NBA Betting: 3 Exact NBA Finals Matchups Worth Betting
The 2019-20 NBA season is returning July 30, and FanDuel Sportsbook is ahead of the game -- opening odds for not only NBA Champion, but the exact NBA Finals matchup. The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers are the three favorites to win the title this season, in that order. In this article, we'll take a gander into the potential matchups -- with both L.A. squads meeting Milwaukee in the finals. Plus one sleeper team to come out of the Eastern Conference and upset Milwaukee.
Per Brandon Gdula's "3 Best NBA Championship Bets" article, the three mentioned teams have the best championship chances according to numberFire's nERD Rating -- with Milwaukee leading the way to win it all.
|Los Angeles Lakers||71.8||7.51||+270|
|Los Angeles Clippers||65.2||6.46||+340|
Milwaukee Bucks vs Los Angeles Lakers +300
The Bucks versus the Lakers was undoubtedly the most likely NBA Finals matchup before COVID-19, and it remains that way three months later. Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James are arguably the best two players in the league, and both are front-runners to be named league MVP and Finals MVP if they make that far.
The Bucks have the best record in the NBA at 53-12 and have proved they deserve to be the betting favorite -- especially coming out of the East. Arguably, the most complete team in the league, the Bucks lead the league in points per game (118.6), defensive rating (101.6), rebounding percentage (52.4%), rebounds per game (51.7), efficient field goal percentage (55.3%), pace (105.36), and plus-minus (11.3) -- just to name a few categories.
Milwaukee will play either the Orlando Magic or Washington Wizards in the first round, then a potential matchup with the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the second round. The Bucks seemed poised for a second-consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearance, and they'll have the most accessible road getting there. The break also couldn't have come at a better time for the Bucks, as they were on a three-game losing streak when the league postponed play and saw Antetokounmpo miss two-straight games with a minor knee sprain.
The Lakers hold a 5.5-game lead over the Clippers for the number one seed in the Western Conference, and the fact that Anthony Davis has had three months to rest his shoulder -- makes them even more dangerous as a team. Davis admitted during a post-game interview in November 2019, "There isn't a play I don't feel it (shoulder pain)" according to Shams Charania of Stadium.
Davis should be better than ever with the long break, and reports are that LeBron James was holding private workouts with teammates during COVID-19 in order to prepare for his fourth-NBA Championship title. The Lakers should be the most prepped team heading into the final eight games of the regular season, as they held the NBA's best road record (26-6). Los Angeles also ranks top-four in the league when it comes to offensive rating (112.6), defensive rating (105.5), total net rating (7.1), and plus-minus (7.4).
LeBron is currently leading the league in assists per game (10.6), 11th in points per game (25.7), and 22nd in rebounds per game (7.9), as the most feared 35-year-old on the planet. The Bucks and Lakers are the two best teams in the NBA, with the two best players. It would be anything but a shock to see these two teams meet in the first-ever September and October owned NBA Finals. The Lakers will have to survive the Clippers, as they are the only team in the Western playoffs that has a winning record versus the Lakers (2-1).
Milwaukee Bucks vs Los Angeles Clippers +375
If the battle of Los Angeles happens, the Clippers essentially hold the same chances as the Lakers to come out of the West pegged at +190 to the Lakers +160. The difference between the two teams is that the Clippers dabbled in load management plentiful this season, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George missing a combined 35 games, not to mention Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet missing 17 games or more each. With all that rest, plus three months of COVID-19, the Clippers should be one of the most grateful teams for the hiatus.
Fully healthy, the Clippers should be ready to roll. After ranking top-five in offensive rating (112.9), defensive rating (101.6), net rating (10.7), and plus-minus (6.5) to end the season, the Clippers are clearly the number one opposition to the Lakers. The only team the Clippers have a losing record against in the Western Conference playoffs this season is the Utah Jazz (1-2).
The Clippers trail the Lakers as the top defensive team in the Western Conference for defensive net rating and net rating, but the offense is what I'm worried about for the Clippers. L.A. currently ranks 10th in the Western Conference with a 45.9% field goal percentage, 10th in three-point percentage (35.3%) versus Western Conference Teams -- with five non-playoff squads ranked ahead of them in either category.
The Clippers road to the NBA Finals is paved most likely via the number seven seed Dallas Mavericks, then a second-round date with either Denver, Oklahoma, or Houston. Against those four teams this, Los Angeles is 7-4 going 1-1 versus Denver, 2-2 versus Houston, and 4-1 versus both Dallas and OKC. I expect both Los Angeles squads to meet in the Western Conference Finals, but that second-round matchup for the Clippers will be tough if they follow up the Dallas series with either Houston or Denver --both of whom have given them a bit of trouble this season.
L.A. is a sturdy unit versus Western Conference squads going 27-14 overall, but a matchup with Milwaukee could spell disaster. The Clippers are 0-2 this season versus the Bucks, and if you're betting on this exact matchup - I'd double down on the Bucks taking home the title back to Milwaukee for the first time since 1971.
Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers +2300
After watching the ESPN produced Michael Jordan documentary "The Last Dance," is there any classic matchup that would be as entertaining as this one? Boston versus Los Angeles. We would need Larry Bird and Magic Johnson sitting courtside the whole series for this one. The Celtics and Lakers split the season series 1-1, thanks to L.A.'s last-second victory despite Jayson Tatum's career-high 41 points.
Boston is currently the number three seed (43-21) and tied with the Bucks for the Eastern Conference's highest offensive rating (112.3), and ranks fourth overall in the NBA for defensive rating (106.2). Boston split games with Milwaukee 1-1 this season, went 2-1 versus Toronto, 2-0 versus Miami, and 1-1 versus Indiana. The only team in the East that Boston struggled with was the Philadelphia 76ers going 1-3 versus them in 2019-20.
Boston's currently slated against Philadelphia, who are the sixth seed, but that could change based on the final regular-season games. The 76ers are an atrocious 10-24 away from home, and with these being neutral court games outside of Philly, I have to count them out. The same goes for the Heat with their road record of (14-19) and with the Pacers being an inexperienced playoff team -- they have plenty of questions to answer.
That leaves Boston and Toronto as the final two teams who could compete with Milwaukee to represent the Eastern Conference. Boston, Milwaukee, and Toronto are three-of-six teams in the league who have 20 home wins and 20 road wins -- making them the worthy betting choices to reach the NBA Finals.
Boston and Toronto will benefit the most with this break. The Celtics will welcome back a healthy Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Kemba Walker -- after they missed a combined 47 games this season. Eight of 10 players missed time for Toronto this season, and at +2200, a healthy and whole Raptors team could make a repeat Finals appearance, unless they run into and equally health Boston squad in round-two.