The Lakers and the Heat are still the favorites to win the NBA Championship, but we feel that the Celtics or Bulls will come out of the East and that the Mavericks offer the best value in the West.
The NBA Playoffs begin in about three weeks, and yet even at this late stage, there is good value available on some NBA Championship futures, mainly do to the sportsbooks continuing to overvalue the two favorites, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.
While we do feel that the Lakers have a legitimate shot to three-peat, they do not offer as much value as out top three contenders, and we think that the Heat are an awful bet right now given that they are probably just the third best team in the Eastern Conference.
We honestly feel that there are only six teams with a realistic chance to win the NBA Championship this season, and those will be the only six teams that we will take a look at,. We feel that our first three teams offer the most value, based on the NBA Future betting odds provided by BetJamaica, and the other three contenders offer little value. You would probably be better served by individual series bets on the latter three and parlaying those forward.
Boston Celtics (+400): We feel that the Celtics have the best team in the NBA this season, and thus they merit an automatic play as the third choice in the NBA odds on the championship futures. The Celtics have always stressed defense, and they once again have one of the best defenses in the league. In fact, Boston leads the NBA in scoring defense at just 90.9 points per game, ranks third in field goal percentage against at 43.5 percent, fifth in three point defense at 34.2 percent and second in defensive efficiency at 0.97 points per possession (actually 0.974, fractionally behind Chicago at 0.970). However, what sets this Celtics team apart from Boston teams of the past, as well as the rest of the NBA this season, is that in addition to that great defense, the Celts lead the NBA in field goal percentage on offense at 48.7 percent. They are no longer just the Big Three as Rajon Rondo has developed into one of the best point guards on the league, in fact leading the NBA with 11.5 assists per game. Under Rondo’s leadership, the Boston offense has an excellent effective field goal percentage of 52.0 percent, a figure helped along by 36.8 percent three-point shooting.
Chicago Bulls (+600): In case you have not noticed, the Bulls are currently the top seed in the Eastern Conference at 51-19 overall and they also have the best record in the league in NBA betting at 44-24-2 ATS. This is a nice price for a top seed, and we love the fact that Chicago probably has the best defense in the NBA. The Bulls rank second in the NBA behind the Celtics in scoring defense at 91.1 points per game, but they lead the NBA is field goal percentage against at 42.8 percent, three point defense at 32.9 percent and as mentioned earlier, in defensive efficiency by a slim margin over Boston. The Bulls are also unbeatable at home, where they are 31-4, so if they can hold n to the top seed, they are legitimate threats to reach the NBA Finals, making this price even more appealing. Also do not forget that Chicago has an MVP candidate in Derrick Rose, and although the Bulls collectively lag well behind the Celtics in most offensive numbers, which is the main reason why we think that the Celtics will win the championship, there is always the threat of Rose going off and willing the Bulls to victory at any time.
Dallas Mavericks (+1400): We think that the Mavericks are the second best team in the Western Conference behind the Lakers this season, and the gap between them may not be as great as some people think. Dallas definitely offers the best value though at 14/1, compared to just a shade better than 2/1 for the two-time defending champions. The Mavericks are third in the Western Standings, sitting just one game behind the Lakers and seven games behind the league-leading San Antonio Spurs, but Dallas would be in contention for the best record in the NBA if Dirk Nowitzki had not missed 10 games earlier this season. The Mavericks went 2-8 both straight up and against the NBA betting odds while Nowitzki was out including an uncharacteristic six-game losing streak, but when Dirk has been in the starting lineup this season, Dallas is a fantastic 48-13 straight up, a 78.7 percent winning percentage that would put them right there with the 57-14 Spurs. What is most impressive about Dallas is its 24-10 road record overall and 23-6 road record with a healthy Nowitzki, so this is a team that can overcome not having home court advantage in a playoff series.
Los Angeles Lakers (+225); The Lakers have a history of coasting through the regular season, and they took longer than usual to start asserting themselves this year. Still, that ‘coasting” still has them at 51-20 as the second seed in the West, and given their propensity for flipping the switch when the playoffs start, this should be a difficult team to dethrone. While we have no problem with the quality of this team, it is the odds that we feel do not make a future bet worth it. The Lakers seem to be the best case where parlaying their series money lines is the best approach, as they obviously have the talent to three-peat and parlaying the series money lines will almost certainly yield better than +225 odds if they do pull it off.
Miami Heat (+225); The Heat were supposed to be the best team in the history of basketball if you believed their preseason clippings, but this team was obviously overhyped, and the result has been a losing 33-37-1 record against the spread. The fact is that the Heat do not have much talent to support the Big Three, and even the Big Three has been the Big Two at times with Chris Bosh pulling disappearing acts now and then. For a team with two bona fide superstars, the Heat have been terrible in close games, only once all year winning a game on a winning shot in the last 10 seconds, and do not forget that Miami is 0-6 vs. the Celtics and Bulls and 8-14 straight up vs. teams ranked in the Sagarin top 10. That is obviously a bad omen for the playoffs, especially when you add in that they are only 17-17 vs. the other 15 current playoff teams, and they are grossly undervalued as co-favorites with the Lakers on the NBA Futures. We list the Heat here because they do have a chance to win it all if they can step up their game vs. stiff competition and in big game-winning spots, but we would not bet a penny on them. In fact, the best strategy for betting the Heat would be to find a sportsbook that allows you to bet on teams “not to win” the championship, as that should be a great bet at fairly low odds.
San Antonio Spurs (+400): Yes, the Spurs have the best record in the NBA, but unlike past years, they are winning with offense this year, averaging 103.6 points per game while ranking fifth in the NBA in field goal percentage at 47.3 percent, first in three point offense at 40.1 percent and second in offensive efficiency at 1.09 points per possession. However, the Spurs probably have the worst defense among our six contenders, and even with Coach Gregg Popovich limiting the minutes of his veteran players this season in anticipation of prolonged post-season minutes, we still do not think that San Antonio could beat the Lakers in four out of seven games even with the hone court advantage, and we also think that the Spurs could would lose to the Mavericks as long as Dirk Nowitzki is healthy.