NBA Championship Odds: Warriors Make Their Move

In the latest dive into NBA Finals odds, NBA analyst Ryan Kirksey looks at the Nets' fall, the Warriors' rise, and the Suns finally entering the top five.
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NBA Championship Odds: Warriors Make Their Move

The odds for the presumed champion Brooklyn Nets drifted slightly after continued surges and two heavyweight matchups between the Golden State Warrior and the new kid in the top five: the Phoenix Suns.

Utah tumbles all the way out of the top five, making room for the Suns after their recent hot stretch. Meanwhile, the Bucks held steady and the Lakers dropped to fifth with the Jazz and Miami Heat nipping at their heels.

Who has the value if we don’t want to invest in the Nets? Let’s dive in and find out.

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5. Los Angeles Lakers (+1200, Last Week: +1000)

The Lakers continue to be able to string together any kind of consistency and have gone 4-6 in their last 10 games. Whether it’s injury, poor shooting, lackadaisical defense, or some combination of all three, this Lakers squad just has not found a way to gel yet.

Their latest shake-up was inserting Dwight Howard into the starting lineup with DeAndre Jordan with a DNP-CD. It didn’t put them in the win column against the Clippers, however, so now the Lakers are barely hanging onto the sixth seed and avoiding the play-in tournament.

Even with their odds tumbling, I don’t see any value here. Some sites even peg the Lakers’ chances of winning the title at less than 1% now.

4. Phoenix Suns (+1100, Last Week: Unranked)

Here were my thoughts two weeks ago on the Jazz after a rough patch of games:

“It’s a slight surprise the Heat or Suns haven’t passed them yet considering they were just 5-5 over their last 10 games, the Suns have won 13 in a row, and the Heat climbed up to third in the East.”

Well, fast forward two weeks, and not only did the Suns push out the Jazz, but they leapfrogged the Lakers as well. The loss to the Warriors four days ago snapped an unbelievable 18-game winning streak, but that loss also came with another blow as the Suns lost Devin Booker for a few games to injury.

He should return to the team in short order, so look for the Suns to continue winning and battling the Warriors for the top spot in the West all season. We certainly have seen that the Suns have championship potential, so with odds so much longer than the Warriors, this looks like a place to invest.

3. Milwaukee Bucks (+800, Last Week: +800)

The only team as hot as the Suns and Warriors lately would be the Bucks, who are 9-1 in their last 10 and still don’t have their full starting lineup back yet.

Once Brook Lopez and Donte DiVencenzo return, that should shore up the defense that is just middle of the pack in opponent’s points per game in the East. But Giannis Antetokuonmpo is doing his normal thing lately, leading the NBA in points per game over the last 10. He also averages 12.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.9 steals + blocks in that time while shooting 61% from the floor.

This is a team – when fully healthy – that can go toe to toe with Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference playoffs. We have seen them beat the Nets head to head on the road in a Game 7 last year, so if Milwaukee’s odds continue to trail the Net at this rate throughout the season, I will be taking some shots here. Besides the Heat, no other teams in the East pose a real threat to make the Finals at this point.

2. Golden State Warriors (+600, Last Week: +700)

The betting public is finally starting to take notice and push their chips in on the Warriors, dropping their odds down to +600 and getting ever closer to the Nets. I’m on record since the Warriors were +900 that this was the best value you could find for your money, so take advantage while the odds still overwhelmingly work in your favor.

Not much has changed for the Warriors over the past two weeks, which is a good thing for them. They still rank third in offensive rating, first in defensive rating, second in true shooting percentage, and ninth in assist to turnover ratio.

They get more offensive and defensive firepower added to the roster in a couple weeks when Klay Thompson and James Wiseman make their long-awaited returns to the lineup. With their returns penciled in for the Christmas Day game, that could be a gift that keeps on giving all the way through the NBA Finals.

1. Brooklyn Nets (+300, Last Week: +260)

The Warriors’ gain is the Nets’ loss for odds-makers. The gap is shrinking, but do we expect that to continue?

Alone atop the Eastern Conference, we may not see them leave that perch for the balance of the season. The only real drama for the sportsbooks may be can the Bucks eventually knock the Nets out of the top spot in the East, and if they do, how does that impact their respective odds.

The Nets have had a few stumbles in their last 10 games, but their three losses in that span are to the Bulls, Suns, and Warriors, all elite playoff teams. Their last eight wins have come against teams nowhere near Brooklyn in talent, so it remains to be seen if the Nets can match up against some of these contender teams and pull out a win. Apart from a win over the Celtics, the Nets have not beat a playoff team since taking down the Cavaliers on November 22nd.

We also have no news on the Kyrie Irving front, so if the Nets have to play out their season with a Big Two instead of a Big Three, it will significantly hurt their title chances.

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Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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