There’s no history to study for the NBA taking almost five months off, then playing a handful of regular-season games before going full bore into the playoffs. Or doing it all at Disney World.
The NBA, like the rest of the sporting world, shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus. The league has working dates for restarting the season: July 31 for regular-season games, Aug. 16-17 for the play-in tournament to determine the final seeds, Aug. 18 to start the first round and the NBA Finals beginning on September 30th.
The restart of the NBA also means the resumption of NBA betting. BetMGM has future odds for the NBA, including for the championship and each conference title. It’s worth a refresher on where teams stand as the season restarts and to try to figure out how this unprecedented postseason will play out.
If this weird NBA season ends up with a title matchup of the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks in late September and early October, it will be a satisfying conclusion no matter the neutral site or obstacles to get there.
The Lakers (+250, they’ve dropped a bit from +275) and Bucks (+280) are the favorites to win the NBA championship. They have been the best two teams in the league all season. The Lakers led the Western Conference by 5.5 games and the Bucks led the East by 6.5.
The odds for a Lakers-Bucks title showdown is just +270, so there is practically no value in the chalk. Common sense says that all the variables — a neutral site for more than two months, a long layoff, potential positive tests knocking players out — make things way too unpredictable to bet the Lakers or Bucks at short odds. Even though it would be a great NBA Finals that we all need.
The Los Angeles Clippers, odds-wise, are closer to the Lakers and Bucks than anyone else. They’re +325. They certainly have the talent, and Kawhi Leonard showed in last year’s Eastern Conference finals that he can pose problems for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Still, +325 is pretty short for any team in a weird postseason.
The only other team getting less than 20-to-1 odds at BetMGM is the Houston Rockets at +1200. If we buy the notion that this postseason will be unpredictable given everything going on, this might be the year to find a big underdog and cash in. And one team stands out.