As NBA teams hit their midseason stride, we’ve gotten a chance to see who the real contenders and pretenders are concerning the postseason. Obviously, teams can get hot or cold down the stretch, but now we have a good idea of which teams might make it to the finish line and contend for an NBA title.
Some of the NBA Finals favorites at the beginning of the season–namely the Lakers–have seen their championship odds drop off considerably after rough starts, whereas teams like the Clippers and Warriors have increased odds after surprisingly strong starts. Here are a few of the current favorites and some other high value picks using the updated futures odds, courtesy of Bovada.lv.
Miami Heat-2/1 to win Champ, 5/9 to win East
The defending champs are getting plenty of love from odds makers to repeat, despite having a worse record than several teams out West. Of course, with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on your team, you’re always going to have an edge in almost any playoff series, but these odds don’t give bettors an opportunity to make much money. I would say they are a big favorite to win the weaker East, as their only real competition will be the Knicks, but 2/1 to win the whole thing is pretty generous.
Oklahoma City Thunder-7/2 to win Champ, 9/5 to win West
Even after losing James Harden to the Rockets this offseason, the Thunder still have the one of the youngest and most talented squads in the league. There’s no question they are a big favorite to repeat as West champs and 7/2 is a decent value for them to win the title. I’d say, of the favorite, the Thunder are a solid pick here. They definitely have the talent to upend the Heat or the Knicks. I like the Thunder at these odds.
Los Angeles Clippers-5/1 to win Champ, 3/1 to win West
It’s safe to say everyone has been impressed by the Clippers so far this season and it’s also safe to say that this team is for real. This is easily the best team the franchise has ever seen and they have a real shot to win a title this year, but the obvious and biggest strike against them is that they lack postseason experience. Even the Heat failed to win a title the first year they got the Big Three together and the Thunder came close, but no cigar last year. Although I don’t think it’s the Clippers time quite yet, they are a pretty good pick to win the West. Yes, the West is very competitive with the Thunder and the Spurs in the mix, but after a 17-game win streak earlier this year, the Clippers proved they can dominate even the best teams in the league.
Los Angeles Lakers-14/1 to win Champ, 8/1 to win West
I’m highlighting the Lakers just to state what should be obvious to fans, but apparently is not to odds makers. The Lakers are dead! Avoid at all costs! It’s unfathomable how they are still getting decent odds, but this team has no shot at either the West or the title. Not only have they been banged up all year, but they have failed to mesh with their new acquisitions and even when hitting on all cylinders, they are not as strong as the Clippers or the Thunder. They hole they have dug for themselves is deep enough that it might as well be a grave.
Out of these squads, the Thunder represent the best value pick, although the Heat definitely have a good shot to win it again this year. One thing about the NBA is, you can surprise during the season, but there are rarely any surprises in a seven-game playoff series. The best teams will always prevail and those teams are still the Heat and the Thunder.