NBA Championship Odds: Analyzing All 20 Playoff Teams
NBA Championship Odds: Analyzing All 20 Playoff Teams
The Play-In Tournament and playoff seeding are officially set, with 20 teams left with a chance to win the NBA championship. How does each team look right now and who provides the best value on your bets to win it all? Let's look at the NBA championship odds.
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NBA Championship Odds
San Antonio Spurs (+75000) (Bet $100 to win $75000)
There is a reason the Spurs are 34-48 and their odds are significantly worse than all of the other play-in teams. The Spurs are just 17th in offensive rating this year and are just 15th in net rating. They enter the playoffs on a three-game losing streak, and while Dejounte Murray is a fantastic talent, this recent illness (and the fact he lost eight pounds) should be taken seriously. Two road wins is a lot to ask of this team just to make it into the playoff bracket.
New Orleans Pelicans (+50000) (Bet $100 to win $50000)
The Pelicans will also have to win two games to make it in, but at least their first one is at home. The trade for CJ McCollum (and subsequent collapse by the Los Angeles Lakers) really propelled this team to a strong finish, but they still are just 18th in defensive rating on the year and have a terrible 17-24 record on the road. It would, however, be fun to think about what this team would look like with Zion Williamson.
Charlotte Hornets (+50000) (Bet $100 to win $50000)
The Hornets have an incredible offense (second in offensive rating their last 15 games). A miserable defense (21st in defensive rating), and also get the uphill battle of needing to win two road games (including at Brooklyn) to make it to the big bracket. This is a team you hope makes it more than two games because they are so fun to watch, but the Nets are one of the favorites to make it out of the East which means the Hornets' journey likely ends before they get to a series. The loss of Gordon Hayward is also a huge blow on both sides of the ball.
Atlanta Hawks (+16000) (Bet $100 to win $16000)
With the Hawks, we get into "it's crazy, but not as crazy others'" territory with the odds. Same story as with the Hornets where the Hawks would have to win two games including one (likely) in Brooklyn to advance to be slaughtered by the Celtics. The Hawks really pumped up the pace and the offensive efficiency the past 15 games (eighth in pace, seventh in offensive rating), but they are still without John Collins and are playing undersized except for Clint Capela.
Cleveland Cavaliers (+15000) (Bet $100 to win $15000)
All season, the Cavaliers were able to weather the storm of losing Collin Sexton, but after both Jarrett Allen and Evam Mobley went down late in the season, Cleveland went in a freefall as their vaunted interior defense suffered. They are still without Sexton and Allen, and they enter the play-in game against Brooklyn having lost seven of their last 10. On the season, Cleveland's defensive rating ranks fifth overall, but it's just 24th over their last 15 games. They have no momentum and a depleted squad heading into the play-in game, so I don't see much value in wagering on the Cavaliers to make a surprise run to the championship.
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Chicago Bulls (+10000) (Bet $100 to win $10000)
While they were able to hang on to the sixth seed and an automatic playoff berth, the Bulls are very similar to the Cavaliers' story. After their staunch defensive backcourt of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso were lost in injury, the team basically fell apart. The Bulls have the 26th-ranked offensive rating and the 28th-ranked defensive rating in the last 15 games. They also rank dead last in the NBA in three-point attempts per game, so if they find themselves down big to Milwaukee (which they will), it will be tough to shoot their way back in it. Both Caruso and Ball are still out and now Coby White is day-to-day. DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic would all have to have MVP-level performances to have a shot in this series.
Toronto Raptors (+8000) (Bet $100 to win $8000)
Now things start to get a little interesting with the fifth-seeded Raptors the same odds as the play-in bound Minnesota Timberwolves despite there being a potentially clearer path for Toronto. They first get Philadelphia who will be without defensive stopper Matisse Thybulle for the Toronto games because of his vaccine status. One of the Celtics or Nets will be knocked out in the first round, and Toronto would get the Heat in round two who have the lowest implied championship odds of all the East's contenders. The problem, of course, is no home court in any round and potentially facing a Western Confernce gauntlet like Phoenix. The Raptors are tied with Boston for the best defensive rating over the last 15 games and we know Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are no stranger to big games. I would throw a unit or two at Toronto as one of the best longshot options out there.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+8000) (Bet $100 to win $8000)
I love the story this year and Karl Anthony-Towns is such an easy guy to root for, but there is a reason the Clippers' odds are half of what Minnesota's are despite Minnesota hosting their play-in game. Despite some incredible offense over the last month, the Timberwolves are 22nd in defensive rating over the last 15 games and rank 26th in rebound rate in that span. Better luck next year.
Los Angeles Clippers (+4000) (Bet $100 to win $4000)
When you check the numbers on the Clippers to actually make the playoff bracket, you have to pay -400 for "Yes." That's because they are anywhere from pick-em to just +3 point underdogs to win their game on Tuesday. They have the best player in Paul George and a slew of valuable role guys like Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac, Reggie Jackson, and the NBA's three-point percentage leader in Luke Kennard. If the Clippers can get through Minnesota, then they have close to a week to see if they can get Kawhi Leonard on the floor. If that happens, all hell breaks loose in the West considering the injuries to other teams. Just something to think about before their games tips off tomorrow night.
Utah Jazz (+3000) (Bet $100 to win $3000)
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Jazz need to show me they can actually get out of the second round if they ever want to be taken seriously as a Finals contender. They have reached the Western Conference Finals once since 1998 and they were destroyed by a Clippers' team without Kawhi Leonard in the second round last season. Until they make that move, I am out on the Jazz.
Denver Nuggets (+3000) (Bet $100 to win $3000)
Denver coming in at +3000 is an exercise in looking at just how far one transcendent, elite player can take a squad. The Nuggets have all but come out and said that Jamal Murray and Michael Porter won't be coming back for the playoffs, so can Denver beat a could-be-vulnerable Golden State team? They would then face the challeng of a healthy Memphis and rolling Phoenix teams. Jokic in the playoffs is going to be a ton of fun, and he deserves the MVP award this year, but that doesn't mean he deserves your bet to cut down the nets in June.
Dallas Mavericks (+3000) (Bet $100 to win $3000)
Luka Doncic going down with a calf injury Sunday literally could not have come at a worse time for the Mavericks. They host the Jazz beginning on Saturday so he now has less than a week to recover from what the team is calling a calf strain that is going to be under the MRI lens soon. If Luka is out for the first round or even a big chunk of the first round, forget about it. Doncic is second in the NBA in usage rate (36.8%) and first in assist rate (45.8%). That means 82% of their offense runs through him when he is on the floor. Dallas would be a complete trainwreck without him present. I'm not touching the Mavericks regardless, but certainly not without a health Luka Doncic.
Memphis Grizzlies (+1600) (Bet $100 to win $1600)
This last group of eight represents the teams who have - many believe - a legitimate case to win the title this year. Start with the Grizzlies who surprised everyone with a 56-26 record and second seed in the West despite losing the eventual Most Improved Player Ja Morant for 25 games. The Grizzlies have a sparking 30-11 home record and will have home court for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, where they enter on a hot streak winning seven of their last 10. And this isn't the Rise and Grind Grizzlies of yesteryear, either. They rank fourth in offensive rating and fourth in pace this season and can outgun opponents from anywhere. And they also cracked the top ten in defensive rating, just for good measure. I can certainly see some of my American dollars finding their way to the Grizzlies this week.
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Philadelphia 76ers (+1400) (Bet $100 to win $1400)
It's officially put up or shut up time for both James Harden and Joel Embiid. We already know that Embiid feels slighted by the eventual news that he likely won't win the MVP award, so does he go out and prove voters wrong in the playoffs? Can Harden get the big-game-bust monkey off his back that has saddled him his entire career? Can they survive potentially two games in Toronto without Thybulle who would normally be called upon to lock down Fred VanVleet? As an offical pick, I am predicting the 76ers make it all the way to the Conference Finals, but lose to either Boston or Milwaukee. So while I likely won't be placing any bets here, a dominant won't-let-you-lose player like Embiid is certainaly the force you want when making a run.
Miami Heat (+1200) (Bet $100 to win $1200)
It would be an interesting research project to look back and see if there was ever a number one seed in a conference who entered the playoffs with five other teams favored to win ahead of them, or if another number one seed was ever as low as +1200 to win the Finals. It's quite the disrespect for a team that spent 25 games without Jimmy Butler and 19 games without Kyle Lowry yet still finished first in the East by two games. Over the last 15 games the Heat rank top-ten in both defensive rating and defensive rebound rate. They have the sixth man of the year in Tyler Herro and a dead-eye three-point shooter in Duncan Robinson. This team has all the tools to make a long run and will have homecourt until the Finals. The Heat are certainly worth some speculative bets.
Boston Celtics (+1100) (Bet $100 to win $1100)
Strangely, if there is one injury that could determine the fate of this whole Eastern Conference picture, it might be Robert Williams. (I don't count Ben Simmons for reasons discussed below). The Celtics have been so good since the All-Star Break, it's hard to think of them losing any series at this point, but the Robert Williams factor is real and must be considered. Williams led all players in individual defensive rating this year (102.4). His rim protection and rebounding are so valuable, that it's hard to even quantify what they mean. But let's try. In the last 15 games, the Celtics' opponents shot 44.8% from the floor (43.4% on the season). They Scored 106.4 points per game (104.5 on the season). Defensive rating on the season is 106.2, but 108.9 in their last 15. His absence has affected a defense that is still elite without him but is downright unpenetrable with him in. They may get one of their toughest tests right out of the gate with Brooklyn, but if they can weather that storm and get Williams back, the East might be theirs for the taking.
Golden State Warriors (+1000) (Bet $100 to win $1000)
I am not sure if the Curry-Poole-Thompson-Wiggins-Green lineup is how they plan to run it out during the playoffs, but in my research through the NBA lineups page, it seems that five-man lineup has played zero minutes together this season. In the playoffs, things like that matter, such as when a player likes to make a cut or how aggressively they push through a pick-n-roll. Timing is everything when every possession is important. That assumes, of course, that Steph Curry is healthy for the postseason. He is supposed to be reevaluated this week with a determination about his availability made closer to this weekend. If he is out, of course, then the Warriors are not going anywhere near the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Hold off on your bets until you hear more about Curry.
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Brooklyn Nets (+700) (Bet $100 to win $700)
I still just don't see it. Yes, they have two of the top 15 players in the league, and both can take over a game in a superior fashion. But the supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired, especially given the uncertainties of Ben Simmons. We keep seeing snippets of him at practice or working out, but there have been no reports of scrimmages, three-on-three practice, or ramping up running to get game-ready. I would be surprised if he does anything than make a cursory appearance as a last-ditch effort in this first-round matchup with the Celtics. Personally, I find it kind of appalling that the Celtics are sitting here with worse odds when they have home court and one of the best premier offense-defense combos in the league since the All-Star Break. I, for one, will not be betting on Brooklyn. Want to make the case against it, hit me up @kirkseysports on Twitter. I would love to hash it out with you!
Milwaukee Bucks (+550) (Bet $100 to win $550)
There may be very few people who want a rematch of last year's Finals, but that's what the odds say is likely to happen. Their decision to tank the last game of the season and finish third may have long-term benefits for their chances of bringing home back-to-back championships. If they dispatch Chicago in the first round (and we know the Bulls are in a tail-spin, but the Bucks also swept Chicago this year), they will escape to the second round knowing one of Boston or Brooklyn has been eliminated. Their two closest odds competitors are cut down to one without the Bucks having to do any of the heavy lifting. Then they need to get past the winner of the BOS/BKN series, where they will know that Miami and Philadephia have played and one has been knocked out by the time the East Finals come around. With Giannis at the helm, the offense is humming right now. The Bucks finished third in the NBA in offensive rating. It's difficult to pick a winner between Milwaukee, Boston, and Miami right now, but I think my money is on Milwaukee.
Phoenix Suns (+275) (Bet $100 to win $275)
Beyond just the dominant regular season performance, everything seems to be breaking the right way for them. All of Luka Doncic, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Ja Morant, Dejounte Murray, and Brandon Ingram are either injured or coming off of an injury. The Suns never have to have a Game 7 on the road, and even if they did, their 32-9 road record is better than any other team's home record. In the last 15 games, they are top ten in both offensive and defensive rating, and their assist-to-turnover ratio is the fifth-best in the league during that span. The more I think about it, the more I find it hard to see another West beating them four times in seven games. Even at +275, the Suns are one of the better values you can find.
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.