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NBA Championship outright odds (As of Feb. 14)
Golden State Warriors: 1.48
Toronto Raptors: 10.00
Milwaukee Bucks: 13.00
Philadelphia 76ers: 13.00
Houston Rockets: 14.00
The Toronto Raptors went into the NBA’s All-Star break as the hottest team in the league, winners of six in a row, as they close in on their fourth consecutive regular season with 50 victories or more.
It is an impressive feat, although it may now ring completely hollow with Raptors fans that have seen their team rack up those regular seasons wins in the past only to get into the playoffs and get bounced in disappointing fashion.
Only once in the last five seasons have the Raptors made it beyond the second round. Again, there is the LeBron James factor there. But James is now in the West, which may open the door for the Raptors to finally get over the hump and into the NBA Finals.
The Raptors go into the break with odds of 10.00 at PlayNow.com to win the NBA title this year. The Golden State Warriors are the clear favourites with outright odds of 1.48, and bettors are clearly favouring another Warriors championship.
Only 5.86 per cent of money has been wagered on the Raptors to win the NBA Championship.
The Raptors have not shied away from trying to bolster their roster for a run of their own. It started last offseason, when Toronto parted ways with Dwane Casey and later traded DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for star Kawhi Leonard.
Last week, the Raptors once again made a splash, acquiring Marc Gasol from Memphis at the trade deadline. He’s already fitting in nicely with the Raptors, averaging 20 minutes in three games and adding the experience and on-court smarts that Toronto could use down the road, as they look to avoid another premature playoff exit.
Golden State Warriors
NBA Championship odds: 1.48
Fun fact: The Golden State Warriors had a stretch of 10 games from Nov. 13 to Dec. 1 in which they lost six times.
Injuries played a role. Stephen Curry missed all but three games in November, and that includes Toronto’s first of two wins against Golden State this season. At the age of 30, Curry could have a career year (he’s slightly off the pace of 30 points per game from the 2015-16 season). Having him miss nearly a month meant the Warriors would face their share of struggles.
Curry is healthy again. He put up 32 points against Portland on Wednesday and ended the month of January with a 41-point performance – the fourth time last month that he hit 40-plus points in a game.
Despite the Warriors’ mid-November struggles, they have regained top spot in the Western Conference with a 41-16 record, two games up on the Denver Nuggets. In the minds of the bettors, Golden State is once again the clear favourite to win the NBA Championship. Their odds are 1.48 at PlayNow.com, while a whopping 72.5 per cent of the money is on them to win their fourth championship in five years.
It is, simply put, a runaway at this point.
NBA Championship odds: 13.00
It’s the middle of February and the Milwaukee Bucks are leading the NBA Eastern Conference with a 43-14 record – which equals the best winning percentage in the league right now.
Their odds to win the NBA title are currently 13.00 at PlayNow.com. Go back to the middle of July, and you could’ve bet on the Bucks outright at odds of 100.00. Or even 50.00 toward the end of October.
Despite their success this season – already surpassing their win total from last year – only 0.97 per cent of money is on the Bucks to win the championship. Since 2003, the Bucks have been to the playoffs eight times and each of those eight times they have been dispatched in the first round.
While the Bucks, as a team, might not be attracting much attention from bettors, their star Giannis Antetokounmpo has become a betting favourite for the NBA MVP award. His odds to win the award are 3.50 at PlayNow.com, while James Harden’s odds are 1.40.
About 52.8 per cent of money is on Antetokounmpo to win MVP.
NBA Championship odds: 13.00
After years of embarrassing results (you’ll recall that 10-72 record in 2015-16), the 76ers were a fun team to watch last season, with 52 wins. In the end, they couldn’t get beyond the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Boston Celtics.
However, the building blocks for future success seemed to have been planted.
While Philly sits fifth in the Eastern Conference, with a 37-21 record and the fourth-best odds to win the NBA title, the 76ers took an aggressive approach to improving their roster going into the stretch drive and playoffs, acquiring Tobias Harris in a blockbuster trade from the L.A. Clippers.
Harris has already had an impact on the 76ers, with a pair of 20-plus point efforts in four games since the trade deadline. Philly already boasts the third-best offence in the league, with a roster that already included Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler.
That should bode well for the 76ers going forward.
NBA Championship odds: 14.00
James Harden is enjoying the kind of season that earns Most Valuable Player honours. He’s averaging 36.6 points per game, and he’s only building off an already stellar 2017-18 campaign with the Houston Rockets, in which he averaged just over 30 points per game.
His odds of winning the MVP are 1.40 at PlayNow.com. About 20.1 per cent of money wagered is on Harden for that award.
The Rockets, meanwhile, will be in tough – very tough – to win the NBA Championship. They sit fifth in the Western Conference standings. Getting out of the West and into the finals will be a monumental task for every club not named the Golden State Warriors.
The Rockets’ odds to win are 14.00 at PlayNow.com.
They enter the All-Star break on a losing note, dropping a 10-point decision to the Minnesota Timberwolves (27-30) on Wednesday. Harden led the way with 42 points for the Rockets, which gives him 31-straight games in which he has recorded 30 points or more.
That tied Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in NBA history.
It’s possible that the Rockets’ championship hopes will again wilt at the hands of Stephen Curry and the Warriors.