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HOME > > Top 10 picks to win the NBA Finals

Top 10 picks to win the NBA Finals

27 July 2020

By Dan Ippolito

The National Basketball Association resumes its season inside the Orlando bubble this week. Before the season started, we went through 10 bets to consider making throughout the year.

Now that the season has a different look to it thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and a four-month pause, we are changing things up.

Only the 22 teams will take part in an eight-game finish to the regular season to see which 16 teams will enter the playoffs. Several have already punched their tickets to the postseason, but a couple of spots are still up for grabs. As teams get back into the swing of things, we look at 10 teams who are in serious contention of bringing home the title in this unusual season.


10. Houston Rockets at 16-to-1
It may be a long shot with the new small ball that the Houston Rockets began playing before the season was suspended back in March, but a title could still be in reach if things start clicking for them.

Currently sitting in sixth place in the West, the Rockets have already clinched a playoff bid. The West is so tight that the Rockets are only 2.5 games back of third place in the conference.

Houston is 16-to-1 to win it all at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino's SuperBook. As far as schedules go, the Rockets’ first half of the schedule is much tougher than the second half. They start off with the Mavericks, Bucks, Trailblazers and Lakers for the first four games. If it takes time for the Rockets to get into mid-season form then they will struggle in these four games.

One positive note is that Russell Westbrook has cleared protocol after testing positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago and is practicing with the team again. James Harden and Westbrook will have to be on their A-game if the Rockets want a shot at making a deep run.

9. Oklahoma City Thunder at 80-to-1
The Thunder were one of the hottest teams in the NBA before the season was put on hold due to COVID-19. OKC had won 8 out of its last 10 games, with the two losses to the Bucks and Clippers, two of the best teams in the NBA.

The Thunder have two of the easier games of the schedule right in the middle when they play the Suns and Bradley Beal-less Wizards.

This team has no problem putting the ball in the hoop. Seven out of their last 10 games, the Thunder scored at least 112 points, all resulting in wins. That stretch brought OKC into fifth place in the West with the Rockets right behind them.

Listed as 80-to-1 on bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook, the Thunder will have to continue that offensive explosiveness to get by some of the top teams in the West to make it to The Finals.

8. Philadelphia 76ers at 20-to-1
There have been question marks surrounding the 76ers throughout the 2019-2020 NBA season. With the starting five of Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid, the 76ers were supposed to be a dominant team in the Eastern Conference. However, after an up-and-down season, they sit in sixth place, 7.5 games behind second place.

This three-month delay of the season could be a blessing in disguise for the 76ers who can now look at this as an entirely new season.

Another way the 76ers could benefit from the bubble is that there won’t be any true home and away games. Philly has an incredible 29-2 record at home but can’t figure out the road games posting a 10-24 record away from home. With a neutral site and no fans, the 76ers won’t have to worry about the road woes looming over them.

Will they throw the first 65 games of the season out of the window and start with a fresh mentality, or will those games linger in their head and cause them to continue on this path?

There have been rumors that Ben Simmons may move out of the point guard position but that will be answered on their opening night against the Indiana Pacers. Al Horford has had experience running an offense as a point-forward so that could be one direction they go with the offense.

Intertops Sportsbook lists Philly at 20-to-1 to win the championship.

7. Toronto Raptors at 20-to-1
The defending champs definitely have a different look coming into the final few games of the season compared to last year’s title year. The 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers and leaves a big hole in the Raptors lineup both offensively and defensively.

Currently sitting in second place in the East, Toronto has searched for someone to fill the void left by Kawhi. Someone who has improved his game immensely over the last two years to pick up some of the slack is Pascal Siakam. In 2018, Siakam only averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Just two years later, he is averaging 23.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He is a tough man to stop on the offensive side of the ball.

Westgate has the team at 20-to-1 to win the title. Can Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam be enough to carry this team out of the East? Lowry needs to be the floor general while being able to lockdown the opposition’s best perimeter scorer if the team wants a chance.

6. Miami Heat at 40-to-1
Miami is a very interesting team to me. They have a deep roster of players that can really give other teams, with a short bench, problems. The team added Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala just before the season was suspended.

In the offseason, Jimmy Butler signed with the Heat to immediately make them Eastern Conference contenders with Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson. In the first scrimmage last Wednesday, Duncan Robinson demonstrated his dead-eye shooting when he made four three-pointers in the first five minutes of the game.

The Heat are currently in fourth place in the East. Being 2.5 games behind the Celtics in third and 2 games ahead of the Pacers in fifth, I could easily see the Heat remaining in fourth going into the postseason. However, it could come down to the matchups with the Pacers that the Heat have. Two of the final three games are against the Pacers which can determine the seeding for those two teams but I think the Heat will edge them out.

The Westgate SuperBook has the Heat’s championship at 40-to-1 odds.

5. Denver Nuggets at 22-to-1
One of my favorite teams to watch, the Denver Nuggets are sitting in a good position at third place in the West.

The Nuggets may have just gotten more fun to watch too with 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, the son of former NBA star Manute Bol, playing his first real action on Wednesday. Bol Bol recorded a double double in that scrimmage and will look to add some rim protection to the Nuggets’ roster.

With a backcourt of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, paired with arguably the best passing center in the league, Nikola Jokic, Denver is a scary offense. Paul Millsap has a ton of playoff experience that he can shine on some of his younger teammates.

However, the schedule does not favor the Nuggets. In their eight games, they will play five teams that are in fifth in their conference or better.

They say to be the best you must beat the best and that is what the Nuggets will have to do to maintain their third seed and have momentum going into the postseason to win a title at +2200 on Intertops Sportsbook.

4. Los Angeles Lakers at 23-to-10
It wouldn’t be a good list without including the team that has LeBron James on its roster. Not to mention Anthony Davis is right there with him in the starting five. The Lakers sit atop the Western Conference with a 5.5 game cushion, so it is safe to say they should be the top seed in the West for the playoffs.

That being said, the Lakers did suffer a loss that may not seem as big as it actually is. Rajon Rondo is out 6-8 weeks after suffering a right thumb fracture. The reason this is an important loss for the Lakers is when LeBron is off the court, Rondo was the floor general directing the offense. When LeBron is on the floor obviously the offense runs through him, but when the second unit comes on, Rondo was directing traffic and is also one of the best passers in today’s league.

The Lakers will also be without Avery Bradley who is choosing to sit out due to the risks of COVID-19 and keeping his family’s health as a priority. To fill the shoes of Bradley, the Lakers signed Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith during the season’s delay.

With that being said, the Lakers still have a good chance to make a deep run and even win it all behind two of the league’s best in Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The Lakers are the favorite to win it all at 23-to-10 odds on bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook.

On opening night Thursday, the Lakers get thrown right into heavy competition against city rivals Los Angeles Clippers.

3. Boston Celtics at 18-to-1
When you think of the Celtics, your thoughts should immediately go to the young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum was one of the best players in the league in the last nine games played. In those contests, Tatum scored at least 28 points in seven games and at least three three-pointers made in all seven of those.

Pair Brown and Tatum with Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker and you already have a solid team. Walker has been dealing with some knee soreness which can end up being a major factor for the Boston Celtics but has seemed to be progressing nicely.

Then you look at the depth of the Celtics. First off the bench is Marcus Smart who is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. You also see offensive rebounding specialist Enes Kanter and backup point guard Brad Wanamaker join in on the action for solid minutes each.

In recent years the Celtics have struggled to put together a good stretch for an entire series or two but with the way they began to play before the season stopped, they seem to have a lot of potential to scare teams.

Intertops Sportsbook has the Celtics at +1800 to take home their 18th title in franchise history.

2. Milwaukee Bucks at 5-to-2
There is a reason Giannis Antetokounmpo is known as “The Greek Freak.” He is the closest thing to impossible to stop as there is in the NBA. Giannis is looking to win his second straight regular season MVP this year and I don’t see how he won’t win with 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.

With all eyes on Giannis, don’t overlook Kris Middleton. Middleton is a top shooter in the NBA who knocks down his threes 42% of the time. Averaging just north of 21 points per game, Middleton is a great pairing for Giannis when defenses collapse on him, allowing Giannis to kick out to Middleton for an open jumper.

Two supporting players for the Bucks tested positive for COVID-19 recently. Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton are the two players and are in hopes of joining the Bucks in the bubble in the near future.

With a full roster and Giannis leading the way, it will be tough to keep the Bucks out of the win column.

The bet365 Sportsbook have the Bucks at 5-to-2 odds currently.

1. Los Angeles Clippers at 10-to-3
My best bet to prevail in The Finals the Clippers. Picking up 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in the offseason along with Paul George made this team a threat just with those two players. Add potential Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams with defensive studs Patrick Beverely and Montrezl Harrell, this roster gives teams fits on both sides of the ball.

This team also has sharp shooting Landry Shamet and newcomers Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. The reason I enjoy this team so much is because of their defensive ability. If they are having a tough shooting night, that doesn’t put them at as much of a disadvantage as it would for other teams. This defense has no problem getting in your face and making life very difficult for opponents on the floor. We’ve seen examples of it throughout the year especially with Patrick Beverley being basically attached to his opponent’s shirt.

Sitting in second place in the West, the Clippers will be fighting to make it out of the West with the Nuggets, Lakers and others in the conference. At 10-to-3 odds on bet365, the Clippers are my pick to take the finals trophy back to LA with them when they leave the bubble.

 
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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