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Who will win the NBA Championship?

Who will win the NBA Championship?

The first round of the NBA playoffs served up its customary blend of drama, excitement, joy and heartbreak last week. Just eight teams are left standing and the Conference Semifinals are now underway, so the sportsbooks have adjusted their futures betting lines accordingly. These are the contenders for NBA Championship glory this season:

Golden State Warriors

Best Futures Betting Odds: +260 with BetMGM and Caesars

The Dubs have emerged as the outright favorites in the NBA Championship futures betting after easing to a 4-1 series win against the Nuggets last week. They dug deep to clinch a 117-116 victory over the Grizzlies in Game 1 of their Conference Semifinals showdown, led by the Splash Brothers. Draymond Green was ejected for a foul, weakening the defense, but Steph Curry and Klay Thompson put up enough points to edge a tight game.

Curry, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodola – four of the original five “death lineup” members – will provide crucial experience throughout the playoffs. Andrew Wiggins has been on an upward curve, and Jordan Poole provides youthful experience, so the Warriors look formidable.

If they get the better of the Grizzlies, a Conference Finals clash with either the Suns or the Mavericks would await. It is highly likely that we will see the Warriors face off against the Suns, who finished top of the Western Conference standings with the best record in the regular season. They met four times in the regular season, resulting in two wins apiece, so a series between them would be tight.

The Warriors are now just +110 with most sportsbooks to win the Western Conference, although PointsBet has a market leading +125. The Suns are now rated as +140 outsiders. The Dubs showed championship resilience in Game 1, according to Damian Lillard, and showed they could win ugly. Injuries over the past couple of years, along with the departure of Kevin Durrant, disrupted the Dubs dynasty, but it could be back on this year.

Phoenix Suns

Best Futures Betting Odds: +320 with BetMGM

A hamstring injury to Devin Booker threatened to derail Phoenix’s postseason. However, Chris Paul stepped up to lead the Suns to victory over the Pelicans in their first round series, recording double-doubles in two decisive games. Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges also stepped up with some big performances, helping to put New Orleans to the sword.

Booker is now back from injury, but it was a worrying time for Phoenix fans. It shows just how badly this team needs both Booker and Paul to be healthy and firing on all cylinders. If either man succumbs to injury, things could quickly go south against a talented Mavericks team. By betting on the Suns to win the NBA Championship, you are essentially betting that Booker and Paul stay healthy.

The Suns did win games without both of them in the regular season, but they would struggle deep into the postseason without either player. Question marks remain over Booker’s ability to recapture his pre-hamstring form, and there are legitimate concerns about the depth. Yet the Suns won 64 regular season games for a reason, so you cannot write them off.

Milwaukee Bucks

Best Futures Betting Odds: +500 with DraftKings

DraftKings now makes Milwaukee the +195 favorite to win the Eastern Conference for the second year in a row. Caesars Sportsbook and Unibet will only go to +170 on the Bucks, who proved they can flourish in the postseason when they were crowned NBA champions last year.

They looked back to their best when beating the Bulls 4-1 in their first round series. Everyone was anticipating a tough battle between the Boston Celtics’ solid defense and the Giannis Antetokounmpo juggernaut in the Conference Semifinals, but Game 1 proved to be very lopsided. The Greek Freak put up a triple-double en route to the Bucks winning 101-89, a result that caught a few people by surprise.

Khris Middleton has an MCL sprain, which will cause him to miss the series against the Celtics. It leaves Giannis and Jrue Holiday to carry the team. Bobby Portis will need to step up if Milwaukee is to clinch the series. The Bucks would then welcome Middleton back into the fold, leaving them well-placed to beat either the Heat or the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Finals. A bet on the Bucks at +500 therefore looks appealing, as you could then hedge by wagering on their NBA Finals opponents.

Boston Celtics

Best Futures Betting Odds: +550 with various

No team in the NBA has fared better than the Celtics in terms of defensive rating, opponent field goal percentage and 3-point percentage this season. Boston shut down Kevin Durrant with ease in the first round, leaving fans daring to dream of glory this year,

However, they struggled to cope with the threat posed by Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals. Jayson Tatum put in a strong performance, but he lacked support, as Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were off the pace. That was a worrying performance for Celtics fans.

Yet it is worth remembering that DraftKings initially had Boston as the -210 favorite to win this series. Dropping Game 1 at TD Garden is not a good look, but you can now find +110 on the Celtics winning the series. Their task is naturally a lot harder now, but if you write Game 1 off as an aberration, +110 on the Celtics could appeal to a lot of bettors, as could odds of -145 on the Celtics +1.5 games in the series spread.

Miami Heat

Best Futures Betting Odds: +600 with DraftKings and FanDuel

The Heat are best priced at just -350 with BetMGM to win their Conference Semifinals series against the 76ers after an injury to Joel Embiid. The regular season MVP candidate was already playing through the pain of a torn ligament in his right thumb, and he will miss at least two games of the series with an orbital bone fracture.

That hands Miami a significant advantage, although it is dealing with injury problems of its own. Jimmy Butler missed Game 5 of the first round series against the Hawks with an inflamed knee, while Kyle Lowry missed two games with a hamstring complaint.

The Heat had the best record in the east during the regular season, so they have to be considered as legit contenders. It earned them a comfortable clash with the Hawks in the last round, and they have home advantage against a banged-up Sixers.

If they make it through to the Conference Finals in four or five games, it would give Butler, Lowry and PJ Tucker time to rest, so the Heat could be dangerous. However, if it drags on to a seven-game battle, they could struggle in the Conference Finals.

Dallas Mavericks

Best Futures Betting Odds: +2500 with DraftKings

The Mavericks have advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. However, this could be the end of the road for Dallas. They have lost their last nine games against the Suns, including three in the regular season, which does not bode well for their Conference Semifinals series.

They could capitalize if Paul or Booker were to sustain an injury, but a fully healthy Suns should vanquish Dallas. If the Mavericks somehow manage to beat the Suns, they could go all the way, as this will be their toughest challenge, so it will be fascinating to see how they fare in the week ahead.

Memphis Grizzlies

Best Futures Betting Odds: +2500 with various

The Grizzlies were +215 underdogs for their series against the Warriors before it began. They have drifted out to +425 following an agonizing defeat to Golden State in Game 1.

The playoffs are all about fine margins, and Ja Morant’s missed layup in the closing seconds of that 117-116 defeat could come back to haunt them. The Dubs were out of sorts for large parts of that game, and they missed Draymond Green.

It was a perfect opportunity for Memphis to capitalize, but the Grizzlies fell just short, and they are now +2500 outsiders for the championship. All hope is not yet lost, as the Grizzlies beat Golden State in the Play-In tournament last year and won three of four regular season meetings between the teams this time around, but they look destined to crash out now.

Philadelphia 76ers

Best Futures Betting Odds: +2500 with DraftKings and BetMGM

The 76ers were +1600 to win the NBA Championship before news of Joel Embiid’s orbital fracture and concussion broke. They hope to get their star player back by Game 3 or Game 4 against the Heat, but it could be too late by then.

They made short work of Toronto in the first round, but Embiid was the driving force behind that success. The Sixers lack depth after the blockbuster James Harden trade, and they will need The Beard to be on fire against the Heat if they are to defy the odds. Philadelphia might appeal as a long-shot, but they look too banged-up right now.

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