When LeBron James tumbled to the floor on Saturday with a severe ankle injury, the rest of the NBA smelled blood in the water. Bettors sensed the danger as well, which is why the Brooklyn Nets are the new consensus betting favorite to win the 2021 NBA Championship at +200 odds, according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
The Lakers are still the second-highest team on the futures board at +400 odds. LeBron will miss at least a month, but could be out until May. Anthony Davis’ calf injury has yet to heal, but the Lakers have been evasive on the extent of the injury.
Without a healthy LeBron and the unknown health status of Davis, fading the Lakers is the logical choice with the Brooklyn Nets (29-14) playing well with two-thirds of their Big 3.
|2021 NBA Championship Odds
- Brooklyn Nets +200
- LA Lakers +400
- LA Clippers +600
- Utah Jazz +700
- Milwaukee Bucks +1000
- Philadelphia 76ers +1600
- Phoenix Suns +2000
- Denver Nuggets +2500
- Portland Trail Blazers +3000
- Miami Heat +5000
The Brooklyn Nets (29-14) are only one game behind the Philadelphia 76ers (30-13) in the fight for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets were a popular futures pick since preseason, and that was before Kevin Durant played his first game with the team after missing last season while recovering from a blown Achilles. After James Harden headed to Brooklyn in a four-team trade, the Nets inched closer to the Lakers in championship odds.
Don’t Sleep on the Freak
Only 1.5 games separate the top three teams in the Eastern Conference, but there’s a vast gap in the championship odds among the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia 76ers.
The second-place Nets are the favorite at +200 odds to win the title versus the Lakers at +250 championship odds last week. The Philadelphia 76ers (30-13) are the top team in the East, yet are only +1600 odds. After Joel Embiid injured his knee last week, the 76ers also saw their title odds slip. The Milwaukee Bucks (28-14) trail the Sixers by 1.5 games, but you can back them at +1000 odds to win the NBA title.
The Nets garner all the attention, which is why Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo and the Bucks offer the best value from the East on the futures board. The Bucks won more games than any other team during the previous two seasons, and locked up the #1 seed in the last two postseasons. In 2019, the Bucks were bounced by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals. Last season, the Freak disappeared during a disappointing first-round upset by the Miami Heat.
The Bucks added Jrue Holiday via trade because he has stellar two-way skills. He boosted the offense as an additional scorer aside from the Freak, but he’s also a lock-down defender, which the Bucks lacked in the postseason.
Still No Love for Jazz and Suns
The LA teams get the majority of attention from fans, bettors, and the media. The Lakers (28-15) slipped to +400 odds, but the Clippers (28-16) are right behind them at +600 odds. Both teams are mentioned in trade rumors that would add an additional scorer before the trade deadline. The Clippers eyed Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards, but Kyle Lowry was linked to both the Clippers and Lakers.
With Lebron down, the West is wide open with five other teams that could win the Western Conference.
By the All-Star break, the Phoenix Suns (28-13) surged ahead of the Lakers and Clippers, moving into the #2 seed in the Western Conference playoff standings. Bettors are still wary of the untested Suns, who are only +2000 odds to win the title.
The marketplace has yet to develop a deep faith in the Utah Jazz (31-11). The Jazz are only 7/1 odds, despite leading the NBA in victories.
The Denver Nuggets made a true name for themselves as a “never say die” squad during the 2020 playoffs. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were fun to watch, but ran out of gas in the Western Conference finals. After a slow start this season, they’re playing some of their best ball of the year. The Nuggets are +2500 odds to win the title and are worthy of a flier at that price.
Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers (25-17) held their own while CJ McCollum recovered from a fractured foot. Now that McCollum’s back, the Blazers are looking to move up the playoff seeds from #6 to the top three. Dame and the Blazers are +3000 odds to win the title.
The Long Shots: Celtics, Mavs, Knicks
In the Western Conference, four teams are on the bubble, including the Dallas Mavericks (22-19), Golden State Warriors (22-21), San Antonio Spurs (22-18), and Memphis Grizzlies (20-20). Luka Doncic and the Mavs are +5000 odds to win the title even though the young Doncic has yet to win a playoff series.
The San Antonio Spurs are four games over .500 and hold onto the #7 seed in the West. The Spurs are +10000 odds to win the championship.
|2021 NBA Championship Odds
- Boston Celtics +5000
- Dallas Mavericks +5000
- Golden State Warriors +6000
- San Antonio Spurs +10000
- Toronto Raptors +10000
- Indiana Pacers +20000
- Atlanta Hawks +20000
- Washington Wizards +30000
- New York Knicks +30000
- Charlotte Hornets +30000
- Memphis Grizzlies +50000
The Eastern Conference has three elite teams and a half-dozen teams clustered together in mediocrity. The Boston Celtics (21-22) are a troubled team that stumbled through the first half with numerous injuries. They need a scoring boost off the bench, but are still a long shot at +5000 odds to win the championship.
The Atlanta Hawks (22-21) jumped into the playoff hunt after they were propelled by an eight-game winning streak to move into the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The New York Knicks (21-22) sit in the #7 seed. The Knicks were linked to Victor Oladipo, but don’t want to give up too much draft capital to acquire him from the Houston Rockets.
The Charlotte Hornets (21-21) are on the Eastern Conference bubble, but their future looks grim without Rookie of the Year candidate LaMelo Ball, who fractured his wrist over the weekend.