There are a ton a possible NBA Finals outcomes that could come as a result of the new playoff format. While it’s clear that the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks are on top, the extended break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has allowed other teams around the league to regroup. We break down some of the matchups we think are most likely to occur below. You can check out all the odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.
10) Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers (+2500)
Miami has two all stars, but also relies on young, inexperienced players for a ton of production. Will Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, and other unproven players pull through in the playoffs? If they continue playing like they did in the regular season, the Heat have an outside shot.
9) Milwaukee Bucks vs. Denver Nuggets (+1900)
The Nuggets are only 1 1⁄2 games back from the Clippers and have thrived with Nikola Jokic running the offense. The big man has plenty of young talent around him and appears to be in the best shape of his life. But Denver could be limited by its lack of wing depth to guard players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George.
8) Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets (+6000)
The Rockets have the third best odds in their conference (+700) to reach the championship series while the 76ers have the fourth-best odds (+900). Both sides have two All-Stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Both teams have a legit shot at a title run.
7) Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Clippers (+2700)
These two are fifth and sixth, respectively, in defensive rating and both depend on the performance of two-way stars. Los Angeles is the second best team to bet on in the Western Conference, and I think the Philadelphia has a good chance like a team that’s better than sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
6) Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Lakers (+1900)
The Raptors are slightly behind the Celtics for me. It is impressive that they’ve managed to hold onto a second place in their conference while being banged up, but there hasn’t been any update on the ultra-essential Fred VanVleet.
5) Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers (+1900)
Boston has a plethora of versatile wings and only trails the Raptors by 3.0 games. They’re 2-1 against the Raptors and .500 against the Bucks. The Celtics are strong at every position but center and are one of the more well-rounded teams in the Eastern Conference.
4) Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers (+2500)
The 76ers were one shot away from the conference finals last year and have two do-it-all stars at their disposal. Even though Philadelphia has been underwhelming this year, I think a fresh Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can make a run against any team.
3) Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets (+1100)
Although the Rockets are sixth in the Western Conference, they’re a dark horse to look out for. The Lakers are the only other team with more than one All-Star. Houston will have time to fully incorporate Robert Covington into its system, and if James Harden gets out of the shooting slump that plagued him before the break.
2) Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Clippers (+350)
The Lakers only have a slight edge over the Clippers in the Western Conference. Only 5 1⁄2 games separate these two teams, and the Clippers are 2-1 against the Lakers this season. The Bucks should have a much easier road to the championship in the Eastern Conference.
1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers (+310)
These are the two teams sitting atop their respective conferences. The Bucks and Lakers have the two best records in the league, and each side has a top two MVP contender.
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