The NBA Playoffs begin today inside the Disney Bubble in Orlando, Florida. Oddsmakers at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas list the Los Angeles Clippers as a slight favorite to win the 2020 NBA championship at 11/4 odds. The LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks are right behind the Clippers at 3/1 odds to win the title.
For the better part of the season, the triumvirate of the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks were the betting front runners. However, oddsmakers weren’t impressed with what they saw from the Lakers during their eight-game restart inside the bubble. The Lakers struggled with a 3-5 record.
2020 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
LA Clippers 11/4
LA Lakers 3/1
Milwaukee Bucks 3/1
Boston Celtics 10/1
Toronto Raptors 10/1
Houston Rockets 18/1
Denver Nuggets 20/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 30/1
Miami Heat 40/1
Portland Trail Blazers 40/1
Dallas Mavericks 60/1
Utah Jazz 60/1
Philadelphia 76ers 80/1
Indiana Pacers 200/1
Brooklyn Nets 1000/1
Orlando Magic 2000/1
The Lakers and Clippers seem to be on a collision course to determine which of the two LA-based teams will represent the Western Conference.
The consensus among insiders all season suggested the Lakers/Clippers winner would inevitably meet the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals. With the NBA playoffs set to tip-off shortly, that feeling still pervades.
The Favorites: Clips, Lakers, and Bucks
The Lakers began quarantine with the best record in the west at 49-14. During lockdown, they added LeBron James’ bestie, JR Smith, to the roster to provide an additional scorer.
The Lakers (52-19) ended the restart on a 1-4 skid, which left many prognosticators scratching their heads. They still managed to secure the #1 overall seed in the west, despite a losing record inside the bubble.
The Clippers (49-23) went 5-3 in the restart, including a 4-1 run to end the regular season. One of their losses occurred against the smoking-hot Phoenix Suns, who went 8-0 inside the bubble. The Clippers upswing, coupled with the Lakers downswing, is the sole reason the Westgate SuperBook pegged the Clips as the slight odds favorite to win the NBA championship. The Clippers are now 11/4 odds to win the title, compared to 3/1 odds for the Lakers.
The Milwaukee Bucks (56-17) unleashed an 18-game win streak at the onset of the season, which put the Bucks on pace to win 70 games. Once the pandemic happened, their quest for 70 wins ended. The Bucks also struggled in the restart with a 3-5 record. Even the Greek Freak didn’t seem like his old self. The Freak sat out the last game of the regular season due to a suspension after he head-butted Mo Wagner.
The Bucks are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference at 3/1 odds to win the NBA title.
The Chase Pack: Celtics, Raptors, Nugs
The teams in the chase pack offer up the best value. But do any of them have an actual shot at the championship?
If anyone upsets the Milwaukee Bucks (56-17), the Boston Celtics seem like the most likely culprit at 10/1 odds to win the title. Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker will be fun to watch this postseason, but can the Celtics’ frontline contain the Freak?
The Celtics (48-24) went 5-3 inside the bubble, including a meaningless loss against the Washington Wizards at the end of the restart.
The Toronto Raptors (53-19) went 7-1 in the restart with their sole loss coming against the Celtics. The defending champion Raptors, who flew under the radar all season without Kawhi Leonard, locked up the #2 seed in the east
The Houston Rockets (44-28) secured the #4 seed in the west, but they’ll be without Russell Westbrook at the start of the postseason. Westbrook injured his quad and is expected to miss Game 1 of their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Denver Nuggets (46-27), led by a slimmed-down Nikola Jokic, might be worthy of a flier. While the Lakers and Clippers are getting all the love in the west, the Nugs could ambush both LA teams to secure a spot in the NBA Finals.
The Nuggets are directly affected by the NBA bubble because of their lack of a home-court advantage. Playing games in Orlando at sea level isn’t the same struggle for opposing teams who visit the Mile High City of Denver. The Nugs went 3-5 in the restart, but two of their victories occurred in overtime.
Don’t sleep on the Portland Trail Blazers (35-39) at 40/1 odds to win the NBA Championship. If anyone can upset the Lakers in the first round, it’s Damian Lillard and the Blazers. Portland went 6-2 inside the NBA Bubble to secure the #8 seed.
The Blazers also won the play-in game against the #9 Memphis Grizzlies. Lillard dropped 31 points in the victory, including a super-clutch 14-for-14 performance from the free-throw line.
The unstoppable Lillard posted back-to-back 50-point games during the restart, including a 61-point outburst against Luka Donic and the Dallas Mavericks. He joined Wilt Chamberlin as the only other NBA player to score three or more 60-point games in a season.
If you’re a Lakers’ fan, you should be sweating … hard. The Blazers are a team on the rise, while the Lakers didn’t look like a championship-caliber team during the restart.