NBA Finals Odds: Betting On The West Seems Best
With the second round of the NBA Playoffs underway, the picture should be getting a little clearer. Unfortunately, a number of key injuries have thrown everything up in the air.
Here are the teams still in action and their odds of going all the way:
Phoenix Suns +230
Golden State Warriors +320
Boston Celtics +450
Miami Heat +500
Milwaukee Bucks +600
Memphis Grizzlies +1600
Dallas Mavericks +4000
Philadelphia 76ers +4000
Note: odds vary by sportsbook and change daily. See your local online sportsbook for latest lines.
Impact Of Injuries
As for the aforementioned key injuries, one in particular has had a profound effect on the playoffs and the odds. The Philadelphia 76ers were thought to have had a great chance of winning the Eastern Conference. That was until NBA leading scorer Joel Embiid went down with a season-ending injury. Once favored to win the East, the 76ers have now dropped to the bottom of the betting at +4000.
Other key injuries include Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton suffering from a sprained MCL and Phoenix’s star Devin Booker with right hamstring tightness. While Booker is scheduled to get back on the court against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semi-finals, Middleton has been ruled out of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the red-hot Boston Celtics.
Losing Middleton is a big blow to Milwaukee’s efforts to defend their NBA title from last year. While superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is capable of carrying a big burden, the absence of 20.0 PPG scoring support from Middleton could prove too big a loss to overcome. Even after winning Game 1, their odds of +600 seem stingy unless Middleton can recover.
As for Booker, he is already back on the court. However, one has to wonder if the hamstring injury is going to hold up on a team that likes to play at such a fast pace. With him healthy and on the court the Phoenix Suns are deserving favorites at +230. Without him, the team’s chances diminish severely.
Picking An NBA Champion
At this point in the playoffs, one thing seems clear. The balance of power leans towards the Western Conference. Yes, the Boston Celtics have really upped their game in the last month, but much of that play has been against fellow Eastern Conference foes. That raises questions about the level of competition the Celtics have been facing during its hot streak.
Most bettors believe the only realistic NBA Championship candidates are the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors. At a push some would even include the Memphis Grizzlies in the mix.
You can see why it’s hard to look past these teams. The Suns had the NBA’s best record by an incredible margin of 8 games over the Grizzlies and an unlikely 11 games over the Warriors. With Booker healthy and in the lineup, they look mighty hard to beat. However, the odds of +230 don’t represent much value given the real possibility Booker could reinjure the hammy.
The Warriors ended the regular season with five wins in a row and dominated the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs. It could be the team finally found its rhythm now that Klay Thompson puts more time between his injury and the level he has been playing at recently. But again at +320 there is not huge value to be found. The fact remains the Warriors have been very inconsistent over the last two months.
Meanwhile, what does the Memphis Grizzlies have to do to get respect from the oddsmakers? They went through the regular season with the second-best record in the NBA at 56-26. They were 3-1 on the season versus the Warriors and 2-1 against the Suns with the Suns always at full strength. How can +1600 not represent great wagering value?
With Embiid out, Ja Morant of the Grizzlies might well be the best player left in the playoffs. Yes, beating the Suns and Warriors in 7-game series is a tall order but they look likely to give bettors a good run for their money.