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2014 NBA Futures Odds & hoops handicapping predictions

Gambling On NBA Hoops?

A new year is upon us and the NBA is nearing its halfway mark on the 2013-14 season. With the playoffs just a few short months away, let’s re-examine the odds for each team’s chances of claiming the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season. [ad-4468020]

Here’s a look at three top teams, three mid-level teams, and three long shots, with a recommended pick from each category.

Indiana Pacers +350

The Pacers’ odds are second only to the Heat’s, yet it’s the Pacers who have the top winning percentage in the NBA, The emergence of Paul George into a true top-level talent and the continued willingness of those around him to go all-out at the defensive end has Indiana looking like the top threat to Miami in the Eastern Conference.

Oklahoma City Thunder +650

The Thunder just seem to have been lacking whatever that intangible is that’s necessary to get them over the top in recent seasons, but they certainly are one of the most talented teams in the Association. They’ve already cut their teeth in the NBA Finals and this could be the year that they finally break through, particularly if Russell Westbrook can re-find his extra gear by playoff time.

San Antonio Spurs +700

Old reliable San Antonio gave Miami all that they could handle a year ago but a miraculous comeback by the Heat in Game 6 downed the Spurs’ hopes for a fourth championship in 11 years. The team’s core players are a year older, but the players around them are as good as they’ve ever been, and as head coach Gregg Popovich seems content to give his veterans extra time off whenever possible, the Spurs should be ready to go when the games really count.

The play: Oklahoma City +650

Portland Trail Blazers +1400

Portland has been at or near the top of the NBA standings since the start of the season as the team just cannot seem to miss a shot, filling the basket at a rate of 108.7 points per game, tops in the NBA. Many will point to the development of sophomore point guard Damian Lillard as the catalyst, but many overlook the contributions of forward LaMarcus Aldridge who is quietly putting together an MVP-caliber season.
Golden State Warriors +1600

The Golden State Warriors would be near the top of the Eastern Conference standings if they played on that side of the country, but instead they’re forced to battle it out with the bottom half of the Western Conference. The team showed a year ago that when they get hot shooting the ball no one can stop them, and if they get hot at the right time, they could put themselves over the top.

Dallas Mavericks +5000

The Mavericks are clinging to the final spot in the Western Conference, but they’ve been playing far better than that, particularly at home. As the team’s new pieces get more and more accustomed to the team’s game plan, the wins will flow in.

The play: Golden State +1600

Memphis Grizzlies +6600

The absence of Marc Gasol hurts Memphis and has them on the outside looking in out West, but the team showed that they don’t need Rudy Gay to win games a year ago. Gasol is expected back sooner rather than later, and with the team’s top big man back, and Mike Conley Jr. breaking out of his funk, the Grizzlies will be a dark horse in the Western Conference.

Atlanta Hawks +7500

The Hawks find themselves ranked third in the Eastern Conference, largely thanks to their impressive 12-5 record at home. With new pieces seemingly moving in every season, it’s easy to overlook the Hawks, but the team has things figured out and is one of only three Eastern Conference teams to average triple-digits in scoring.

Toronto Raptors +10000

Shipping out franchise cornerstone Rudy Gay may have seemed like an indication that the Raptors were throwing in the towel, but the move that worked for the Grizzlies last season worked for Toronto this year. The Raptors have been more efficient at the offensive end of the floor and are selling out on head coach Dwane Casey’s defensive system at the other end. The Raptors have climbed above .500 and did so with an impressive victory over the Pacers.

The play: Toronto +1000


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