The Dallas Mavericks are big underdogs to make the playoffs at odds of +190. Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire.
- Detroit Pistons listed at +120 to make playoffs for just third time in last 11 seasons
- San Antonio Spurs have made the playoffs in 22 straight seasons, but are just +170 to miss out this time
- New-look Dallas Mavericks are listed at +190 to force their way into the Western Conference postseason
It seems that every year the race for the NBA playoffs simply gets tighter and tighter. And the 2019-20 season is no different with a number of teams vying for those coveted 16 spots.
Thought there are a number of teams one might consider locks to make the playoffs, such as the Milwaukee Bucks in the East or the Los Angeles Clippers in the West. One look at the NBA playoff odds shows a number of teams on the bubble.
Here are five plus-money picks from those bubble teams to either make or miss the playoffs.
2019-20 NBA Playoff Odds
|Team||Odds to Make Playoffs at BetOnline||Odds to Miss Playoffs at BetOnline|
|San Antonio Spurs||-200||+170|
*Odds taken on 10/19/19. For all teams visit BetOnline
The Case for the Detroit Pistons
After making the playoffs for just the second time in 10 seasons, the Pistons will be looking to build on that, even if they haven’t won a playoff game since reaching the conference finals in 2008.
Under former Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, the Pistons made big strides in the second half of last season. Case in point was their offense, which surged following the All-Star break. After averaging just 106.5 points per 100 possessions prior to the break – ranking 23rd in the NBA – the Pistons improved to 112.4 afterwards, good for seventh overall. That 5.9-point improvement was the second-biggest jump in the NBA over that time.
Crazy how the Detroit Pistons are the only current team with 2 players scoring 50+ from last season🔥🔥🏀😎🐐 pic.twitter.com/BoGzlNZvJJ
— Nick Brandel (@MotorCityBanter) August 17, 2019
The additions of former MVP Derrick Rose and Tony Snell, and the continued development of youngsters Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown, should only help boost the Pistons’ playoff chances too. That’s especially true in an Eastern Conference where there is a clear gap between the top five or six teams and the rest, allowing a team like Detroit to sneak into one of the final couple of playoff spots.
Pick: Detroit to make playoffs (+120)
The Case Against the Orlando Magic
After finishing a surprising seventh in the Eastern Conference last season, the Orlando Magic didn’t do a whole lot this off-season to push them further up in the conversation for the East’s best teams.
They re-signed star players such as Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, and brought in Al-Farouq Aminu from Portland, but to continue the upward momentum generated by their first playoff appearance in seven years, they will have to find the answers within.
After bringing in former first overall pick Markelle Fultz from Philadelphia, the Magic will be hoping he can rediscover some confidence as well as become a reliable shooter, but that is a big if.
Markelle Fultz NEEDS a jump shot….BAAADDD! If he doesn’t get one.., pic.twitter.com/B1RNis6ijD
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 12, 2018
And while the Magic benefit from a strong front court, anchored by the likes of Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon, one of Orlando’s big Achilles heels is its lack of depth, particularly if players like Fultz can’t turn it around.
Pick: Orlando to miss playoffs (+120)
The Case Against the San Antonio Spurs
After 22 straight postseason appearances – the longest such streak among the major North American sports leagues – every new season brings the same question: Is this the year that run of success comes to an end?
It has to end sometime, right? Well, this year seems as good as any, particularly in a tight Western Conference, where even the likes of the Golden State Warriors might struggle to get in.
The team squeaked into the playoffs last year as the seventh seed, and projects to be on the bubble just the same this year. While coach Gregg Popovich will hold up his end of the bargain, it remains to be seen if there is enough talent on the floor to carry out his instructions.
Dejounte Murray clamps James Harden and then blows past him on the next play 🔥 pic.twitter.com/b3TNnGxOhR
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 17, 2019
The Spurs will be relying heavily on another solid season from DeMar DeRozan, and will likely need Dejounte Murray to return from his torn ACL with a breakout season to give DeRozan a high-level running mate. They will also be counting on LaMarcus Aldridge to have another season of good health, having played 81 games for the first time in almost a decade.
It seems a lot to rely on.
Pick: San Antonio to miss playoffs (+170)
The Case for the Dallas Mavericks
The 2018-19 season was one of change for the Mavericks, with a 14th-place Western Conference finish, the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki and the rookie-of-the-year campaign from Luka Doncic.
Now the Dallas faithful get to see the future of this franchise, as Doncic gets set to partner with Kristaps Porzingis to lead the team into the future.
Are Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis one of the top duos in the NBA?
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) October 17, 2019
That could well start this year with a return to the playoffs, such is the high-end potential for this pair.
But they will have help, as the team traded for point guard Delon Wright and brought back guard Seth Curry. Coupled with a return to health for guard JJ Barea, who ruptured his Achilles last season, the Mavericks actually have a fair amount of depth, which should help their cause.
Pick: Dallas to make playoffs (+190)
The Case Against the Indiana Pacers
To a large extent, Indiana’s 2019-20 playoff chances will hinge on the health of All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, who went down last season with a quad injury, and isn’t expected back until December at the earliest. If he’s back early, it would go a long way to getting Indiana back to the playoffs.
Coach McMillan’s full update on @VicOladipo 🎥
“That’s a good sign. He’s been doing some things one-on-one, but he will be able to go five-on-five half-court with the team.” pic.twitter.com/ss4OE7LNap
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 18, 2019
But any complication with his health there is going to have some pretty severe ramifications for the Pacers’ season, and after a large-scale turnover of the rest of their roster, there are a lot of question marks.
Via the draft, trades and free agency, the Pacers brought in eight new faces and jettisoned seven – including reliable scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, who stepped up in Oladipo’s absence – so there will be a period of adjustment for those trying to pick up the slack. And even when Oladipo returns, there is no guarantee that his play will be up to the 18.8-point-per-game pace it was on when he went down.
Despite making the playoffs for the last four years and in eight of the last nine seasons, there are just too many unknown to lock in a guarantee of another this coming year.
Pick: Indiana to miss playoffs (+600)