- The Philadelphia 76ers are in first place in the Eastern Conference with championship odds of +1200
- The Phoenix Suns sit in second in the Western Conference with championship odds of +1400.
- Both teams seem undervalued in the championship race behind the Nets, Lakers, Bucks, Clippers and Jazz. Are they good bets at their current odds?
The first thing you need to know about the Philadelphia 76ers is that their coach, Doc Rivers, is all-in this year from a mentality standpoint after being embarrassed last season when his Los Angeles Clippers lost a 3-1 lead against Denver in the playoffs. He has Joel Embiid playing the best ball of his career, and he has similarly motivated Ben Simmons.
But the 76ers are +1200 to win the title. Are they being undervalued?
And then we have the Phoenix Suns, who are even longer at +1400 yet are only a half-game out of first place in the Western Conference behind the Utah Jazz and own the tiebreaker. The Suns went 3-0 against Utah, which should be as good of an indication as any that they are a damn good team.
Are they even more undervalued than the Sixers?
Odds to Win 2021 NBA Championship
|Team||Odds to Win NBA Championship|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+350|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+500|
Odds from DraftKings as of May 4th
Why Are the Nets And Lakers Still Such Heavy Favorites?
In the case of Brooklyn, it is mostly because they have appeared unbeatable the few times that Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have played together. But that threesome has played only seven games together, and Brooklyn has used 34 different starting lineups. The thinking at the sportsbooks is that the Nets will be healthy and ready by late May when the playoffs begin.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are a dumpster fire yet their odds have not moved. They had lost six of seven before beating Denver last night, which is one of the reasons why the Nuggets are eighth in the chart above. The Lakers also draw more bets from the West Coast than any other team, and the books price them low because of their exposure.
But the Lakers are not a happy team, which was plainly evident Monday morning following their loss to the lowly Toronto Raptors. LeBron James excoriated whoever came up with the idea of a play-in tournament for the teams that finish the regular season 7th through 10th, saying somebody needs to be fired. Other Lakers were as negative as they have been all season.
These were remarkable postgame media sessions with LeBron, AD and Kuz. They vented a season’s worth of frustration in 30 minutes. Feels like a broken team with very little time to get right.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 3, 2021
What Roster/Chemistry Issues Do Teams With Shorter Odds Have?
The Lakers’ dysfunction is well-chronicled. Injuries have kept LeBron James out for 22 games and Anthony Davis sidelined for 35. Dennis Schroder is currently out 7-14 days under COVID protocols. If they get in one regular-season with a full roster, they will be lucky.
The Nets may be without Harden for the remainder of the regular season because of a nagging hamstring issue, and Durant is still not playing back-to-backs because of a thigh injury. Coach Steve Nash is concentrating on having everyone 100 percent for the postseason, and he could give a hoot whether the Nets finish No. 1 or No. 2.
Embiid only recently returned from a bone bruise in his knee along with a shoulder injury, and Simmons missed four straight games with an undisclosed non-COVID illness. But Philly has now won five straight and has only one tough game — at Miami on May 13 — remaining on the schedule. They would win a tiebreaker with Brooklyn.
The Clippers go into tonight’s matchup with Toronto having lost three straight games, tying their longest losing streak of the season. They have used 23 different starting lineups but are 28-10 when Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are both in the starting five.
Games missed by star duos in the West:
Jazz: Mitchell (11), Gobert (1)
Suns: Booker (4), CP3 (1)
Nuggets: Jokic (0), Murray (16)
Clippers: Kawhi (18), PG (16)
Mavs: Luka (6), Porzingis (24)
Lakers: LeBron (21), AD (35)
The West standings have been largely influenced by health.
— Farbod Esnaashari (@Farbod_E) May 3, 2021
And What About The Rest Of The Above-Listed Contenders?
Utah was sailing along until late March when the Jazz lost three of four, including a pair against the train wreck also known as the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Still, the Jazz lead the NBA in point differential (+9.1) and have made a league-leading 1,095 3-pointers. The only other team with more than 1,000 is Portland with 1,028. But it should be noted that even at 39 percent, the Clippers are not the NBA’s best 3-point shooting team. That distinction belongs to the Clippers (.416).
The Suns and the Jazz will likely play against winners from the play-in tournament, same as the Nets and Sixers in the East. And this is important: The No. 7 seed may have a worse record than the No. 8 seed. Under the new postseason play-in rules, the winner off the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game gets the seventh seed, and the eighth seed goes to the winner of the third play-in game (loser of 7-8 vs. winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game).
Denver is +3500 in large part because of the season-ending injury to Jamal Murray, who was a beast for them last season when they became the first team ever to recover from a pair of 3-1 deficits in the postseason. But the Nuggets still have the likely MVP in Nikola Jokic, and Michael Porter Jr. has increased his scoring average from 9.3 ppg last season to 18.9 this season. Aaron Gordon was a great trade deadline pickup, so doubt them at your own risk when assessing 2021 NBA championship odds.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 4, 2021