The 2019/20 NBA season is starting to reach a climax and, with less than two months left until the playoffs, teams are starting to book their slots in the next phase. The likes of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, who are the respective leaders of the Eastern and Western Conferences, are certain to progress and there are many sides just below who are already preparing for that playoff stage.
Below the elite, competition for progression beyond the regular season is much tighter and this is where the action gets really interesting. Heading into the critical final weeks of the campaign, the final playoff slots are still wide open and, as many teams have shown in the past, once you get to that second phase, anything can happen.
If we take a look at the current NBA betting on bet365, we find the Milwaukee Bucks are favorites to win the Championship, closely followed by the LA teams – the Lakers and the Clippers. Defending champions the Toronto Raptors are an outside option for a successful defense while other teams in the mix include the Houston Rockets, the Denver Nuggets, and the Utah Jazz.
Further down the list, there is little support for the likes of the Washington Wizards but a change in fortunes could yet see Scott Brooks’ side sneak into those playoffs. Could Washington cause a major upset from that point? There may be good reasons to give them close consideration. We only have to look at the Raptors’ unlikely success 12 months ago to offer hope for the chasing teams. Where could upset come from in 2020?
Peaking When It Matters
The NBA is a grueling division: Matches come thick and fast and injuries play a big part in the sport. Quality will always rise to the top but in terms of the marginal playoff places, it’s as much about stamina and peaking at just the right time.
It’s not been the greatest regular-season campaign for Brooks and his Wizards but four wins from the first six games at the start of February hinted at a change in fortunes. The first aim is to overtake the likes of Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets. Form suggests that could be a reasonable target.
When making sporting predictions of any kind, we’re all looking for a dark horse: a team that can defy the odds to go deep into a competition and hopefully even come through to win it.
The Washington Wizards have only won one NBA Championship in their 59-year history so that’s going to be a big ask but they’re worth considering moving forward. Among those teams more certain of making the playoffs, the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat may also be worth further scrutiny.
All of those teams can take heart from the Toronto Raptors who took the NBA title over the border to Canada for the first time last year. The Bucks and the Lakers may look to be out in front but anything can happen in those final stages and hopes of another upset remain.