NBA Predictions: Updated Championship Futures Odds and Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 12/22/2010
We are, in round numbers, a third of the way into the NBA season. Some things have gone as expected so far, and others really haven’t. This is a good time to check in on the NBA Championship futures to see what is interesting and what isn’t. The timing is good for another reason - Miami and the Lakers are co-favorites according to the NBA odds with a fairly wide margin between them and third place Celtics, and those two teams meet on Christmas day in what could be a holiday classic. (odds are from BetUS)
Miami (+225) - It seems hard to believe that it was only a month ago that this team was seemingly in trouble. They couldn’t win with any consistency, they were airing their laundry in public, and Erik Spoelstra seemed all but certain to be fired. Now they have turned things around - they had won 12 straight until losing to Dallas, and the Big Three seem to have figured out how to play together. I am less skeptical about this team than I have been, but I still think that this price is ridiculous. They are lacking depth in a serious way, and the last month has shown more than ever that they are just one injury away from disaster in the playoffs. They also have to beat Boston in order to win it all, and so far that hasn’t proven to be easy for them.
Lakers (+225) - I certainly won’t count out any team with Kobe and Phil -- you put them on the Clippers right now and they are instantly a serious contender. Still, I can’t be the only one that gets the feeling watching the Lakers this year that something isn’t quite right. They are still winning a lot of games, and beating teams they need to beat (except for the huge home upset to Milwaukee last night), but it doesn’t quite seem that they are as sharp or as scary as they should be by Christmas. Maybe I have just grown to expect too much from them, but at this price I am definitely looking elsewhere for value.
Boston (+450) - The payout here is twice what it is for the Lakers or Heat. I sure don’t think that they are twice as unlikely to win. That means that - at least comparatively - there is value here. You can’t argue with a team that is as defensively sound as this one, or one that is as deep or as experienced as the Celtics are. Rajon Rondo is out for a while now, but that could even be a blessing here - that means he’ll put a bit less mileage on before the playoff run, so he’ll be fresher. If the key pieces can stay healthy - a big if - then this team is built to go deep. I’d take them over the other two without question given the prices.
San Antonio (+1000) - This price makes no sense to me - in a good way. The Spurs have the best record in the league. They are very well coached and loaded with talent. That talent knows that their window is closing, so they will be fired up to succeed. They have measured up well when playing other good teams. I don’t understand at all how it makes sense that they are the fourth choice in the league, or that they are so far behind the top three. I love this price. Their problem is that they are so lacking in drama and conflict that everyone forgets about them. They just do their job. That leads to nice prices.
Orlando (+1000) - This price shows just how attractive the Spurs are. How in the world can you say right at this moment that the Spurs and the Magic have the same chance of winning? Idiotic. I like the trades that they made, but the fact is that this team just ripped up their entire roster this week, and with Gilbert Arenas as the biggest new name joining them it’s not exactly a guarantee that the gamble will work. I am consistently amazed by Dwight Howard, but I wouldn’t dream of betting this team at this price.
Dallas (+1200) - This teams scares me. On one hand I am very impressed with what they are doing right now. The roster is built intelligently, and they are performing right up to their potential - the win over Miami was no fluke. I really like the idea of a hungry Jason Kidd looking for a championship before it’s too late and Dirk Nowitzki is in the same situation. The problem I have, though, is that I have been burnt too many times by these guys in the playoffs. Every time I believe in them they find a new way to disappoint. At +1500 or +1800 I may be willing to forget what has happened in the past, but not at this price.
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