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NBA Championship Odds Rankings: Brooklyn Nets Tumble Out of First

One month ago, the Nets still say atop the mountain with the best odds to win the NBA championship this summer. After a wild trade deadline and a long losing streak, multiple teams have passed them in their bid to win the NBA Finals.
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NBA Championship Odds Rankings: Brooklyn Nets Tumble Out of First

Milwaukee Bucks (+800, Last Month: +650) (Bet $100 to Win $800)

I have been calling for (and predicting) some consistency from the Bucks for several weeks now, but they never seem to be able to put together a dominant stretch like we saw last season. They are now third in the conference not because they have been elite recently (6-4 in their last 10), but because Chicago is in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

Still, they sit a half-game out of second and just 3.5 out of first with 17 games to play. Philadelphia has outplayed them recently and passed the Bucks in the standings, which is why you have seen the teams swap positions over the last couple of weeks.

The problem for Milwaukee really has been an uncharacteristically bad stretch on defense. Over the last 10 games, they rank 26th in defensive rating and only 25th in opponents' field goal percentage. That seems to be something they can work out, as they still rank 12th in defensive rating on the season. The fact that some books have Milwaukee and Brooklyn tied in NBA championships odds is somewhat laughable. I would bet Milwaukee 100 times out of 100 if you made me pick from both at +800 odds.

Brooklyn Nets (+800, Last Month: +400) (Bet $100 to Win $800)

It only took more than 60 games and a record under .500 for the Nets to finally be knocked from atop their perch in the lead for the best odds to win the championship. Currently sitting 5.5 games out of the sixth seed and just two games out of the playoffs completely, the focus must turn to "can they stay out of the play-in tournament?"

One month ago, the Nets traded one superstar for another when they acquired Ben Simmons. According to the official update from their general manager Sean Marks, there is "no real timetable" for Simmons to return due to a back injury. Do the Nets' big three ever play a game together this season? Add in the murky situation regarding Kyrie Irving's vaccination status, and this is a team headed in the wrong direction.

Over the past month, Brooklyn ranks 24th in offensive rating and 29th in defensive rating. It's hard to see how they will be able to develop any consistency or cohesiveness with no Simmons and Irving sitting out half the games. I have no faith that will develop and still don't plan to buy in now that their odds have doubled to +800 just in the past few weeks.

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Philadelphia 76ers (+700, Last Month: +700) (Bet $100 to Win $700)

Unlike the Nets, the 76ers do have the whole band together and their performance has been exceptional since the addition of James Harden. They are tied with the Heat, Celtics, and Timberwolves (!) for the best record in the NBA over their last 10 games (8-2).

In fact, over the last 10 games, only the Phoenix Suns' starters have a better offensive rating than the new starting five for Philadelphia. That Harden-Maxey-Harris-Thybulle-Embiid lineup has a 130.9 offensive rating and also has the seventh-best defensive rating in that span. Those two dominant sides add up to the 76ers having the second-best net rating of any team since the trade deadline.

Why oddsmakers have not shortened their odds during this stretch remains a mystery. They now look like one of the serious contenders to win it all this June and are the favorites to make it out of the East with the Net's recent slide. I see tremendous value here for a futures bet.

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Golden State Warriors (+475, Last Month: +450) (Bet $100 to Win $475)

Just as the Warriors have stumbled out of second place in the Western Conference, they also fell slightly behind the Suns in the race for the best odds to win the championship. With defensive cornerstone Draymond Green and with Klay Thompson battling an illness recently, they have gone only 2-8 in their last 10 and now sit a half-game behind the Grizzlies for the second spot in the West.

Despite leading the league by a healthy margin most of the season, the last four weeks have not been kind to the Warriors on either side of the ball. In their last 15 games, they rank just 25th in defensive rating and 11th in offensive rating. They also have not rebounded well during this stretch, ranking just 19th in the league in rebound rate.

Green is targeting a March 14th return, and there is no reason to think they can't get the ship righted over the last month of the season. But they have dug a hole for themselves and right now they just have to focus on getting that two-seed and securing homecourt in the second round.

Phoenix Suns (+450, Last Month: +475) (Bet $100 to Win $450)

Even with Chris Paul out with a broken hand and Devin Booker strangely missing multiple games due to health and safety protocols (he is the only NBA player on the current injury report listed in protocols), the Suns have barely missed a beat. They have opened up an eight-game lead on Memphis and 8.5 on Golden State.

The Suns now have the best point differential in the entire NBA, a full point and a half better than the Warriors and Jazz. Unlike the Warriors, the Suns are still thriving on offense and defense while their stars miss time. Phoenix ranks fifth in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating over their last 15 despite missing their defensive MVP and offensive general in Paul.

With such a large lead for first, the Suns will be able to afford to rest players come April and get them ready for the playoffs while the rest of the conference jockeys for position and seeding. Positions two thru six in the West are all within 4.5 games of each other and there will be no letting off the pedal for those teams as the season winds down.

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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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