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NBA Championship Odds: Steph Curry Injury Opens the Door Wider for the Phoenix Suns

The Golden State Warriors NBA Championship odds took a massive blow last week with the news of Steph Curry missing an extended period of time due to injury. Ryan Kirksey takes a look at how this affects NBA Championship odds.
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NBA Championship Odds: Steph Curry Injury Opens the Door Wider for the Phoenix Suns

The Golden State Warriors NBA Championship odds took a massive blow last week with the news of Steph Curry missing an extended period of time due to injury. Ryan Kirksey takes a look at how this affects NBA Championship odds.

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2022 NBA Championship Odds

Philadelphia 76ers (+850, Last Month: +700) (Bet $100 to Win $850)

I can certainly understand the case for the 76ers trailing the Bucks in the odds to win the NBA Finals this season, but I can not for the life of me figure out why both would be behind the Nets. The 76ers are clinging to the third seed in the East by mere percentage points after a 6-4 stretch, and the battle between Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Boston seems destined to come down to the final days of the season.

In the month of March, Philadelphia has improved its offensive rating from 111.8 to 113.3. The addition of James Harden gives the 76ers an offense that attacks the rim more as well as more open looks to shooters and pick-and-roll opportunities for Joel Embiid.

Their defensive rating has dropped four points this month (and the Harden-stinks-on-defense zealots rejoice) so that would be the one weak piece of the armor that must be corrected before the postseason. But this team looks healthy and ready to compete. They have offense, they have defense, and they have a couple of mega-stars that can carry them to a title.

Milwaukee Bucks (+700, Last Month: +800) (Bet $100 to Win $700)

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Milwaukee, on the other hand, has been on a major hot streak, going 8-2 in their last 10 as they still fight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They are now tied with the Suns for the second-most points per game scored in the NBA and their +3.6 point differential is the second-best in the East.

Much like the 76ers, the Bucks' defensive rating has fallen off a cliff this month, coming in at six points worse than their seasonal average. It stems from the Bucks allowing 48.5% shooting this month when they have held opponents to just 45.3% on the year. We might see more of that if the Bucks start resting players down the stretch, but they should be able to clamp down in the postseason. In last year's playoff run, the Bucks were able to hold each of their three Eastern Conference opponents to 45% shooting or less.

It makes sense that the Bucks would make gains since the last iteration of this column, but like Philadelphia, it is confounding to see them behind Brooklyn for the best odds to win the title.

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Brooklyn Nets (+650, Last Month: +800) (Bet $100 to Win $650)

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There are actually some sportsbooks who have Brooklyn's odds as low as +475 to +550 to win the title. I just can't get on board with those odds considering the uneven nature of Brooklyn's season and the fact that it looks more and more unlikely that we won't see Ben Simmons this year.

It was reported just this afternoon that Simmons has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back and he had to receive an epidural last week. That would make the odds very low that he returns for the regular season. Do the Nets plan to just throw him into playoff games if he recovers by that time?

Then there is the Kyrie Irving vaccine-mandate situation. Really, it could better be described as a mess, because there is no better way to label it. Despite rumors that New York City might be lifting it's vaccination mandate for all employers in the city, their new Health Commissioner stated that policy would continue for an "indefinite" period of time. If "indefinite" stretches out to two more months, that would mean the Nets would also not have Irving for any home playoff games OR in any games in Toronto, who they currently would be matched up against for the Play-In Tournament.

You could not force me to put my hard-earned money on the Nets at this point. I would much rather take the 76ers or Bucks at these odds.

Golden State Warriors (+650, Last Month: +475) (Bet $100 to Win $650)

I suppose there could have been a worse time for Curry to suffer a foot injury, but not by much. Right when they got Draymond Green back and were poised to spend the final three weeks of the regular season meshing as a team, Curry goes down with a sprained ligament.

He is scheduled to be re-evaluated in two weeks which means he might make an appearance in a game or two before the playoffs if everything works out perfectly. Will be at full speed by the postseason in mid-April? Will he be ready to handle 38 minutes per night in the Western Conference gauntlet? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, oddsmakers dramatically dropped the Warriors' chances to win the title on the back of this news. When healthy, they remain one of the most dangerous units in the NBA, but that health question will be a big one as we approach the last day of the regular season on April 10. If you see signs that Curry is ahead of schedule and able to make a comeback before the postseason, that might present a betting opportunity here if the Warriors can hover around +600.

Phoenix Suns (+350, Last Month: +475) (Bet $100 to Win $350)

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With all of the player news about injuries, vaccines, eligibility, and movements, it's the Suns who received the best news at all. News that Chris Paul might be coming back early from a broken thumb forced Phoenix's odds up substantially since it is now clear Phoenix will be fully healthy and ready for the postseason.

If you didn't look too closely, you would think nothing changed despite Paul being out more than a month. In March, the Suns rank third in defensive rating and sixth in offensive rating, and their net rating is third-best in the league. They also rank top-ten in defensive rebound rate, fewest turnovers, and assist rate. They plugged in Cameron Payne for Chris Paul and it's like nothing ever changed.

With their win on Sunday, the Suns have now clinched homecourt throughout the 2022 playoffs. That fact, combined wit ofh the turmoil and injuries of the Western Conference teams behind them, puts the Suns in an ideal spot to make it back to the NBA Finals. Not since the 2019 Warriors has a team made it to the Finals in back-to-back years. But the smart money right now is on the Suns to fight their way back where they will test a tough challenge from the East.

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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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