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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, April 23, 2012 at 4:42 PM

The NBA playoffs begin Saturday with the Miami Heat the odds-on 5-8 favorite to win the Eastern Conference championship while the Oklahoma City Thunder is 4-5 to win the West. To each his own but several factors say Miami will be a bust and that Oklahoma City committed playoff suicide when it let the NBA's number-one seed slip away to the San Antonio Spurs.

Miami is the 7-5 favorite to win it all, with the Chicago Bulls the second choice at 3-1. Oklahoma City is 7-2 and San Antonio is 7-1. Of note is the fact the two favorites are from the Eastern Conference which 154-111 against the Western Conference this season .

While the number one seed is not yet officially the Spurs (47-16), in reality it is. They have to win one of their last three games and can put it away tonight by beating Portland (38-36). Their remaining two games are on the road-at Phoenix (33-31) and at Golden State (23-41).

For the record Portland is 3-7 in its last 10 games, including an 8-23 road record, while the Suns 5-5 and Golden State 2-8 in its last 10.

There remains a battle for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Utah (34-30) currently has the 8-spot but is being chased by Phoenix and Houston (33-32). Utah hosts Phoenix Tuesday night and then closes out Thursday in Salt Lake City against Portland.

The first rounds of the playoffs are played on a best-of-seven 2-2-1-1-1 format, the championship round on a 2-3-2 formula.

For students of history and trivia, the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship last year, beating the Miami Heat 4-2. The Boston Celtics and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers have won a combined 33 of the 65 NBA championships that began in 1947 when the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Chicago Stags 4-1. Dallas is 15-1 to repeat while the Celtics are 10-1.

Forgive me but out of hand I dismiss the chances of Dallas and Boston.

Pairings If Playoffs Began Today

Eastern Conference
#1 Chicago Bulls (48-16) vs. #8 Philadelphia 76ers (33-30)
#2 Miami Heat (46-18) vs. #7 New York Knicks (e34-30)
#3 Indiana Pacers (41-23) vs.#6 Orlando Magic (36-28)
#4 Boston Celtics (35-27) vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks (38-26)

Western Conference
#1 San Antonio Spurs (47-16) vs. #8 Utah Jazz (34-30)
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder (46-18) vs. Dallas Mavericks (36-29)
#3 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #6 Denver Nuggets (36-28)
#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #5 Memphis Grizzlies (39-25)

Odds To Win NBA East

Team Odds
Miami Heat 5-8
Chicago Bulls 3-2
Boston Celtics 10-1
Indiana Pacers 20-1
New York Knicks 20-1
Orlando Magic 25-1
Atlanta Hawks 50-1
Philadelphia 76ers 50-1
Milwaukee Bucks 150-1

Odds To Win NBA West

Team Odds
Oklahoma City 4-5
San Antonio Spurs 11-4
Los Angeles Lakers 5-1
Los Angeles Clippers 10-1
Memphis Grizzlies 12-1
Dallas Mavericks 15-1
Denver Nuggets 25-1
Houston Rockets 50-1
Phoenix Suns 100-1
Utah Jazz 150-1


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