A surprising 108–103 loss to the Pelicans (45-37) as 5.5-point betting favorites on Wednesday dropped the defending NBA champion Spurs (55-27) from the No. 2 seed all the way down to No. 6 in the Western Conference, and they will begin defense of their title Sunday against the Clippers (56-26).
And that also put the Pelicans into the postseason for the first time in franchise history as the No. 8 seed against the top-seeded Warriors, who finished the regular season with a league-best 67-15 record.
The Warriors enter the playoffs as 11/10 favorites to win the West while the Spurs are the 2/1 second choice despite what could be a costly loss in terms of seeding. Only one No. 6 seed has ever won the NBA championship, the Rockets following the 1994-95 season.
San Antonio (55-27) finished one game behind the Rockets (56-26) for the Southwest Division title. However, the Spurs will still get the opportunity to prove themselves as the best team in the division since the second-seeded Rockets are in the same part of the bracket, with the teams potentially meeting in the second round.
Adding New Orleans to the mix means all five teams from the division will be playing in the postseason. The Pelicans are 75/1 to win the West and 150/1 to win the NBA title.
The other team from the Southwest in the playoffs is the fifth-seeded Grizzlies (55-27), who led the division for much of the season but went 5-6 down the stretch while the Rockets won 13 of 17 and San Antonio went 21-4 in its last 25 games, winning 11 straight before falling at New Orleans in the regular-season finale.
The Grizzlies are 12/1 to win the conference and 28/1 to win the championship, and they are matched up with the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) in the first round.
The Trail Blazers won the Northwest Division for the first time since it was formed for the 2004-05 season, and they are 22/1 to win the West and 40/1 to win the NBA title at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.