Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our How To Bet and Sports Betting Strategy and Advice pages are for you. You can get started with our How To Section — including How to Make a Moneyline Bet at a Sportsbook — or head to more advanced strategy — like Win Totals Strategy for Sports Betting — to learn more.
The countdown to the NBA’s return has begun. With the season set to resume at the end of July, the odds for eventual champion have been re-released.
The usual suspects top the list at FanDuel, and the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers top the list. As with any prop with three or more options, we have to weigh win probability against the odds to determine which presents the best value. Let’s take a look at the candidates.
NBA Finals Championship 2019-20 Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)
Milwaukee Bucks (+240)
The Milwaukee Bucks are the favorites here. They have an easy path to the Eastern Conference Finals and the NBA Finals. At full strength, they are one of the best three teams in the NBA. Galvanized from last year’s exit from the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks are arguably the best “team” of the favorites. The Lakers, Clippers, and the Rockets all welcomed new stars to their teams this past offseason, and the suspension of the season has adversely affected those teams the most. Milwaukee may be the best value on the board simply because they are the favorite to make the NBA Finals out of their conference.
Los Angeles Lakers (+260)
The Lakers are the favorites to come out of the West. Their current odds of +260 are a little perplexing when compared to the Clippers at +340, as the Lakers are listed at +160 to win the West with the Clippers at +190. This makes even less sense when you consider that the Clippers that have Giannis-stopper Kawhi Leonard. That said, the Lakers are favored to win the West because they’ve been the superior team this season. As a squad, they’ve gelled better than the Clippers. The Lakers will have to fight for the division, but it looks like they’ve got the goods to beat Milwaukee — if they can make it to the NBA Finals.
Los Angeles Clippers (+340)
The Clippers may be the team most adversely affected by the season’s suspension. They had yet to find consistency with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the court, and now they’ll have to do so against the clock. The Clippers are arguably the most talented and complete team in the West, but none of that will matter if they can’t find some chemistry. When they are in peak form, they are the best team in the league. The only question is whether they can play close to their peak in consecutive seven-game series.
Houston Rockets (+1300)
The Houston Rockets sit here based on individual talent alone. They’re not built for the NBA playoffs, and it would be a surprise if they made it to the Western Conference Finals. With the fourth-best odds despite sitting behind Denver in the standings, Houston needs sweeping injuries or health-related player removals to have a shot at the NBA Finals. It’s true that they can get hot and shoot the lights out at a moment’s notice, but they may not be able to find that kind of consistency.
Boston Celtics (+2000)
The Boston Celtics might be a year or two away from truly competing for the NBA Championship, but they have talent capable of surprising any team in the Eastern Conference. Listed with the second-best odds to come out of the East despite currently sitting in third place, Boston could challenge the Bucks if Jayson Tatum gets hot. However, they would be in for an extremely tough battle against the Lakers or the Clippers, and there’s always the possibility that they get swept. The Celtics might be competitive, but they are not yet ready to contend.
Toronto Raptors (+2400)
The Toronto Raptors don’t have much of a chance to win the NBA title this season, nevermind coming out of the Eastern Conference. That said, they’ve gotten overlooked all year after they lost Kawhi Leonard (and to a much lesser extent, Danny Green). That said, they still managed to be the second-best team in the Eastern Conference! They are the defending champions, but even if they manage to slip by Milwaukee to win the East, they’ll need to take down Kawhi or LeBron.
Denver Nuggets (+2500)
The Denver Nuggets are a great regular season team, but they have yet to prove themselves in the playoffs. While they’re a favorite to make the second round, they’ll have a tough time winning against their next draw. Getting past a combination of the Rockets, the Lakers, and/or the Clippers is extremely unlikely. The Nuggets are a safe fade for any NBA Championship prop.
Miami Heat (+2700)
The Miami Heat will be a difficult out for just about every team in the Eastern Conference. While they’re not a favorite to make the Eastern Conference Finals, they’re not considered a threat to make it to the NBA Finals. They are expected to make their games competitive, but they don’t have what it takes to beat best that the Western Conference has to offer. They may be worth a long-shot play to make it out of the East, but you’d be burning money by betting on them to win it all.
Philadelphia 76ers (+2700)
The Sixers were a miraculous Kawhi Leonard shot away from the Eastern Conference Finals — and the NBA Finals — in 2019. Unfortunately, the Sixers have taken a major step back this season. They lost star player and defensive stopper Jimmy Butler, and they also lost sharpshooter J.J. Redick. They’ve been unable to make up for their losses, and they’re an inferior team to the one they were last season. It’s possible that they get hot and power their way to the NBA Finals, but the smart money is on them taking another second-round exit. They won’t take that next step with Ben Simmons as their second-best player until he learns to greatly extend his range.
Utah Jazz (+2900)
The Utah Jazz don’t have a chance to win the NBA title this season. They have the talent, but they’re inferior to every team listed above them. That’s not even to mention the fractured relationship between star players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. If a path to a Utah championship exists, it would be through multiple teams losing players due to injury or health concerns.
Dallas Mavericks (+3600)
The Dallas Mavericks can certainly make some noise in the Western Conference. They have enough talent to compete with anyone, but they may have a tough time navigating the animal that is playoff basketball after the first round. That said, any team with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will have at least a puncher’s chance at pulling an upset.
The battle for the NBA Championship appears to be a three-team race between the Bucks, Lakers, and Clippers. Milwaukee is considered a safe play because they should make it out of the Eastern Conference. The combined implied probability of one of these three teams winning the NBA Championship is just over 80 percent.
Milwaukee is the safest bet of the three, as they have the easiest path to the NBA Finals. Also, they won’t have to face one of the other top three to get there in the first place. The potential battle between the Lakers and Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals or finals is enough to lower both clubs’ overall probability of winning the title outright. Either team would be considered the favorite if they played Milwaukee — or any other Eastern Conference team in the NBA Finals. However, the fact they have to get past each other first has led to the Bucks becoming favorites. Even with this in mind, laying on the Bucks alone is risky business.
The decision to side with either the Lakers or the Clippers depends on which version of the Clippers you think will show up. They’re the better team, but betting on them to magically find some consistency after such a long layoff is a difficult proposition. They will have at least 12 games to do so (eight seeding games, plus a first-round matchup), but they’re at risk of getting bounced in the second round if they can’t.
Ultimately, the Lakers have the highest probability of coming out of the West — and winning the NBA Championship.