The NBA season is reaching its business end, with the conference semi-finals now set. There was no shortage of drama in the NBA playoffs last season, and that has only promised to set the scene for this term. Once again, the Milwaukee Bucks look like an outstanding sportsbook betting choice, as they clash with the Boston Celtics for the place in the Eastern Conference finals, while the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers will both be looking to join the defending champions.
Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors look to get back to the championship game as they seek to overcome the Memphis Grizzlies. The winner of that semi-final will come up against either the Phoenix Suns or Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference championship game.
Best Bookmakers - June 2023
The Eastern Conference will be looking to produce the winners of the NBA Championship for the third time in four years. However, unfortunately, there will be no Canadian involvement in the final stages, as the 2019 champions, the Toronto Raptors, were eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers. Miami could be an outstanding contender in the East this term, as they finished top of the regular-season standings. The Heat went 53-29 for a win percentage of .646, as they excelled at home with a leading record of 29-12. They finally managed to see off the Atlanta Hawks in the first round on April 27th, as they won game five to seal a 4-1 success. Bam Adebayo and Victor Oladipo were excellent throughout that series and concluded game five with 20 and 23 points.
The Sixers will be the punters outsider bet to get past the Heat, after they managed to knock out the Raptors in game six of the previous round. Philadelphia finished the regular season in fourth overall, and boasted an identical record of 51-31 as the Bucks and Celtics. I’d struggle to see them getting past the Heat. The standout game in the Eastern Conference semi-finals comes in the form of the Bucks against the Celtics. The Bucks are the defending champions in the NBA, and finished third in the overall conference standings. It shouoild be a fascinating showdown against the Celtics, as both sides finished the regular season with an overall record of 51-31. The Bucks took an early series lead, as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. On that form, it may be challenging to see past the Bucks making it to a second straight NBA Finals.
There hasn’t been a shortage of shocks and upsets in the Western Conference this season. The Los Angeles Lakers were the big regular-season story, as the 2020 champions failed to even make the playoffs. However, last season’s losing finalists are back on the comeback trail, as the Phoenix Suns boasted the best overall NBA regular-season record, having gone 64-18.
They were made to work extremely hard in their opening-round matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, but they eventually got through with a game six victory. Chris Paul was in excellent form in that clinching game, as he scored 33 points. Deandre Ayton also scored 22, while 18 points were added by Mikal Bridges. Their experience of reaching the NBA Finals last year before being beaten by the Bucks could be pivotal to their chances this season, as they have shown that they have what it takes to reach the finals.
However, when it comes to experience in playoff basketball, it would be extremely hard to write off the chances of the Golden State Warriors. They were the dominant force between 2015 and 2019, reaching the NBA Finals on five occasions. They won three of their NBA Finals appearances, with their most recent appearances ending in defeat against the Toronto Raptors. However, they look to be back to their very best this season and are good value to be the favourites to win the outright title. The Warriors finished as third seeds in the West, but have already taken a 1-0 series advantage over second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. Not for the first time, Stephen Curry was the star of the show, as he scored 24 points. He could be the crucial player once again when it comes to their chances.
NBA Finals Prediction - The Bucks Repeat!
In truth, it could be hard to make a bet against a repeat NBA Finals from last year, as the Suns and Bucks look incredibly strong. However, the Curry factor means that we could see the Warriors making the NBA Finals for the first time since 2019, and that could set up a thrilling battle against Giannis’ Bucks. It could be a match-up for the ages, but the defending champions in our opinion would just shade it, as they have players approaching their prime and have shown the playoff experience over the past 12 months that is pivotal to their chance of success in the NBA once again.