Could a date with The King LeBron James be on the cards for Aussie Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers? Picture: Getty Images/AFP
Could a date with The King LeBron James be on the cards for Aussie Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers? Picture: Getty Images/AFP

The NBA playoffs from an Aussie angle

THE season after the season is under way in the NBA as 16 teams battle it out for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

It's the NBA's holy grail, but 16 teams - eight in each conference - will be whittled down to two for an epic NBA finals.

Basketball has enjoyed a reinvigoration in Australia and that is due to the record number of Aussies playing in the NBA - seven of them are on playoff teams, including boom Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons.

Here is everything you need to know about this year's playoffs and finals.

WHO ARE THE AUSSIES TO FOLLOW IN THE PLAYOFFS

While Rookie of the Year favourite Ben Simmons' stellar play has already made him one of the biggest names in Australian sport, six other Aussies will compete with his Philadelphia 76ers for a chance to hold the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Joe Ingles and Dante Exum in Utah, Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker in Milwaukee, Patty Mills in San Antonio and Aron Baynes in Boston round out the distinct Aussie playoff flavour, with little-used Charlotte Hornet Mangok Mathiang the only contracted Australian not to make it (Andrew Bogut left the Los Angeles Lakers in January).

Joe Ingles makes the Utah Jazz a must-watch team for Aussie basketball fans. Picture: AP
Joe Ingles makes the Utah Jazz a must-watch team for Aussie basketball fans. Picture: AP

 

WHICH TEAMS MADE THE PLAYOFFS? NBA PLAYOFFS ROUND 1 MATCH UPS AND ODDS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Houston Rockets (No.1 seed) $1.03 v Minnesota Timberwolves (8) $12

Golden State Warriors (2) $1.08 v San Antonio Spurs (7) $8

Portland Trailblazers (3) $1.42 v New Orleans Pelicans (6) $2.85

Oklahoma City Thunder (4) $1.75 v Utah Jazz (5) $2.10

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Toronto Raptors (1) $1.13 v Washington Wizards (8) $6

Boston Celtics (2) $1.62 v Milwaukee Bucks (7) $2.30

Philadelphia 76ers (3) $1.20 v Miami Heat (6) $4.50

Cleveland Cavaliers (4) $1.16 v Indiana Pacers (5) $5.25

Patty Mills’ San Antonio Spurs could have a date with MVP-favourite James Harden’s Houston Rockets — but they have the reigning champs to worry about first. Picture: AP
Patty Mills’ San Antonio Spurs could have a date with MVP-favourite James Harden’s Houston Rockets — but they have the reigning champs to worry about first. Picture: AP

NBA TITLE TOP FIVE ODDS

Golden State Warriors $2.25, Houston Rockets $2.60, Cleveland Cavaliers $8, Toronto Raptors $8, Philadelphia 76ers $21

*All odds provided by TAB.com.au

WHEN ARE THE NBA FINALS?

Game 1 of the finals series is slated for Thursday, May 31, US time, which means in Australia, fans can catch it on Friday, June 1.

The best of seven series will be decided when one of the two teams reaches four wins.

The last possible date is Sunday, June 17 in the US, Monday June 18 in Australia.

Can anyone stop the Warriors winning again? Picture: Getty Images/AFP
Can anyone stop the Warriors winning again? Picture: Getty Images/AFP

HOW THE FINALS WORK AND WHERE TO WATCH

A 2-2-1-1-1 format for which team hosts, with the club with the best record playing at home in the first two games of the series.

And you'll be able to watch them all on ESPN or NBA League Pass.

WHAT ABOUT THE ROY?

After a historic season, Simmons is the presumptive Rookie of the Year. But there is a groundswell of support for high volume Utah Jazz scorer Donovan Mitchell.

The rivalry between the pair has hit fever pitch with each player throwing barbs - supported by their fans - in the campaign for the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy.

But we will have to wait until after the NBA finals to find out if the voters did the right thing and gave it to our Ben, or inexplicably got sucked in by the hype and awarded the gong to Ingles' and Exum's young star teammate (no Aussie bias here at all).

Depending on who you speak to, Donovan Mitchell could beat Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year. Picture: AP
Depending on who you speak to, Donovan Mitchell could beat Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year. Picture: AP

The MVP - Rockets star James Harden is the favourite - Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year, among a raft of other awards will be bestowed at a gala night at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California

It's on Monday, June 29, at 9pm US time, which means it will be at 11am on Tuesday, June 30.

Platinum recording artist Drake hosted the event last year, but details of this year's talent are yet to be announced.



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