As we enter March, basketball season begins to wind down and lead into its postseason at many levels. The NBA Finals don’t end until June, but we are already seeing big-time playoff implication games and teams resting up for stretch runs. There are probably 8 teams that most people see as “live” to maybe, possibly, somehow win the NBA Finals. Here they are, in order from Vegas odds from best to worst:
I am going to get into the 3 teams I like the best for value and just to win because the value won’t matter if you can’t take advantage of it.
The Golden State Warriors are the best team in basketball, and the odds say it’s not even close. I can’t disagree with them either. The Warriors have one of the best starting fives ever constructed, and they are way too powerful for almost any team to take advantage of. There are a few teams that I think have the recipe to beat the Warriors and we will get into them later. The one thing I want to get out of the way is that the Thunder, Raptors, Rockets, and 76ers are NOT beating the Warriors in a 7 game series. I would not put any money on any of those teams until you are in a hedge situation. The Warriors are still probably a good value, and I expect that we will see them run through the first two round with ease and that will shift their odds even further. Every day this team goes without a season-ending injury, their odds to win the NBA Finals should increase. That being said, if you want to bet on the Warriors and check in in 2 months, just take the line now because it’s not moving anywhere but lower without a freak incident.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. “The Celtics hate each other.” Last night, we saw the Celtics at full strength beat up on the Warriors in Golden State. Now, the Warriors were without Klay Thompson, and this wasn’t a playoff game, but this was a big game for both teams, and the Celtics showed me exactly what I wanted them to. They showed us that when it comes down to it, they’re going to go out there and play really good basketball. Over the last few years, the Celtics length and athleticism has given the Warriors fits in almost every game, and I would expect that to continue in the Finals if the Celtics can get there.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I don’t trust the Bucks to get through the East, but they do match up well with the Warriors due to their length. I would be more comfortable betting on the Bucks once I see their playoff rotations. All year, they have preserved guys like Middleton and Bledsoe when it comes to minutes. I want to see them be willing to run these guys 36-38 minutes in the first series and then bet on them to win their next series if they look okay doing so.
I love the Nuggets team and the way they play with Nikola Jokic at the helm. Jokic plays at a different pace, and it changes the game for both teams. The Nuggets have given the Warriors troubles with their pace, athleticism, and depth. The Nuggets have 10-12 really good basketball players on their roster, and they can all do a lot on the basketball court. Someone like Isaiah Thomas or Monte Morris can have a 22 point game in 20 minutes on any given day, which makes this team really dangerous. I think the Nuggets are live to make a run at the champs, and I would be really interested in betting them in a series vs. the Warriors if I get the right odds.