POINTING THE WAY TO 2023 NBA PLAYOFFS

With the 2023 NBA Playoffs drawing ever closer, the race to qualify for an all-important final berths remains hotly contested in both the NBA Eastern and Western Conferences.

Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers have all secured their positions from the NBA Eastern Conference with the race on to clinch the last automatic qualification spot.

The Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards are going to have to hold their nerve to make it across the Playoff line.

Only those sides that finish in the top six will automatically progress to the Playoffs. That leaves those teams who finish seventh to tenth to face-off in a post-season Play-in competition for the remaining final two places.

Four teams will enter the Play-in tournament, two progress to the Playoffs yet the process of elimination appears quite complex. Those teams who finish seventh and eighth in their respective Conference lock horns, with the winner bagging a Playoffs spot. The loser faces the victorious team between ninth and tenth place, so whoever wins this showdown clinches the final berth in the Playoffs.

Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings are already guaranteed a spot from the Western Conference. The remaining five places up for grabs appears to be a tough fight between Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns.

With the NBA Finals being such a highly lucrative annual tournament, starting after the end of the regular season and concluding in mid-June, then new stars are expected to shine during the final stages of this basketball feast when the best of seven games take place over a fortnight.

Golden State Warriors won the 2022 NBA Finals tournament with an enthralling four games to three triumph over Boston Celtics. This success propelled them back to the big time, having reached the Finals for five seasons on the spin until missing out because of injuries during the 2020 and 2021 campaigns.

For fans all around the world considering a wager on who will be crowned this season’s NBA Finals champion, Aussie bookmakers have installed Milwaukee Bucks as current favourites. Bet365 Australia is carrying 11/4 odds for the Bucks to take home the NBA title this year.

Defending Eastern Conference champions Boston Celtics sit slightly behind (11/3). Phoenix Suns (9/2), who recently bolstered their squad with the acquisition of small forward/power forward Kevin Durant, and Western Conference’s Denver Nuggets (15/2) are hot on their heels.

There’s always the chance to explore future betting tips, such as who could scoop the 2023 MVP award. However, Nuggets have Serbian star Nikola Jokic, who is the overwhelming favourite to win the prestigious MVP award for a third season on the spin.

This year there’s a slightly new structure to the tournament. The leading eight teams from each Conference compete in a best-of-seven elimination format, which continues over four rounds — 1st round, the NBA Conference semi-finals, the NBA Conference finals and the NBA Finals — until just two teams remain to challenge for the coveted Championship.

For sides to reach the Conference semi-final stage they have to negotiate their way out of the 1st round of the Playoffs, which features four match-ups and each lasts seven games. The first team to notch four wins progresses to the Conference semis.

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The NBA Conference semi-finals are effectively the 2nd round, where the winners of the four previous match-ups in each Conference face off in another best of seven game series.

The NBA Conference finals are the 3rd round, when the final two teams in each Conference face-off in yet another seven-game series. The winners then get the opportunity to claim the Championship crown in the final round of the Playoffs.

The NBA Finals are the very final round of the Playoffs, which again is decided by a maximum of seven games with the overall winner of the 2023 NBA Finals tournament sealing success by reaching four victories.