Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: 2018 NBA Finals Matchup

The Cavaliers faced a significant uphill battle in the Eastern Conference Finals after falling behind 2-0, and the Rockets looked to be on life support in the Western Conference Finals after being blown out in Golden State in Game 3. However, after Houston’s dramatic win on Tuesday night, both series are all tied at two games apiece, guaranteeing we’ll get a couple Game Sixes, and perhaps even a Game Seven or two.

With both Conference Finals having essentially become best-of-three series, the next several days should be fascinating. Coming into the third round, a Warriors/Cavaliers rematch in the Finals was widely expected, and oddsmakers are still forecasting that outcome. Sports betting site Bovada.lv currently lists both Golden State and Cleveland as 2-to-1 favorites.

Still, despite being favored, neither the Warriors nor the Cavs has home court advantage, which could be an important factor. Historically, in best-of-seven series that are tied after four games, the team with the home court edge wins 80% of the time, per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports (Twitter link).

The Rockets and Celtics have been particularly effective at home this year. No team posted a better regular-season home record than Houston’s 34-7 mark, and the Rockets are 6-2 in the postseason at the Toyota Center. As for the Celtics, they’ve yet to lose in Boston during the playoffs, reeling off nine straight home wins.

What do you think? Will either the Rockets or Celtics prevent a fourth straight Warriors/Cavaliers showdown in the 2018 NBA Finals? Which two teams do you expect to continue playing into June?

Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on the Conference Finals!

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Poll: Rockets Or Cavaliers In Better Position?

The Cavaliers are coming off one of their most disappointing games of the season, as they surrendered a halftime lead on Tuesday night and dropped a second consecutive game in Boston, with the Celtics taking a 2-0 lead in the series.

The Rockets, on the other hand, looked like a legit title contender on Wednesday night in Houston, jumping on the Warriors early and outscoring them in every quarter en route to a 127-105 win to even up that series at 1-1.

Despite each team’s most recent game though, the Cavaliers are still viewed as a stronger bet to make the NBA Finals than the Rockets, as the odds at Bovada.lv show. A $100 wager on the Cavs to win their series would net $175 in winnings, while the same bet on the Rockets would earn you $250.

A strong respect for LeBron James – and for the Warriors – is reflected in those lines, but LeBron’s excellence isn’t the only reason why oddsmakers still view the Cavs as a stronger bet than the Rockets. The Eastern Conference Finals are headed back to Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have a 5-1 record so far in the postseason. The Celtics, meanwhile, are 1-4 on the road in playoff games this spring. If the Cavs can take care of business at home, the series would return to Boston for Game 5 tied at 2-2.

Home-court advantage is also a major factor in the Western Conference Finals. Having stolen Game 1 in Houston, the Warriors don’t need to win another road game to win the series. In fact, the Rockets will be under pressure to win one of the next two games in Oakland to avoid heading back home down 3-1.

Outside of the home-court factor, oddsmakers also figure to be heavily weighing recent history in their lines. The Warriors were one win away from taking home the last three NBA titles, and have looked virtually unstoppable in the postseason since Kevin Durant joined the roster in 2016. James, meanwhile, has been in the last seven NBA Finals, and it wasn’t long ago that he and the Cavs steamrolled the East’s top seed in a four-game sweep.

What do you think? Are the Rockets, with one win in hand, in a better position to advance than the Cavs, or are oddsmakers right to give the Cavs a stronger chance to make the Finals?

Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section below to make your case.

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Poll: Who Should Suns Draft With No. 1 Pick?

Josh Jackson‘s lucky underwear paid off at Tuesday night’s draft lottery, with the Suns taking home the No. 1 pick for the 2018 NBA draft. While it was the fourth consecutive year that the team with the worst record in the league came away with the first overall selection, it was the first time in franchise history that Phoenix had nabbed that top pick.

[RELATED: Full 2018 NBA Draft Lottery Results]

“In the 50-year history of the Phoenix Suns, there have been a lot of great nights and great accomplishments, and I think this is one of them,” GM Ryan McDonough said, per Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “This is something the franchise has never done before.”

While the Suns are in position to select whichever player they want from this year’s draft class, there’s no LeBron James or Anthony Davis in the 2018 pool. While there are plenty of tantalizing prospects to choose from, none of those players is a consensus top choice.

The top candidate to come off the board is probably big man Deandre Ayton, who played his college ball at Arizona, averaging a double-double (20.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG) in his first and only season with the Wildcats. After the Suns won the top pick on Tuesday night, Jackson endorsed Ayton, suggesting the youngster’s ceiling is “through the roof.”

However, Ayton isn’t the only prospect in play at No. 1. Many draft experts think just as highly of Real Madrid star Luka Doncic, who is viewed as one of the top prospects to ever come out of the EuroLeague. Doncic is also familiar with new Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov, who coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team.

While Ayton and Doncic are widely considered the top two prospects in this year’s draft class, McDonough said there’s a “small grouping” of players the club will consider with the No. 1 pick, per Bordow. As Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes, Marvin Bagley III – an Arizona native – could be a part of that group. The ACC Player of the Year, Bagley averaged 21.0 PPG and 11.1 RPG in his freshman year at Duke.

What do you think? Do you like Ayton, Doncic, Bagley, or someone else for the Suns at No. 1? Should the team give much consideration to how those players would fit alongside Jackson and Devin Booker, or does it simply make sense to pick the best player available?

Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Boston Celtics Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Seven months ago, nobody would have been surprised to learn that the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals would pit the Celtics against the Cavaliers. In fact, most probably would have expected these two teams to be where they are.

Yet, after a season filled with drama for both franchises, with the Cavs trading away half of their team midway through the season and the Celts losing both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to injuries, the match-up isn’t quite what many would have expected in the preseason.

The Cavaliers, looking to reach their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, are considered to be the favorite by most, as they still have the best player in the world on their side. LeBron James is averaging a ridiculous 34.9/9.4/9.0 so far this postseason and the Celtics and head coach Brad Stevens will have their hands full trying to contain him throughout the series.

The regular season series finished in favor of Cleveland, with the Cavaliers blowing out the Celtics in Boston back in February after the teams each won a game on their home floor earlier in the season.

However, the first game the teams played – in the season opener – was marred by Hayward’s injury, and the win in February by Cleveland saw huge contributions by newly acquired players Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance – players who have seen their minutes reduced this postseason.

So what do you think? Which team do you expect to represent the East in the NBA Finals? Place your vote, then jump into the comment section below to discuss the series.

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Poll: Was Firing Casey Right Decision For Raptors?

After dismissing head coach Dwane Casey earlier today, Raptors president Masai Ujiri spoke to reporters this afternoon about the decision, calling it “the hardest thing I’ve done in my life” (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).

While Ujiri acknowledged how difficult it was to part ways with Casey after the head coach’s seven seasons in Toronto, he also indicated that sometimes relationships need to come to an end. “We’ll figure a way to move on,” Ujiri said (Twitter link). “New voice.”

While it’s hard to place the blame for another disappointing postseason performance against Cleveland entirely on Casey, he made several questionable calls during the Raptors’ four-game sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Toronto struggled all series to contain James and his supporting cast, and Casey kept returning to certain defensive matchups that weren’t working, letting the Cavs exploit constant defensive switches. Additionally, an ill-fated decision to bring in Lucas Nogueira during Game 4 for the first time in over two weeks may have been the dagger in the Raptors’ season — Nogueira was a -10 in less than two minutes of action as the Cavs built a big lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Still, as many observers have pointed out today, firing a head coach for being unable to beat James in the playoffs doesn’t seem fair. After all, no Eastern team has been able to get past a LeBron-led squad in the postseason since 2010, and the Raptors don’t exactly have a superstar capable of matching up with the NBA’s best player.

Casey is coming off a 59-23 regular season, having established a new Raptors record for wins in a season. He hasn’t had fewer than 48 victories in a season since 2012/13, and his club won four playoff series in the last three years. Casey was even recognized by his peers as the National Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year earlier this week.

It’s a strong résumé, and one that has many NBA fans questioning whether the Raptors can really find a coach who will be an upgrade on Casey.

What do you think? Did the Raptors need to move on from Casey after its latest playoff defeat, or is this the wrong move, and one the team will regret? Vote below in our poll, then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Houston Rockets Vs. Golden State Warriors

While the Western Conference playoffs generated some drama in the first couple rounds, the Conference Finals matchup is the one we’ve all anticipated for months. After the Rockets eliminated the Jazz on Tuesday night, and the Warriors followed suit by dispatching the Pelicans, Houston and Golden State are set to meet in the WCF, with the series tipping off on Monday.

The Warriors, who were a single victory away from having won the last three NBA championships, have to be considered the favorites to keep winning titles until someone stops them. However, many fans and league observers believe Houston can be that team.

The Rockets claimed the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference this season, finishing seven games ahead of the No. 2 Warriors with a 65-17 record. Houston was virtually unstoppable when James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela suited up together — the Rockets only lost three regular-season contests when the trio played, so the Warriors will have to top that number in a seven-game series in order to eliminate the West’s top seed.

Despite the Rockets’ incredible regular season run and their home court advantage though, Las Vegas oddsmakers still favor the defending champions. As David Purdum of ESPN details, the Westgate SuperBook in Vegas has made the Warriors the initial favorites, and early bets have leaned in Golden State’s direction. With Stephen Curry now back in the lineup, joining Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, that’s not entirely surprising.

This will be a fascinating series, one that could end up being more compelling than the actual NBA Finals. The Rockets have built their roster in recent years with an eye toward knocking off the Warriors, and they’ll have their best chance yet in this series. Still, Mike D’Antoni, Harden, and Paul have fallen short in the postseason in the past, and to reach the Finals this year, they’ll have to defeat a potential dynasty.

What do you think? Which team do you expect to represent the West in the NBA Finals this spring? Place your vote, then jump into the comment section below to discuss the series.

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Poll: Boston Celtics Vs. Philadelphia 76ers

On Monday, we asked you to make your pick for the Eastern Conference Semifinal that pits the top-seeded Raptors against the LeBron James-led Cavaliers. As I noted in that story, the Warriors and Rockets are significant favorites to advance in the West, and Boston’s injury-plagued roster makes the Sixers a big favorite in the other Eastern series.

However, in Game 1 of that Celtics/Sixers series on Monday night, Boston certainly didn’t look like an underdog. The C’s controlled the game, racking up 17 three-pointers and giving the Sixers’ offense problems on the other end of the court. Led by Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, and Al Horford, the Celtics won Game 1 in convincing fashion despite missing Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Daniel Theis.

Even after the Celtics’ Game 1 win, the Sixers are still favored by oddsmakers to win the series. In fact, the Celtics – up 1-0 in the series – are viewed as a longer shot to advance to the next round than the underdog Cavs are in the other Eastern Semifinal, which hasn’t yet started.

Those odds make sense — the Sixers may have been rusty after their long layoff between games, and we should expect point guard Ben Simmons to play better than he did in Game 1 (seven turnovers). Philadelphia probably won’t shoot 5-of-26 on three-pointers again either.

Still, the Celtics, led by Brad Stevens‘ inventive schemes, showed they won’t be pushovers. With Brown hoping to return soon and the C’s holding home court advantage for now, a long series looks like a distinct possibility.

What do you think? Will the Sixers bounce back and advance to the Eastern Finals, or will the Celtics build on Game 1’s win and maintain control of the series going forward?

Vote in our poll, then head below to the comment section to share your thoughts on the series!

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Poll: Toronto Raptors Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Although there’s plenty of intrigue among the NBA’s four Conference Semifinal matchups this spring, most of those series look like they have clear favorites.

A panel of nearly two-dozen ESPN experts unanimously selected the Rockets and Warriors to earn spots in the Western Conference Finals by defeating the Jazz and Pelicans, respectively. Utah and New Orleans looked great in the first round and could still give the favorites a run for their money, but their Game 1 performances didn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

In the East, ESPN’s panel heavily favors the Sixers over the Celtics in the first of two Eastern Conference series. If Kyrie Irving and/or Gordon Hayward were healthy, this would be a more fascinating matchup, but as well-coached as the Celtics are, they may not have the talent to keep up with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid for seven games. Despite holding home court advantage, Boston enters the series as a major underdog, with 18 of 21 ESPN experts picking the 76ers to win.

That leaves one series, the Raptors vs. the Cavaliers, as a potential toss-up. The analytics data – along with each team’s performance in the regular season and first round – favors the Raptors, but history favors the Cavs. After all, Cleveland has eliminated Toronto in each of the past two postseasons, winning eight of 10 games over the Raptors in those two series.

There’s reason to believe that this year’s Raptors squad can end that streak. The club is deeper than ever, featuring the NBA’s best five-man bench unit. Additionally, star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have bought into an offensive system that features more ball movement and less isolation play. That system has been a huge success all season long, including against the Cavs — the Raps averaged nearly 123 points per game vs. Cleveland in three regular season contests.

Still, the Cavs won two of those three games during the regular season. While LeBron James‘ play keyed those victories – particularly in a 35-point, 17-assist, 0-turnover performance in March – Cleveland’s supporting cast came up big too. Kevin Love, Jose Calderon, and Jeff Green played particularly well in the Cavs’ two wins over Toronto, and George Hill racked up 22 points in March’s game. If Cleveland’s role players can keep up that sort of production against the Raps in the postseason, it would take a huge load off James, who carried the team to a first-round win.

This will be a fascinating series to watch. Does LeBron still have Toronto’s number? Will he get more help vs. Toronto than he did against Indiana? Will the Raptors’ home-court advantage be a deciding factor? (Both of their regular-season losses to the Cavs came in Cleveland).

ESPN’s experts favor the Cavs by a 12-7 margin, but the oddsmakers at Bovada.lv view the Raptors as a 2-to-1 favorite. Which side do you fall on? Is this the year the Raps dethrone the King and end James’ streak of seven straight NBA Finals appearances, or will LeBron and the Cavs eliminate Toronto for a third straight season?

Vote below in our poll, then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Breaking Up The Wizards’ Backcourt

After winning their division and taking the Celtics to the brink in a second-round series last year, the Wizards entered this season among the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they settled for an eighth seed and a first-round elimination.

It appeared Washington might miss the playoffs altogether when John Wall underwent knee surgery at the end of January. However, the Wizards managed a 15-12 record in his absence, sparking whispers that the team was better without him because of better ball movement.

Backcourt mate Bradley Beal, who has been beset by injury problems in the past, played all 82 games for the first time. He emerged as a team leader in Wall’s absence, averaging 22.6 points per game and posting career-best marks in rebounds (4.4 per game) and assists (4.5).

Washington has its All-Star backcourt locked up for the foreseeable future, but at a very expensive price. Wall will make nearly $19.2MM next season, then will start enjoying the benefits of a supermax extension that pays him $170MM over four years. Beal is owed nearly $81.3MM over the next three seasons.

With Otto Porter also getting a rich new extension last summer, the Wizards have extreme cap concerns over the next three years. They are already nearly $15MM over next season’s cap without counting possible player options for Jason Smith ($5.45MM) and Jodie Meeks ($3.45MM).

Operating so close to the luxury tax, the Wizards are limited in their ability to shake up the roster without a major trade. We’re asking our readers if they think it’s time to consider moving Wall or Beal as a potential cap solution. Please vote in our poll and give us your opinion on how Washington should handle the offseason.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Should The Heat Trade Hassan Whiteside?

One season after going 41-41 and missing the playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Bulls, the Heat improved by three games in 2017/18 and made the playoffs as the No. 6 seed with a record of 44-38.

However, the Heat were faced with a difficult first-round matchup against the red-hot Sixers, who finished the season 16-0 and, just last night, eliminated the Heat from the playoffs in five games. Earlier today, we asked for your thoughts on Miami’s offseason outlook with a Community Shootaround post. Now, we want to know specifically whether you believe the Heat should trade Hassan Whiteside.

With over 20% of the team’s guaranteed salary for next season owed to Whiteside, the Heat dangerously close to the luxury tax in 2018/19, Whiteside’s playing time dwindling dramatically in the later part of the regular season and into the postseason, and Whiteside’s publicly voiced displeasure with his new role, President Pat Riley may need to decide this summer whether Whiteside is worth the headache and, if not, whether he can find a suitable trade partner for the big man.

Unfortunately for the Heat, they do not have a first-round pick this summer to attach to Whiteside’s contract which may make it difficult to entice a team to take on his contract. However, the Heat do have their 2019 first-round selection to deal if they so choose. Regardless, assuming a deal is tenable, what do you think?

If you were Pat Riley, would you trade Hassan Whiteside or would you keep him with the hopes that he can return to his 2016/17 form? Vote below in our poll, then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.