We've seen Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving share the court just seven times this season, and not once in the last two months. That hasn't stopped oddsmakers from pricing the Nets as lone favorites to win their first NBA title in franchise history.
Brooklyn (+180) jumped the Lakers (+200) on the title oddsboard at theScore Bet on Wednesday, just two days after the team ruled Harden out indefinitely following a setback during his injury rehab. Durant also left Sunday's game with a thigh contusion that will sideline him through at least Wednesday's contest, which will be the 35th time he's sat out this season.
In fact, the Nets' three stars have missed a combined 58 games entering Wednesday and have spent just 186 minutes together on the court. Among three-man lineups with that many minutes played, Brooklyn's trio ranks 27th in offensive rating (122.4) and a mere 231st in net rating (+8.4), and the team has outscored opponents by just 3.4 points per contest when all three are active.
The Nets are still title favorites at basically every bet shop, which is more due to their offensive upside rather than their demonstrated success. Is that a sustainable model? Last season, the Clippers entered the playoffs as title favorites despite sitting at least one of their two stars in 35 of their 72 regular-season games; they collapsed in epic fashion. The 76ers, led by two oft-injured studs, haven't escaped the second round since 2001.
Brooklyn isn't the only team dealing with injuries down the home stretch. The Lakers have been without Anthony Davis and LeBron James for a month, though Davis is expected back Thursday. The Nuggets lost Jamal Murray to a season-ending ACL tear last week; the Jazz nearly suffered a similar fate with Donovan Mitchell, who's expected to miss just a handful of games with a sprained ankle.
Still, that doesn't make it prudent to lay such a short price on the most injured team of them all, especially since we haven't seen this Brooklyn team succeed in the postseason. The Nets have serious issues defensively that will almost certainly get exploited in the playoffs, so anyone buying at this price is betting on their elite scorers to carry this group to a title - if they can stay on the court.
|Los Angeles Lakers||+200|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+700|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+9000|
|Golden State Warriors||+15000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+20000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+25000|
|New York Knicks||+30000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+50000|
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.