San Antonio, New York and Miami can all book their progress into their respective Conference semi-finals on Sunday and all signs are pointing to a 4-0 sweep for the trio.
The Spurs will try to close out their series with the Los Angeles Lakers and their path to the next round was eased even further when Metta World Peace became the latest, and possibly final, addition to LA’s injury list this season. If the Lakers were an animal, they’ve have been put down to halt any further suffering and it’s hard to see anything but another comprehensive victory for San Antonio, who are -11 on the handicap at 1.88.
But they’ve got bigger fish to fry. With Oklahoma City confirming on Saturday that Russell Westbrook is done for the season, the Spurs are now firm favourites to win the Western Conference. Given the ageing core of their line-up, it is now or never for them. And although Miami are still 1.52 to regain their title, San Antonio are the one team in the West with the acumen to challenge and they’re good value now at 6.75.
The Heat can wrap up their series with Milwaukee and after three dominating victories, the reigning champions are -8.5 on the handicap to hunt down the Bucks.
The New York Knicks are -1.5 on the handicap to sweep out Boston in four games, with the Celtics proving utterly disappointing. JR Smith is suspended, which may give Boston some small hope. But given their woes, and a lack of optimism that they can contend even if Rajon Rondo comes back from injury next season, it might even prove to be the last time we see Kevin Garnett on an NBA court.
By far the most intriguing tie on Sunday – and the best first round series – is Golden State against Denver, with the Warriors taking a 2-1 lead into Game 4. A 3-1 deficit would be almost catastrophic for the Nuggets, who have been superlative at home but wayward on the road. Golden State are 2.02 for the win with Denver at 1.81. Have a punt on going over the total points line of 211.5 at 1.91.
Best bet: Take San Antonio to win the Western Conference