As Round 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs continues, NBA championship odds have been changing pretty frequently. As of June 13th, here are the updated odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
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Brooklyn Nets +120 (2-1 vs MIL)
Utah Jazz +350 (2-1 vs LAC)
Phoenix Suns +450 (3-0 vs DEN)
Philadelphia 76ers +700 (2-1 vs ATL)
LA Clippers +900 (1-2 vs UTAH)
Milwaukee Bucks +1100 (1-2 vs BKN)
Atlanta Hawks +10000 (1-2 vs PHI)
Denver Nuggets +15000 (0-3 vs PHX)
Logically all bets should be on the Nets to win the championship. They have the most talented roster and are up 2-1 on the Bucks without their second best player (former MVP James Harden). As it went all season for them, their success depends on health (and safety protocols). If Harden's hamstring doesn't comply and he has to miss more time, the Nets could be in trouble.
As healthy as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving look now they are 2 players with serious injury history. KD is coming off of a torn achilles, and Kyrie has missed several playoff games throughout his career due to multiple injuries. One rolled ankle and we could have a new favorite to win the championship.
If you truly think that they will cruise to winning this title, +120 isn't horrible value. If Harden comes back from injury and performs at a high level that +120 could turn into a -200 or -300 real quick. As I said before they are the most fragile team in the playoffs, so bet at your own risk.
As they have been compared to before, these Jazz are eerily similar to the early 2010's Atlanta Hawks that had the best record in the NBA and then ran into prime-Lebron in the playoffs every year. In 2014-15 they had the best record in the NBA, just to be swept in the conference Finals by Lebron and the Cavaliers.
Check out this story by SLC Dunk about the comparisons between these 2 teams. The one big difference between the 2 teams is that Utah has a superstar in Donovan Mitchell, something those Hawks' teams didn't have. They also have a Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert and a 6th Man of the Year in Jordan Clarkson.
I would love to think that things are different for this team. I just don't see them beating Phoenix if they make it to the Western Conference Finals. As great as Donovan Mitchell is (Stephan A Smith crowned him the greatest player in franchise history, sorry Karl Malone and John Stockton fans), the Suns have Devin Booker. IF Mike Conley Jr comes back from injury, the Suns still have Chris Paul. Rudy Gobert is great defensively, but he hasn't had to worry about a center like DeAndre Ayton yet this postseason. The value at +350 just doesn't seem worth it.
After seeing them get blown out by the Clippers last night in LA, my confidence in them wavered.
My favorite bet right now is on the Suns. Maybe they got lucky that Anthony Davis was hurt in their Round 1 series win vs the Lakers, but they look like a wagon now. Up 3-0 on the Nuggets who just took down a really good Blazers team in 7 games. If the Nuggets had Jamal Murray this series would obviously be different, but maybe a little bit of luck was what Phoenix needed to realize their full potential.
Chris Paul is a 1st-ballot Hall-of-Famer. His entire career has been tarnished because he has never reached an NBA Finals. Here is his chance. He is the leader of a young team with a star beside him in Devin Booker. DeAndre Ayton holds down the paint, but the best part of this team is their role players. Everyone excels in their roles. Jae Crowder was brought in to play defense, shoot 3's, and be an enforcer. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson are on the court to defend and play off of Paul and Booker. Ayton knows he never should shoot the ball more than 2 feet away from the hoop. Layups, dunks, and effort is all they ask of the big man. Cameron Payne, who was out of the league last season, is there to bring energy off the bench and lead the bench unit when Paul isn't out there.
Lastly, the fans. These fans in Phoenix have been deprived of playoff basketball for awhile. They have far-and-away the best home-court advantage in the playoffs. You can hear the energy in the building when they have a home game. It's a bigger advantage since opposing players haven't heard noise like that since before COVID.
I love +450 for Phoenix to win the championship. I am confident they can beat anyone left in the playoffs except Brooklyn. It is definitely possible that they beat them if they meet, I'm just not quite as confident. Either way, getting a team that is sweeping their way to the Western Conference Finals at +450 is great value.
Joel Embiid is the last remaining outlier of these playoffs. Not that he is the best player remaining, but he creates the biggest mismatch with an opposing team. Clint Capela is attempting to stop him right now for the Hawks and Embiid is averaging 35.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2+ blocks per game. If Philadelphia can beat Atlanta they will most likely have a date with the Nets, another team that in theory has "centers" but would rather play small. Embiid is going to get his as long as these playoffs go on, so it is on the other 76ers to be able to do enough to win.
Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Seth Curry need to be able to get theirs on the offensive end. If it comes down to matching up with the Nets, the 76ers have the length to try and disrupt them. They have 2 of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA in Simmons and Matisse Thybulle. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor called Thybulle the "most disruptive defender in the NBA". I just don't think it will be enough firepower to keep up with a healthy Nets team.
Embiid might average 40 points and 20 rebounds in a series against Brooklyn, but none of it matters if they lose. Although +400 seems like good value for a #1 seed in the East, I would stay away from this one.
This is the other one I really like in terms of value. You're telling me that I can bet on a team with a 2-time Finals MVP, a former MVP-candidate and DPOY-candidate, with a Hall-of-Fame point guard off the bench at +900?
Although they haven't looked their best so far in these playoffs, they have survived. They were down 2-0 to the Mavericks and found a way to win. Luka Doncic was the best player they will face in the playoffs, no disrespect to anyone else, but he is the toughest player to create a gameplan for.
Now that they are past that, they have to find a way to stop Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz. They won easily in Game 3, after a couple close losses in Games 1 and 2. If they can even the series in Game 4, I'm confident they will win the series.
Looking ahead if they're able to beat Utah, their matchups with Phoenix and hypothetically Brooklyn are better than anyone else's. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can guard the other team's best players. If you want to save them for the offensive end and conserve their energy, Nic Batum, Marcus Morris, and Terrance Mann can take the defensive assignments. Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo can irritate the other team's point guards. Zubac and Demarcus Cousins can play big minutes if need be.
This Clippers team is dangerous. They have not nearly played their best basketball, and they're still afloat. If they can peak at the right time they could find their way to the first championship in franchise history.
As for the rest of the teams, I just don't see them having a shot.
Milwaukee won Game 3 vs Brooklyn. They're only down 2-1. But never again will Giannis and Middleton account for 80% of their team's points. They also won't hold the Nets to a point total in the 80s. They played their best game. Brooklyn Played their worst. And they still barely won. Good luck.
This Hawks team might just be one more all-star away from being a serious contender. Trae Young has showed he is the real deal. He just doesn't have much help. The ball is in his hands too much. You can surround him with shooters and lob-threats but until they have someone else who can create for themself and others, they can't win a title.
A tough year for Denver after they traded for Aaron Gordon and thought they had a real chance to make some noise in the playoffs. They were looking amazing before Jamal Murray tore his ACL. Jokic has cemented himself as one of the best players in this league, and the Nuggets are going to be scary once they're back to full strength.
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