Warriors, Cavaliers favoured in NBA playoffs
Regular season heroes will rise and fall, rivalries will be renewed and the dark horses will get their chance when the National Basketball Association playoffs begin this weekend.other Updated: Apr 18, 2015 15:30 IST
Regular season heroes will rise and fall, rivalries will be renewed and the dark horses will get their chance when the National Basketball Association playoffs begin this weekend.
The Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs are the favourites, but there's always someone who does the unexpected and launches a team to prominence.
Golden State finished with 67 wins and 15 losses in the regular season, completing one of the best seasons in league history and setting a club record for victories. The Warriors became just the 10th team to reach 67 wins in a season.
"Everything we have gone through to this point will hopefully prepare us for this journey of winning 16 games," Warriors player Stephen Curry said of the playoffs. "Every game is of supreme importance and we have to be ready."
The Warriors, who will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, begin first-round action against New Orleans on Saturday, after the Pelicans defeated San Antonio 108-103 Wednesday, in order to make the postseason.
Klay Thompson scored a game-high 25 points as Golden State closed out their remarkable season with a 133-126 win over the Denver Nuggets for their fourth-consecutive win.
The Pelicans charged into the postseason in style. They needed a win in the season finale against the defending champion San Antonio, who were riding an 11-game winning streak.
New Orleans was up to the task as they grabbed the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff berth.
The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 138-113 to finish with the same record as the Pelicans. However, New Orleans held the tiebreaker thanks to winning the teams' head-to-head series.
Cleveland finished the regular season with a 113-108 overtime win over the Washington Wizards.
With the number two seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics already secured, the Cavaliers (53-29) rested LeBron James, who hasn't played in eight consecutive season finales.
James will be back for the first game of the series on Sunday. "I'm happy that our team is coming into this time of year after having gone through something," Cleveland head coach David Blatt said.
Cavs favoured by bookmakers
The Cavaliers enter the playoffs with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, but don't tell that to the Las Vegas bookmakers who have tabbed them as the overall favourites in to win the championship.
The Cavs own the best record in the NBA since mid-January. They were listed Thursday at 9-4 odds as the consensus choice to seize their first NBA title in June.
The Warriors were next at 5-2, while the Spurs at 4-1 and Atlanta, who finished the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference, at 12-1.
The East may be considered the weaker conference, but there are some interesting matchups.
The Chicago Bulls have the number three seed in the East and will open against the sixth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, and the Toronto Raptors will square off with the fifth-seeded Washington Wizards.Brooklyn earned the number eight seed and a first-round playoff meeting with the top-seeded Hawks.