There are just a few weeks remaining in the NBA regular season, meaning now is the ideal time to brush up on everything you need to know about the Playoffs. From the format through to who’s playing and who we think will take out the whole thing, this is the NBA Playoffs for beginners.
How do they work?
The Playoff format is pretty simple. To have a chance to qualify for the NBA Playoffs, teams need to be in the top ten in their Conference at the conclusion of the regular season. The top six automatically qualify, while the next four play what’s called a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine who earns the final two spots. Once that tournament is complete, the real Playoffs begin.
In the first round, the top team in each Conference plays the 8th team, while 2nd plays 7th, 3rd plays 6th and 4thplays 5th. But these teams don’t just play each other once like in most Australian sports. Instead, they play best-of-seven series, meaning the first to win four games advances through to the next round. The Playoffs continue in this vein until just one team from each Conference remains, and these two then play one another to determine the NBA Champion.
Who’s going to win the East?
The Eastern Conference appears to be a battle in three. Two of those teams, the 76ers and the Bucks, have been there or thereabouts for the past couple of years, but neither has managed to advance out of the East in that time. Unfortunately for them this year is shaping up to be much the same, because Brooklyn has spent the past couple of years accumulating an inordinate amount of the league’s talent and are now the overwhelming favourite to win the Eastern Conference, and indeed the NBA title.
Who’s going to win the West?
The West has a lot more depth than the East, and any of the top six (and arguably even more) could claim to have a chance at winning the Conference. The favourites, however, are the two teams from Los Angeles, while the league-leading Utah Jazz are also right up there. The Jazz haven’t put a foot wrong all year, but the biggest knock against them is that they lack the star power of the Lakers and the Clippers. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard for the Clippers are a formidable duo, but the reigning champions in the Lakers are led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, two of the top few players in the league, and are deserved favourites to win the West.
Who’s going to win the Championship?
Realistically there are a number of teams who could make their way out of each Conference and into the NBA Finals, but as we mentioned, it’s the Lakers and the Nets who appear most likely. If that’s the case, it makes for a compelling series. The Nets have a wealth of offensive firepower and are virtually impossible to stop, but a clear weakness is on the defensive end, and more specifically in guarding players capable of getting to the rim. In LeBron and Davis, the Lakers have two of the game’s best players at doing just that, and it’s for that reason that we give the Lakers a slight edge.
So that’s it — all that you need to know about the 2021 NBA Playoffs. They kick off on the 22nd of May and will conclude in July, and we think the Lakers are as good a chance as anyone to take out the whole thing for the second consecutive year. As the NBA Playoffs odds show, however, they are one of many teams with a chance in what shapes up as one of the most entertaining Playoff series in recent years.