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., faces another Southwest opponent in the first round—the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks (50-32).
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.