With most teams having played 21-23 games, we are a little more than 1/4 of the way through the NBA season. Some of the preseason championship favorites and right where they should be at this point, but of course, there are a few that are lagging behind. And as always, there’s a few teams that have surprised many of the experts by jumping out of the gate with a lot of energy and a better team than many expected they would have. Here are the updated odds and the good looking picks to take down the NBA title this season (at least at this point in the year).
The Heat are still the overall favorite to defend their title and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be. Although they’ve tripped up in certain games (loss to the Wizards) and they haven’t looked as sharp at times, overall the Heat are still the team to beat. With a 14-5 record, ESPN.com has the Heat at 99.5% to make the playoffs and if they do make it, or when, they will certainly be a force to be reckoned in the postseason. With the talent and experience that they have, the Heat is not a bad bet to win it all, although it might not make you a ton of money.
Oklahoma City Thunder-4/1
The defending Western Conference champs are the second overall favorite. The Thunder have mostly the same squad that did it a year ago, except of course for James Harden, who was a huge piece of their success last season. Although the trade wasn’t necessarily a loss for the Thunder, which picked up Kevin Martin, you would have to assume that it will hurt them come playoff time. The Thunder wouldn’t be a bad pick to take that next step at 4/1 since they’ve been to the finals before, but without Harden things will be a little more difficult in those clutch moments.
Los Angeles Lakers-11/2
The Lakers’ early season struggles have been well documented and publicized and they are evidenced by their 9-13 record, but surprisingly they are still getting good odds to win the NBA title. With the talent they have assembled, it’s reasonable to think they could turn things around, but to bet these odds on them seems like a bad idea at this juncture. Until the Lakers can prove themselves and start winning games, I wouldn’t put too much stock in them, especially to win the NBA championship.
San Antonio Spurs-9/1
The Spurs are that perennial playoff team that is always good to bet on because of their consistency, but in terms of winning it all, they may be past their time and their prime. This year’s controversey surrounding resting players should be some kind of sign of that. Although it may be smart to employ those tactics during the regular season, that option won’t be available to the Spurs during the postseason. San Antonio is certainly a team that is capable of winning it all and at 9/1, it’s not a bad wager, but don’t count on the Spurs’ old legs holding up come game seven of a big playoff series.
Dark Horse Picks
Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks 15-1
Here are two teams that may not be among the favorites, but are off to hot starts that have placed them among the league’s best teams early in the season. There’s no question that both of these squads will be playoff bound and with these odds, they are certainly great money-making picks, so don’t be afraid to throw down a few dollars on either one, or both of these two.