The NBA trade deadline is now behind us, and we are now very unlikely to see a major shift in odds throughout the rest of the NBA regular season without injury. At about the midway point of the season, all teams should be rather set in their ways, and I don’t expect a big shakeup ahead.
There are still player buyouts that can occur, and I do think there are some very viable candidates out there, and there is a notable free agent or two that could sign to a top team. The biggest name out there is Darren Collison, who is likely to sign with a Los Angeles team before the end of the season. Jamal Crawford is a name often brought up around the Clippers as well.
It is hard to speculate about these potential buyouts, but the biggest one that is catching my eye is the Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson. I think that their move to get Andre Drummond was strange, and this could lead to Thompson being bought out and heading to a team like Houston that could use one real center if it matches up with a problematic big in its playoff run.
There are three NBA teams that are far and away ahead of the field in terms of betting odds, and there is a clear reason for that. These are clearly the three most dominant teams in the league, and there is an argument that they have five of the top 10 players in the NBA on these three rosters.
I think that picking these three teams apart is a tough task, and I think that in a head-to-head matchup, they would all be seen as very close to each other. The Los Angeles Lakers are listed at +275, the Milwaukee Bucks are +300, and the LA Clippers are +333.
I think that the Clippers got the biggest bump at the trade deadline, adding a closing lineup piece in Marcus Morris Sr. without losing much production at all, but I do think that the market is leaning towards the Lakers acquiring Collison.
If you have a strong lean towards any of these teams, I think that it is unlikely that the number changes a ton barring significant injuries, so I would probably hold off on betting a Los Angeles team to make sure that you get them at full strength come playoff time.
I do like the Bucks simply because of the options down the stretch. If you like the Bucks to win the East with ease, I expect them to be a slight underdog against either Los Angeles team. This would give a simple hedge option if you want to do that when the time comes.
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After the top three teams, everybody else is a flier at this point, but I do like some of these teams down here if you want to gamble on chaos. The Eastern Conference is more wide open outside of Milwaukee, but I really do not think that any team outside of Philadelphia would get any respect in a Finals series.
The 76ers (+1400) have lost 11 of their last 13 road games through Feb. 6, and they had won their last eight home games. This is incredibly strange, but it isn’t a horrible thing in the playoffs if they can just steal one game on the road.
I think that they are a fine option to jump on to, and there is always injury possibility for Milwaukee that could even make them the favorites to come out of the East. In the West, that is much less likely.
My other favorite flier is the Denver Nuggets because of their youth and depth. This is a team that has dealt with major injuries to basically everyone but Nikola Jokic for the last two seasons.
When this team is at full strength, they have the versatility to defend all different kinds of lineups, and they have plenty of scoring options at their disposal in a seven-game series. I love the Nuggets as the upset team of the Western Conference at +2000.