It’s convenient to view the All-Star break as the midway point of the NBA season, but because of the way the schedule is set up, it actually comes well after teams have played half of their games. Which means that coming out of the break, it’s time to really start focusing on playoff races and potential matchups.
That’s true not only on the court but off it as well. From a gambling perspective, there’s been plenty of time to survey teams and figure out what they are about. And then, develop odds on their chances to not only make the playoffs but potentially going all the way and lifting the trophy in June.
Ahead of the restarting of games later this week, here’s a look at some of the most interesting playoff and championship odds.
Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title:
- Yes: -200
- No: +170
The Warriors may have started out the season a bit slow due to injuries and off-court drama, but all of that is behind them. Yes, there are questions about what happens to this team in the offseason, but oddsmakers have no concerns about this team right now, installing them as massive favorites to win the title. They’re currently favorites against the field, and it’s hard to find fault with that confidence. For perspective, the teams with the next best odds are the Bucks and Raptors who are each +1200 to win the title.
Los Angeles Lakers to make the playoffs:
- Yes: +125
- No: -145
Even with the addition of LeBron James, there were never really any serious thoughts about the Lakers contending this season. In fact, there were far more questions about whether they would even make the playoffs in the crowded Western Conference. After the first few months, they seemed to put those concerns to bed, They were right in the middle of the playoff standings and even had a chance to fight for homecourt advantage in the first round. Then, LeBron James got hurt on Christmas, and everything fell apart. The persistent trade rumors about Anthony Davis and half the Lakers roster didn’t help, and now they’re under .500 and three games out of eighth. There’s little reason to be confident in this Lakers team down the stretch, and the oddsmakers don’t expect them to turn things around. Still, they do have LeBron James, so while they’re favored to miss the playoffs, the odds aren’t too crazy either way.
Eastern Conference title odds:
Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors
- Yes: +280
- No: -340
- Yes: +350
- No: -420
- Yes: +2000
- No: -3300
Perhaps the most interesting race this season will play out in the Eastern Conference. For nearly a decade, LeBron James ruled the East whether he was in Cleveland or Miami, but he’s gone now, and there’s a major power struggle for the throne. While many assumed the Celtics would be favorites back in the fall, it’s quickly turned into a four-team race. Unfortunately for the Pacers, who were probably always on the outside looking in, their chances fell off a cliff when Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending injury.
Coming out of the All-Star break, oddsmakers have installed the Bucks and Raptors as equal favorites, with the Celtics and 76ers only slightly behind them, indicating what pretty much everyone else believes: the last two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs are going to be madness. The Bucks, Raptors and Sixers all made big acquisitions at the trade deadline to boost their chances, while the Celtics stayed pat ahead of their summer quest for Anthony Davis.
Perhaps one or more of these teams will separate themselves over the next few months and look the strongest heading into the playoffs, but as of now, any four of the top teams have a strong chance to go on to the Finals.
Brooklyn Nets to make the playoffs:
- Yes: -300
- No: +250
At one point this season, the Nets lost eight games in a row to fall to 8-18 on the season. At that point, it would have been hard to fathom them making the playoffs any time soon, and certainly not this season. And yet, just a few months later, they’re turning into heavy favorites to make the postseason for the first time since 2015. Now 30-29 heading out of the All-Star break, they’ve gone 22-9 since that low point back in December, and they’ve done so despite long-term injuries to Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie. There’s clearly a massive talent gap between the top five teams in the East and everyone else, but it’s still a pretty cool story to see the young Nets turn things around this season and play some really fun basketball.