While it is the postseason we are technically not in the playoffs yet. The NBA’s decision to include the play-in tournament made for an exciting end to the regular season despite a number of players vocalizing their displeasure over the new format. It also creates an odd situation for the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, who dropped into the play-in tournament after second half struggles due to Anthony Davis and LeBron James injuries. While the Lakers face the Golden State Warriors in one play-in game and need one victory while potentially playing twice, they are still a favorite on the board to repeat, right behind the Brooklyn Nets.
The team with the best regular season record in the NBA isn’t getting a lot of respect from oddsmakers. The Utah Jazz, who finished one game better than Phoenix in the Western Conference and the entire league with a 52-20 record, hit the board as the fourth favorite. And while the Nets finished one game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, they are the betting favorite with the Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving getting set to hit the floor together, something that didn’t happen that often after Harden was acquired in January.
Here are the updated NBA Championship odds.
Odds to Win 2021 NBA Championship
Brooklyn Nets +200
Los Angeles Lakers +380
Los Angeles Clippers +500
Utah Jazz +650
Milwaukee Bucks +800
Philadelphia 76ers +800
Phoenix Suns +1200
Denver Nuggets +2500
Miami Heat +2800
Dallas Mavericks +4000
Portland Blazers +5000
Atlanta Hawks +5500
Boston Celtics +6000
New York Knicks +6000
Golden State Warriors +8000
Washington Wizards +8000
Indiana Pacers +15000
Memphis Grizzlies +15000
Charlotte Hornets +20000
San Antonio Spurs +25000
(Odds provided by BookMaker.eu as of Monday, May 17 10:05 a.m. ET)
Season So Far
It’s been a wacky season so I guess it wouldn’t be out of the question to expect some strange happenings in the postseason. But all that regular season stuff is behind us and the real games begin with 20 teams vying for the ultimate prize. We have to start with the defending champs, who made a late season charge after Davis and James returned from their injuries. And the Lakers will go only as far as the duo takes them. The Lakers were 21-7 and the favorite to win the title before AD went down in mid-February. James joined him on the shelf a few weeks later and the Lakers limped to the finish line.
The Lakers won five in a row to finish the regular season and they could be the most dangerous lower seed since seeding began back in the 1980s. What makes them so dangerous also makes them vulnerable. They skidded without AD and James barely holding off Golden State to finish seventh in the conference. The two leading scorers are back as is Dennis Schroeder making them as whole as they’ve been in several months. “I don’t look at our seeding, it doesn’t matter,” James said. A short offseason following their title last season may have caught up with them, and the season is only another injury to James or Davis from being over.
The Jazz earned the top record in the league thanks to dominant play in their building where they won 31 of 36 games. That makes them a threat since they have the home court advantage in every series. Phoenix was a surprise fighting with the Jazz all season for the top spot in the West. Other than Chris Paul they don’t have much playoff experience, which is why they are further down the odds board despite having the second-best record in the NBA.
Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers
Denver and the Clippers both finished with 47 wins giving you an idea of just how tough the West is. Both clubs are more than capable of making a run and they have motivation after the last postseason. The Clippers have never played in a conference final and were denied a chance last season, blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets in the second round. The Clips vowed to be better after last season’s collapse and they have the ingredients to challenge for a title.
Posting the best record in the NBA the previous two seasons then crapping out in the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks changed tactics this time around. They have the most dominant player in the league in two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and though they weren’t as good record-wise, they have a roster that appears to be better at handling the grueling playoff run. Based on talent alone the Nets are the favorite. There is some concern over team chemistry, though, since the Big Three has played together in just eight games since the January blockbuster.
2021 NBA Championship Prediction
Our pick: Milwaukee Bucks
The race for the O’Brien Trophy looks to be as wide open as ever. It’s hard to trust the health of the defending champs and the favored Nets, while boasting a talented roster, have some chemistry issues. The Bucks aren’t getting a lot of attention heading into the postseason and that’s just the way they want it. And at a nice price I have no problem backing the best player in the league. Visit BookMaker.eu for updated odds when you’re ready to throw down on your favorite team.
Check out the latest NBA odds.