Who has the toughest road to the NBA title?

Updated: May 8, 2006, 3:17 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Not all brackets in the NBA playoffs are created equal.

Some teams, like the Memphis Grizzlies, have a slate so devastating that it seems virtually impossible for them to make it out of the first two rounds.

Others, such as Detroit, seem all but guaranteed to survive the opening round and have a relatively easy time of things in later rounds, as well.

In handicapping the playoffs, then, one of the questions we have to ask is: How hard is each team's path to the title?

Detroit and San Antonio, for example, seem relatively even on paper. However, long before the Spurs can contemplate a rematch with the Pistons in the Finals, they will have to contend with a mighty Dallas team in the second round. Since Detroit's obstacles aren't nearly as daunting (sorry, LeBron), one has to think the Pistons' overall odds of winning the title might be substantially better than San Antonio's.

To help answer this question, I developed a model of how each team's path through the playoffs might proceed.

This method allows us to come up with a more realistic answer to the ultimate question: Who will win the NBA title?

Not only that, but it reveals the odds for each team.


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