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The NBA Finals are over, which means bettors are already looking ahead to the 2021 title market. The Lakers are the favorites to repeat, as expected, and several other familiar names join them atop the oddsboard.
|Los Angeles Lakers||+350|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+450|
|Golden State Warriors||+500|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+4500|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+5500|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+7500|
|San Antonio Spurs||+12500|
|New York Knicks||+25000|
Our betting experts Alex Kolodziej and C Jackson Cowart broke down their best bets, favorite long shots, and teams to stay away from in the early market.
C Jackson Cowart: A little while ago, I was touting the Heat as the best bet to win the Eastern Conference, and I couldn't wait to bet them as a 2021 dark-horse title contender. Then they upset the Bucks and took the Lakers to six games in the Finals despite losing two of their stars in Game 1.
Still, give me all of the Miami stock I can get - even at this price. The Heat are built perfectly for the playoffs, as we just saw, and their myriad of rookies should improve heading into next year, especially on the defensive end. Rumors about this team chasing star power this offseason only draw me in further.
Alex Kolodziej: This field is absolutely stacked. As a bettor, I hate it; as a fan, I'm giddy as hell at how deep it is.
Let me get a piece of the Warriors. There's no question they have the experience and talent (and - even though I hate to say it - probably now more than ever, motivation). However, what really draws me to the Dubs is where I think this price could wind up down the road.
Previous Golden State squads - the healthy ones of course - have typically started fast out the gates. Although this field's littered with contenders, perhaps the public will jump back on the Warriors' bandwagon early, giving me a position where I could sell. If not, I wouldn't mind rooting for a team that chucks 29-footers on a whim.
CJC: Before the 2019-20 season, I was high on the Trail Blazers as a potential spoiler in the Western Conference race. Injuries decimated their frontcourt and nearly cost them a playoff spot, but once they were healthy, they tore through the bubble and stole the series opener from the Lakers before size won out.
Few teams in the league have the upside to beat any team on any given night, and that's what Portland can do when Damian Lilliard gets as hot as he did in the bubble. Depth is still a concern for this team - with this past season being evidence - but when they're in good shape, the Blazers are built to make a deep run.
AK: I legitimately started laughing as I typed this, but I like the Bulls at what I think is a pretty unfair price.
After reading what Chicago media had to say after the franchise cleaned house, it was clear that the Bulls' roster needed a shake-up. Really, we've yet to see the core - Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter - be utilized under proper head coaching. Those three players, along with the dynamic Coby White, are brilliant fits for a modern-day offense.
(And if you needed any more persuading, the underachieving Bulls were projected for three more wins on top of their actual record! Wow, 25-40 instead of 22-43 still just looks so, so sad.)
CJC: You couldn't pay me to place a bet on the Nets at +1200. Kevin Durant was playing at an all-time level when we last saw him, but we still haven't seen him play post-Achilles injury. And now he has to share the court with an enigmatic Kyrie Irving under the pressure of immediate title expectations. Color me skeptical.
You aren't alone if you've forgotten first-year coach Steve Nash - whose players are already undermining the legitimacy of his role as head coach - will be leading this team. There are too many red flags to pay a short price on this club, especially when you can bet the defending East champions at the same odds.
AK: Fair, but if you think I'm not going to root for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to wreak havoc in those Bed-Stuy City Edition unis this year, you're out of your mind.
Bettors have recently learned the gap between the Bucks and the rest of the conference isn't as large as we thought. Heading into next season, Milwaukee will again have plenty of competition when it matters.
The Heat have just come out of the East and obviously don't mind the underdog role; the Celtics are loaded with star power; the Raptors are well-coached and have the perfect mix of youth and vets; and then you have the Nets, who finally get Kyrie and KD on the same floor together; and then you have the Knick - ...
This is an easy pass for me.
(Odds source: theScore Bet)