We are in the home stretch of the 2015-16 NBA regular season. Playoffs start on April 16 and the regular season set to concluded on April 13.
Several teams have all but secured their spot in the postseason. Others are hoping they can do enough over the final 20-25 games to punch a ticket.
Oddsmakers have released odds on a few teams from each conference. These are teams that are either just barely in the mix at the moment or on the outside looking in.
The lines are all in money line format which if you are unfamiliar with I explain here.
The other handy tool is our money line to percentage chart. You can approximate what Vegas thinks each team’s chances are in percentage form.
If you prefer fractional odds then all numbers can be divided by 100. If it’s positive then that is the top number (numerator). If the number is negative that number is the bottom number (denominator). For example the Hawks “No” bet is +900 or 9/1. The “Yes” bet of -1800 would be 1/18.
I’ve broken down the odds by conference and provided my thoughts on each team’s chances.
Charlotte is trending in the right direction. The Hornets went 7-3 in the month of February and are now two game over .500 at 30-18.
Charlotte is part of a log-jam at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Hornets, Bulls, Pacers and Pistons are all tied for 6th place. While they are just 2-games out of 5th, they are also just 1.5-games ahead of 10th place Washington.
Assuming the top 5 teams don’t stumble, at least one of these four teams will be left out of the playoff race.
The good news for Charlotte is they just recently got back center Al Jefferson (only played 24 games). Given their recent form, the Hornets appear to be a safe bet to continue their strong play down the stretch.
It’s hard to believe that Chicago is even in this conversation. The Bulls were once considered to be the biggest threat to the Cavaliers in the east. Now they are in danger of watching the postseason at home.
Chicago was 10-games over .500 back on Jan. 7 (22-12), but have since gone just 8-16. Injuries have played a big part in the Bulls struggles. Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic are all out indefinitely. Derrick Rose has been sidelined of late with a hamstring injury.
When healthy this is one of the deepest and talented teams in the league. The big question is will they be able to get healthy fast enough to make a playoff push. I believe they will, but this is far from a safe bet.
Detroit made a big splash prior to the trade deadline. The Pistons sent Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to the Orlando Magic. In return they got the services of Tobias Harris.
It took some time for the team to adjust to the new addition, but they working on a 4-game winning streak.
The big problem for Detroit has been consistency. Every time the Pistons appear to have things figured out, they follow it up with a poor stretch.
Head coach Stan Van Gundy has them trending in the right direction. However, I just don’t think the pieces are in place for the Pistons to be taken seriously this season. My money would be on Detroit getting left out of the playoff picture.
The Wizards are another team that most had penciled into the playoffs back in October. Washington has been hovering around the .500 mark all year.
The Wizards have been playing much better of late and certainly have the talent to make a run. Oddsmakers certainly like their chances.
Of the four teams listed in the Eastern Conference, they have the best odds at -600. That’s saying something. The Wizards are sitting in 10th place, which means they have to overtake two teams.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Washington ended up making the postseason. I just don’t think there’s enough value to place a wager.
Dallas has been in the mix in the Western Conference for most of the season. Right now the Mavericks are tied with Portland in 6th place at 32-28.
You have to give a lot of credit to head coach Rick Carlisle for getting this team where it is. Dallas missed out on signing any of the big free agents and wasn’t expected to be a threat in the west. The team is led in scoring by 37-year-old future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki.
This isn’t the most impressive team on paper, but coaching can get you a long ways. As long as Dallas doesn’t suffer any major injuries, I expect to see this team in the postseason.
No one expected Houston to be fighting for their playoff lives in March. The Rockets were coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals with their nucleus intact.
Houston got off to a really slow start. It appeared they were able to get things figured out, but they just can’t seem to string together a big run.
As of right now, Houston is sitting as the No. 8 seed, but Utah is on their heels. The Jazz are just 1/2 game back in the standings.
Chemistry is a key component to success and the Rockets are lacking in that department. They may be able to hold off Utah, but I wouldn’t risk my money on it.
Utah closed out last year as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. That had many picking the Jazz as a candidate to surprise in 2015-16.
Injuries kept Utah from playing up to their potential early, as they started out just 19-25. They won 7 straight prior to the All-Star break to move over .500 at 26-25. Only to lose 6 of their next 8.
The Jazz are a team that likes to slow down the tempo and grind out wins with their defense. The big question is where or not they can score enough to close out games.
Given the only team they need to pass is Houston, I would be willing to gamble on Utah to make the postseason at -115.
These were the odds for every team to make the playoffs prior to the season starting.
|Golden State Warriors||-4000||+1700|
|Los Angeles Clippers||-2500||+1250|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+900||-1800|
|New Orleans Pelicans||-260||+200|
|New York Knicks||+500||-800|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||-4000||+1700|
|San Antonio Spurs||-4000||+1700|