The Best NBA Title Odds are Out West. Who Holds the Crown Out East?
Alright NBA fans. We’re back for another weekly discussion about which teams have a legitimate shot at winning the title next year. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that the Golden State Warriors have gone to the NBA Finals in each of the last five seasons, winning three championships during that stretch.
But thanks to injuries, along with losing several key players during the offseason, the Dubs may not be in the playoff picture at the end of the season. In other words, the road to NBA glory has never been more wide open than it is right now. The short list of teams who were title contender favorites coming into the season included the LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks. Here’s an updated look at where those teams’ odds stand based on their performances over the past week (Dec. 16 through Dec. 22).
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Third-Best NBA Title Odds: Milwaukee Bucks (+400). Last Week’s Odds +450
Sure, the Milwaukee Bucks had the best record in the league last season. And yeah, they are the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals next year following Kawhi Leonard’s decision to join the LA Clippers. But this team has been playing off the charts through their first 31 games.
After posting three wins in four outings over the past week, not only are the Bucks the best team in the East, they also have the best record in the league at 27-4. They have the third-best offense in the league. They have the league’s top-rated defense. Their opponents are shooting just 41.4 percent from the floor and the Bucks have the best point differential in the NBA as well. While this team continues to come in at the No. 3 spot on the list, based on what we have seen thus far, it is time to start putting more stock into this ball club going forward.
Second-Best NBA Title Odds: Los Angeles Lakers (+300). Last Week’s Odds +325
The Los Angeles Lakers came into the season with the second-best odds to win the NBA title in 2020 and that trend hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, this ball club didn’t have too much to be excited about over the past week. After somewhat close losses against the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks, the Lakers fell flat in a 128-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets, giving them three losses in as many games.
As if the team suffering its first three-game losing skid of the season isn’t bad enough, it is being reported that LeBron James has sustained a thoracic muscle strain and he has been dealing with a lingering groin injury as well. Although James is expected to suit up against the LA Clippers on Christmas Day, Lakers fans can’t help but think about last season, when the team went into a tailspin after James missed 17 games with a groin injury. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can continue to keep pace with the Clippers if James is sidelined for an extended stretch.
Top NBA Title Odds: LA Clippers (+300 – No Change from Last Week)
The LA Clippers came into the season as the odds-on favorite to win the NBA title, and despite their up and down week, that trend has not changed. They began their weekly slate with a 120-99 win against the Phoenix Suns but followed that up with a 122-117 loss to the Houston Rockets. The Clippers responded with a blowout win (134-109) over the San Antonio Spurs. Then, they followed that up with a 118-112 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder – a game in which they led by 18 points in the first half.
Following their recent stretch of games, the Clippers are 22-10, good enough for the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. So why do the Clippers continue to have the best odds to win it all next year?
It is because they remain a top-10 team in offense and defense? Is it because they also have the fourth-best opponent shooting percentage, holding their opponents to 43.3 percent shooting from the field? Or is it because Leonard had one of the most memorable playoff runs in recent memory coming off a season in which he sat out 22 games? While the Clippers continue to be the perceived favorite, I’m going to go out on a limb by saying that this trend will change soon should their inconsistent play continue.