger fish to fry in the postseason.

Start fining teams for not playing their best players and you open up a total can of worms on what’s right and wrong when it comes to the league.

It’s not the first time this season the Cavs have sat their big three starters in a game, and it likely won’t be the last. And frankly, there’s really nothing the league can do about it.

Andrew Bogut Fractures Left Tibia In First Minute of Playing With Cavaliers

Andrew Bogut’s debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers was a short-lived one, fracturing his left tibia 58 seconds after he took to the court.

Bogut, the team’s new center, broke his left leg in the second quarter and had to be assisted off the floor and to Cleveland’s locker room. The 7-footer could not put any weight on his leg as he was helped by his new teammates James Jones and Tristan Thompson, who moments earlier had cheered along with fans in Quicken Loans Arena when Bogut checked in for the first time.

The Cavaliers said initial X-rays revealed a fractured left tibia. Bogut is at the Cleveland Clinic undergoing further tests. The team went on to lose, 106-98 — their second loss to the Heat in three nights.

LeBron James said he knew immediately that Bogut’s injury was serious.

“I heard it break,” he said. “I heard it crack.”

Ouch.. With Bogut out, I’m not so sure how the Cavs will fare this season. I’m sticking with bingo instead. Join the fun with this Gala Bingo promo code.