On April 22, 2019, in Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed

Here we go again.  The top 16 teams of the NBA square off in a 6 week long annual festival of professional basketball in the USA called ‘The Playoffs’. Although basketball is now played almost worldwide at the professional level, the National Basketball Association Playoffs are considered to be the games in which the best team in the world is crowned champions.

It takes awhile. Each tier consists of a best of 7 series with travel days after two or three games so that each team plays at least two games before their own home crowd.  Normally they will play two games in the city whose team has the best overall record, then take a day for travel, play two game away, take another travel day and finish off the series at home, if necessary.

The powerhouses in the West should come as no surprise to anyone who follows professional basketball. The Golden State Warriors led by Seth Curry with an All Star supporting cast are once again the odds on favorites to win the NBA crown for 2019.  As a matter of fact, the Warriors are the only NBA team going into the finals with negative numbers at -250.

James Harden’s Houston Rockets seem to be the only other team in the West expected to be there for the final rounds of the playoffs this year.  Las Vegas oddsmakers are listing the Rockets as +200 to win the Western Conference Championship and just +380 to win it all. That places them third behind the Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks with only the Toronto Raptors remaining under +1000 at +650.

Among teams making a strong showing at the beginning of the playoffs are the Boston Celtics who have just taken four games straight from Indiana to eliminate the Pacers for this year. The Philadelphia 76ers have so far looked very strong beating the Brooklyn Nets 3 out of the first four games and sitting pretty to advance to the next round.

The Toronto Raptors are also off to a good start taking 3 out of 4 from the Orlando Magic after losing the first contest by three points. As expected, the Milwaukee Bucks have taken 3 in a row from the Detroit Pistons and sit poised to advance as well.

The Warriors are out in front of their instate rivals LA Clippers though the Clips did take game two 135-131.  Golden State is expected to move on along with the Portland Trail Blazers who are 3-1 up on the Oklahoma Thunder after the first four games of the series.

What’s missing this year?  For the first time in 14 years the NBA Playoffs are proceeding without super star LeBron James.  Loads of pro star power still on the court, but no LBJ!

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