The NBA season emerges from the dead (All-Star break) tomorrow. Here are some thoughts on the Finals odds — via Odds Shark — heading into the second half of the season.
The Bucks should be the favorites. Milwaukee is currently pancaked (at +250) between the Lakers (+225) and the Clippers (+300). Merely by virtue of how minimal the gap is between the two Los Angeles teams, the Bucks chances of making the Finals are far greater. Thus, they're a safer bet to win it all as just a Finals berth is likely.
The significant drop-off after the three teams is representative of the league; the Rockets are fourth at +1400. Barring an injury — à la Kevin Durant last season — surprises in the NBA don't happen in terms of the championships, which makes it hard to find a value bet worth taking. If forced to choose one, however, it'd be the Celtics, who are at +1800.
Boston is a scrappy, well-coached, all-around basketball team. Without Kyrie Irving, the ball moves effectively and efficiently. If Giannis Antetokounmpo chokes back-to-back years in the postseason by failing to shoot the ball at a reasonable level, the Celtics should be the beneficiaries.
As for a long, long-shot bet — Dallas +4000 is intriguing. There are nights where Luka Dončić is the most unstoppable, made-in-a-lab-like player on the planet. The playoffs are about star power and the Mavericks certainly have that when he's healthy.
Though, again, the NBA is notorious for squashing the hopes of underdogs before the bandwagon heads down the road. This is a three-team race, as the odds state.