by Mark Mayer | It came down to Game 81 in a regular season of 82, but the 16 teams have finally been decided for the upcoming NBA playoffs. The picture cleared with the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers each losing Monday night, enabling Denver in the West and Atlanta in the East to qualify for postseason play.
The latest NBA Championship odds released Tuesday morning at the Las Vegas Hilton has the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers the favorites. Boston, No. 1 seed in the East, is 9-5 to win the title. The Lakers are 12-5 and can secure the top seed in the West with either a win tonight against Sacramento or a New Orleans loss at home facing the LA Clippers.
Defending champion San Antonio and Phoenix are next at 7-1. Detroit, the No. 2 seed in the East, is 8-1, followed by New Orleans, Utah and Dallas each at 15-1. Cleveland, Houston and Orlando are all 30-1, followed by Denver (50-1) and Washington (60-1). The real longshots are Toronto (100-1), Philadelphia (100-1) and Atlanta (200-1).
"Weve taken a lot of money on Boston and the Lakers, which would be a popular and nostalgic NBA final," said Jeff Sherman, the Hilton SuperBooks assistant Race and Sports manager. "Boston and Detroit are the top teams in the East. Anyone can come out of the West. If there is a longshot pick, Utah would be a good buy with its excellent homecourt record."
The matchups in the West are still to be determined. The East is set. Boston will face No. 8 seed Atlanta, Detroit takes on No. 7 Philadelphia, No. 3 Orlando meets No. 6 Toronto and for the third straight year No. 4 Cleveland opposes No. 5 Washington.
The West playoff teams are the Lakers, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix, Utah, Dallas and Denver. The NBA regular season concludes Wednesday night.