NBA SportsLine projections: Rockets, Raptors, Celtics see championship odds rise as Warriors struggle

The 2018-19 NBA season has been off to an entertaining start, and now that we're a month in, it's time to take stock of the league and see where things are heading. SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh has run the simulations and crunched the numbers to give us some updated projections on where teams will finish this season. 

Here's a look at the odds for every team to make the playoffs, win their conference and win the title. 

Western Conference

Team

Projected wins

Make playoffs

Win Western Conference

Win NBA title

Golden State Warriors

59.5

100%

50.8%

36.7%

Houston Rockets

54.5

99.7%

32%

19.6%

Portland Trail Blazers

49.6

95.9%

3.5%

1.4%

Los Angeles Lakers

46.5

82.3%

6.6%

2.7%

Oklahoma City Thunder

46.1

79.4%

1.1%

0.4%

LA Clippers

45

70.2%

1.2%

0.2%

Denver Nuggets

44.4

64.7%

1.1%

0.3%

New Orleans Pelicans

43.8

58.1%

0.7%

0.2%

Utah Jazz

43.7

58.3%

1.2%

0.5%

Minnesota Timberwolves

43.2

51.8%

1.2%

0.4%

San Antonio Spurs

39.8

20.2%

0.1%

0%

Memphis Grizzlies

38.8

14%

0%

0%

Sacramento Kings

35.3

2.8%

0%

0%

Dallas Mavericks

35.2

2.6%

0%

0%

Phoenix Suns

24.4

0%

0%

0%

A few takeaways from these projections:

  • Most people believe that even with all the drama going on, the Warriors will still win the title again. The projections see that happening as well, giving the Warriors a 36.7 percent chance of achieving a threepeat -- far higher than any other team. However, that is a sharp decrease from their odds last week, which gave them a 56 percent chance of lifting the trophy again, so it's clear the drama and injuries are having a negative effect. 
  • James Harden and Co. are back. Just a week ago, their chances to win the title were hovering at around two percent. Now, thanks to a four-game winning streak and the Warriors' dysfunction, their chances have shot up to 20 percent. Additionally, the projections see them winning over 54 games and capturing the No. 2 seed in the West. 
  • Despite dealing Jimmy Butler, and currently sitting at 7-10, just one spot out of the bottom in the Western Conference, the projections still see some hope for the Timberwolves. The current projections give them better than a 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. That seems a little ambitious, but the bottom of the West playoff picture is looking a bit shaky, so they definitely aren't completely out of it just yet. 
  • The data is back in on the Trail Blazers, who currently sit atop the Western Conference standings. Prior to the season, SportsLine's projections saw the Blazers as one of the teams getting squeezed out of the playoffs in the crowded Western Conference. Not so anymore, as they now have a greater than 95 percent chance of making the postseason again. 
  • Marc Gasol and Mike Conley have led the Memphis Grizzlies to a 10-5 start, which has them tied for third in the West. However, the SportsLine data doesn't see that continuing. In fact, the projections don't even see them getting to 40 wins, and has their playoff chances at a measly 14 percent. 

Eastern Conference

Team

Projected wins

Make playoffs

Win Eastern Conference

Win NBA title

Toronto Raptors

58.7

100%

35%

17.5%

Boston Celtics

53.2

99.9%

27.6%

10.5%

Milwaukee Bucks

52.3

100%

10.5%

2.7%

Philadelphia 76ers

50.8

99.8%

14.4%

4.5%

Indiana Pacers

48.1

98.9%

7%

1.7%

Detroit Pistons

43.2

86.3%

2.2%

0.5%

Charlotte Hornets

42.1

81.5%

2%

0.5%

Orlando Magic

39.1

51.5%

0.4%

0%

Brooklyn Nets

39

50.5%

0.3%

0%

Miami Heat

36.4

23.8%

0.1%

0%

Washington Wizards

33.7

7.4%

0%

0%

New York Knicks

28.9

0.4%

0%

0%

Atlanta Hawks

20.4

0%

0%

0%

Cleveland Cavaliers

17.9

0%

0%

0%

Chicago Bulls

16.8

0%

0%

0%

A few takeaways from these projections:

  • The Sixers made a bold move in acquiring Butler from the Timberwolves. Butler gives the team another playmaker and Philadelphia is now projected to reach the 50-win mark for the second consecutive season. They also now have the third-best chances -- albeit by a slim margin -- to win the East. 
  • The Raptors are becoming bigger and bigger favorites to win the East. SportsLine's projections have them up to 35 percent after their league-best 13-4 start. Additionally, they also now have a 17.5% chance to win the title. With Kawhi Leonard playing at an MVP-candidate level, the Raptors' move to trade for him has paid off so far. 
  • The projections finally believe in the Bucks. Prior to the season, SportsLine's projections saw them as a 43.5 win team, with just a 1.4 percent chance to win the East. Now, thanks to their 11-4 start, their win projection has shot up to over 52, while their chances to win the conference have jumped to 10.5 percent. 
  • Boston started out slow this season, but their recent impressive win over the Raptors, as well as the Warriors' dramatics, has boosted their title chances. Last week, the projections gave them just a five percent chance at lifting the trophy, but those odds have doubled to over 10 percent now. Additionally, they're up to a nearly 28 percent chance to win the East. 
  • Little hope for the Wizards? Despite getting off to a 5-11start, and looking downright dreadful at times, the Wizards are just 2.5 games out of the eighth seed because of how bad the East is outside the top five or six teams. But even given the Wizards' talent, the projections give them just a 7.4 percent chance to turn things around and reach the postseason. 
NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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