As the All-Star break comes to a close and we get set for the second half of the basketball schedule, we're helping bettors prepare for the postseason by making some NBA futures predictions for the finals!
When it comes to gambling on pro basketball, the options go much further than daily moneylines, spreads, and totals. Most NJ betting sites such as DraftKings Sportsbook offer a wide range of futures markets for the postseason, including one based on NBA championship predictions.
This is the market we are targeting as we try to help you cash a winning ticket by the time June rolls around!
2020 NBA Champion Predictions: Odds And Favorites To Win NBA Title
The first thing the odds say when you go to make NBA playoff predictions is that oddsmakers see the battle for the championship as a three-horse race between Milwaukee and the two Los Angeles teams. The Bucks are slight favorites with the Lakers and Clippers close behind, then it's a serious jump in odds to the rest of the league. Below are the 10 teams with the lowest odds:
All three franchises at the top were the favorites when the season started as well, although the order of the teams has shifted a bit over the past few months. Below, we'll use the support of data from predictive analytics sites to discuss the betting value on each of the three favorites in our preferred order and add a couple of longshot options to consider for your 2020 NBA Finals predictions.
*All data as of February 20
- Los Angeles Lakers (+300)
The Lakers began the season with the second-lowest odds at DraftKings (+440) and have not disappointed over the first 50-plus games. According to playoff probability metrics from Basketball-Reference, the Lakers have a 41.9 percent chance to win the west and a 16.9 percent shot to win the finals, by far the highest percentages of any western conference team.
Los Angeles is four-games clear of every other team in the west and looks poised for the top overall seed in the conference, thanks in large part to Anthony Davis and LeBron. Davis leads the team in scoring with over 26 points per game but in his 17th NBA season, King James is an MVP candidate averaging a career-high 10.8 assists per game while scoring 25 points each night.
The Clippers have beaten the Lakers in both games so far but we are not giving individual regular-season games much credence, especially when one of them was the very first game of the season. Going with a larger sample, the Lakers are the best road team in basketball by a large margin and that can be a huge separator come playoff time. At 23-5 away from home compared to the Clippers' 15-13, the Lakers are a team prepared to win no matter the venue.
In all fairness, the whole home and away thing is negated a bit if the Clippers and Lakers meet in the conference finals but it's still relevant to bettors because whichever team advances will likely need to win at least once on the road in the NBA Finals.
- Milwaukee Bucks (+240)
Milwaukee is the favorite at all NJ and PA betting sites and has odds of +240 at DraftKings. The Bucks are the league's top team at 46-8 with the league's best player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is likely on his way to a second-straight MVP while averaging 31 points and 13.5 rebounds in 31 minutes per game.
At the start of the season, the Bucks were the third team listed behind the two Los Angeles clubs with +625 odds that have obviously dipped quite a bit. With that said, Milwaukee could still be worth a look for NBA futures predictions because of the Eastern Conference. Nothing is guaranteed but there isn't a single team on the Bucks' level and that lack of competition cold means a relatively easy road to the finals in comparison to teams in the west.
Basketball-Reference gives Milwaukee a commanding 68.8 percent shot to win the East and a sizable 52.9 percent chance to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy, by far the largest numbers in either category. So if you're thinking of a wager on the Bucks, sign up with a DraftKings NJ promo code before the line continues to drop!
- Los Angeles Clippers (+330)
The Clippers' meteoric rise to becoming the betting favorite for the championship game with the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the latter of which saw odds tumble from +1400 to +350 before the season tipped off.
They are currently No. 3 in the west but it hasn't stopped them from being behind only Milwaukee and the Lakers on the odds board at +330. The public's NBA playoff predictions were heavy on the Clippers before the season, and it's no different now.
FiveThirtyEight feels the same way and has the Clippers as the far-and-away favorite to win, giving them a 24 percent chance to win the finals (compared to just 5.8 percent at Basketball-Reference). Some of the data contradicts itself so when it comes down to the Lakers/Clippers debate, other factors need to be taken into account.
The Clippers lead the season series 2-0 but we aren't concerned with that so much. A more legitimate point would be looking at the Clippers' superior depth, plus additions like veteran forward Marcus Morris, whom the Lakers were also coveting.
Another benefit for the Clippers is the regular rest Leonard has gotten, which has allowed last year's finals MVP to play nine games less than LeBron to this point in preparation for the postseason.
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NBA Playoff Predictions 2020: Longshot Options For NBA Championship Futures Picks
- Boston Celtics (+2000)
Once you look outside of the top three options, payouts rise but so do the doubts. But if you're hunting for under-the-radar NBA Finals predictions, consider the value Boston holds at +2000. We haven't heard all that much about Boston because of Milwaukee and even the recent play of Toronto but the Celtics have won over 70 percent of their games, too.
The rationale behind a team in the Eastern Conferernce like Boston or Philly is simple. Even though Milwaukee has the most wins in the league and the lowest odds to win the title, there's a better shot of knocking off the one top dog than managing to get through two of them, which is the case in the west for any team outside of LA.
Boston has the third-highest defensive rating in basketball and its game travels, two things other East teams can't say. Plus, it still has a chance to finish with the No. 2 seed and avoid the Bucks until the conferernce finals.
Basketball-Reference also gives Boston a better shot to win the east than Atlantic Division-rivals Philadelphia and Toronto, for whatever that's worth. Once +2500 before the season, still consider the Celtics as one of your NBA futures picks once you get outside of the three top teams.
- Philadelphia 76ers (+1400)
The 76ers came into the season with high expectations and low odds at +750 on DraftKings and even though things haven't gone as planned, maybe don't write this team off just yet. It has been a drama-filled season for Philadephia featuring rumors of a rift between Joel Embiiid and Ben Simmons, but this is still the great value compared to odds earlier in the season.
This pick mostly comes from context clues with the odds, which is how many NBA championship predictions are made. The Sixers are a bad road team with a worse record than Toronto, Boston, and Miami, yet it has a lower line than all three. It tells us that oddsmakers could be low on those other options and see Philadephia as a roster better than its record, which currently has it in fifth place.
If you're looking for a silver lining on the Sixers, FiveThirtyEight actually rates this team tops in the East with a slightly better chance than even Milwaukee of reaching and winning the finals. We don't really see it but these +1400 odds are the most generous odds you're going to find right now.
- Denver Nuggets (+2000)
If we are forced to pick a Western Conference team in addition to the Los Angeles clubs, let's make it the Denver Nuggets and their huge payout. No offense to the Rockets, but +1200 isn't enough to take a shot and +2000 is, especially considering Denver might be a better overall team than Houston.
The metrics on sites like FiveThirtyEight and Basketball-Reference don't foresee a Nuggets run to the title, but the mix of young talent and veterans combined with the playoff experience they gained a season ago could set them up nicely. The Nuggets are another team that dominates its home floor but still plays decently on the road, which is necessary for a deep postseason run.
Denver began the season with +2000 odds and they haven't moved despite the dominance of the Los Angeles teams, so we'll take it as a good sign that the number has stuck. As long as they land in the top four seeds, they also get to avoid the Clippers and Lakers until the conferernce semifinals or finals (if one loses).