The trade deadline has passed and the NBA All-Star weekend is over. On Thursday, the teams return from their midseason break with one goal in mind: making the playoffs. Only 16 teams will advance to the postseason with the Top 8 teams of each conference advancing to the playoffs. From those 16 teams will emerge the next NBA champion and if you ask the oddsmakers, three teams are a cut above the rest right now.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angles Lakers, the teams with the Top 2 best record in the league right now are 1-2 in the odds board with the preseason favorites Clippers as the third team in their shortlist.
Here are the updated odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship. Odds were taken from SportsBetting as of 2/19/20:
|Milwaukee Bucks||+250||Los Angeles Lakers||+275|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+350||Boston Celtics||+1200|
|Houston Rockets||+1400||Philadelphia 76ers||+1400|
|Denver Nuggets||+1600||Utah Jazz||+1600|
|Miami Heat||+2000||Toronto Raptors||+2500|
The Bucks and the Lakers continue to go toe to toe on top of the odds board with the Clippers close behind. It seems that the oddsmakers think that this year’s championship has been narrowed down to a three-team race. The Boston Celtics are a far 4th while the Houston Rockets round up the Top 5.
But while the oddsmakers a high on Milwaukee and the LA Lakers, I think these two teams are very beatable not just in the NBA finals but in their respective conferences. When we talk about the Milwaukee Bucks, we talk about Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 2019 NBA MVP is having another MVP-worthy season but just as we saw in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals, the Bucks are easy to beat if you contain the Greek Freak. With Giannis jump shot still an issue, I think that teams like Toronto, Boston, and Philadelphia can do what the Raptors did to the Bucks last season.
As for the Lakers, I think that they will finish with the best record in the west, that is if neither LeBron James nor Anthony Davis gets hurt. James has been amazing in his 15th NBA season and he is even the NBA’s league leader in assists. Davis is by far the best big man that James has ever played with and the Brow has shown dramatic improvement in his outside shooting. As with what he did during the 2020 NBA All-Star game, James is willing to give Davis the spotlight and that has been key to the Lakers’ chemistry. Outside these two though, only Kyle Kuzma is scoring in double figures and he has been very inconsistent this year. The Lakers were reportedly eyeing to trade Kuzma at the deadline and that could affect his game as well. Unless their bench delivers consistent production, I’m not sure about going with the Lakers in a seven-game series.
So which team will I pick here? I will reserve my answer until we go through all the other NBA Finals bets.
Lakers to Win 2020 NBA Finals
- Yes | +275
- No | -335
I’m not too high on the Lakers right now because I think they don’t have enough depth to beat the elite teams in the league in a seven-game series. I mean the Lakers have beaten teams like Denver, Houston, and Utah already earlier this season. But they have failed to beat their cross-town rivals in their first two meetings of the season. If you ask me about this bet, I will pick the NO here. Between the Lakers and the 29 other NBA teams, I would go with the field.
Lakers, Clippers or Bucks?
- Lakers, Clippers or Bucks to Win NBA Title | -280
- Field ( Any Other Team) | +240
If you’re not sure about picking one team to win the NBA title, then you can go into the other NBA playoff special bets. The one above groups the Lakers, Clippers or Bucks as one choice and the rest of the NBA as the other pick. There is certainly good value in going with the Lakers, Clippers or Bucks because you have the best teams in the East and West plus the preseason favorites in this group. However, remember that only one between the two LA teams is going to make the Finals and given their current standings in the West, only one of them will make it to the Western Conference Finals. I mean, the West is still wide open with the likes of Denver and Utah also playing well right now. As for the East, Milwaukee holds a big lead over Toronto but teams like the Celtics and Raptors can give them a run for their money. This one’s a better bet than the previous prop bet because now you have three elite teams versus the rest of the league as your choices.
So will I go with the three here? The odds and value are better here but obviously, 3 vs 27 is still a big risk, even if you have the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks on one side. This is a bet I am considering though.
Conference That Will Win 2020 NBA Finals
- Western Conference | -240
- Eastern Conference | +200
If you want to have fewer choices, then this is the bet for you. The NBA Finals will be disputed between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference champions. So this bet isn’t about a particular team. This bet is 50-50. If we take a look at the history books, 12 out of the 19 champions beginning 2001 are from the Western Conference and four out of the last six NBA champions are from the West. The West has been perceived as the stronger conference for years but when you take a look at the current NBA team standings five teams from the East and five from the West comprise the teams with the Top 10 best record in the league at the All-Star break.
If you ask me though, I think that the West is still the stronger conference although the current champions are from the East. Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George are all playing for the West. This is an enticing bet.
Which Bet To Make?
I think it’s too early to pick a particular team that will win the NBA title. I’m not even sure that there will be a single solid favorite once the regular season is over. The Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks will always be in the mix, there is no question about that. But you can’t discount the dark horses and the under the radar picks. Because of these factors, I would rather go with conference betting. At -240, it even has better betting value than picking the trio of the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks which is currently pegged at -280.
I know the death of Kobe makes all of us nostalgic but don’t believe LeBron when he says they will win the title for Bryant. It’s a lot tougher than that. Bet on the Conference instead, it’s a 50-50 bet and the West has won more than the East during the current millennium. I’m picking the Western Conference at -240.