Now that March Madness has passed, I know many sports fans are thinking that Cinderella has left the building; that she's long gone; that there are no more underdogs lurking out there. But I believe we could have an upset of historic proportions on our hands in the NBA Western Conference. For the last two seasons, Golden State has looked nearly invincible. I think they're going to be dethroned and even though the San Antonio Spurs (+350) are the safe longshot for taking the West; there is significant value on the Los Angeles Clippers (+2000).
The Clippers were one of the hottest teams in the league going into the postseason, riding a seven-game win streak and having won eleven of the last thirteen. How many times have we seen, across all sports, not the best, but the hottest team make a deep run into the playoffs? If the Clippers can ride that wave through the first round past the Jazz and carry that momentum into the second, where in almost all likelihood they'll play Golden State, they may just have a shot. Chris Paul is playing out of his mind at the moment. But the Clippers' success will likely come down to Jamaal Crawford. Paul cannot win a series by himself (even Lebron needed Kyrie). Crawford has the league record for Sixth Man of Year awards with three. He'll have to come up huge if the Clips have a prayer.
I think another major factor here will be resentment. Recent reports confirm that Steph Curry commands much respect and love amongst the NBA fan base and, yet, is disdained by many NBA stars, including notably Lebron, Westbrook and Paul. All three reportedly resent the "anointment" of Curry as the Chosen One by the media and the league. They feel like he hasn't earned his accolades yet and they'll be looking to back it up. Every series, every game will be a grind for Golden State. There's no doubt they have the talent, but do they have the perseverance? This year, more than ever, they are the most hated team in the league. Expect that bad blood to be a factor.
This is quite possibly the last chance for this L.A. squad to have a legitimate shot at an NBA Championship. The Clippers are going to have some serious issues over the summer with at least three key players likely to test the free agency market. You better believe Chris Paul will have the boys fired up. Obviously, there will be a ton of money pouring in on the Warriors to win the West. And there's simply no point in taking anyone below the fourth seed. They don't have a prayer. So if you aren't completely sold on the Warriors (or the Rockets), then you've got to with the Spurs or Clips.
Listen, if you want to play it safe, you can't go wrong with the Spurs. They have the talent, the drive and the experience. But I'm taking a shot at building the bankroll with the longshot Clippers. Crazier things have happened and I'm just not quite convinced in the invincibility of the Warriors. Or that Cinderella has left the ball.