NBA betting tips: Eight contenders for glory
The 2021 NBA playoffs get under way tonight after the inaugural ‘play-in’ tournament completed the line-up of the eight teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Teams that finished seventh and eighth faced off, with the winner becoming the seventh seed for their respective conference, while the loser of that contest took on the victor between the ninth and 10th-placed match-up for the remaining play-off spot.
The Nets are 9/4 favourites to claim their first ever NBA title as we look at four teams from each conference who could take home the 2021 crown.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 20, 2021
The 76ers, who have the second-best defensive record in the league behind the Los Angeles Lakers, will hope to suffocate their rivals as they target their first NBA title since 1983. With the likes of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris in the team, Philadelphia, priced at 17/2, have the firepower to prevail and should reach the Eastern Conference Final at a minimum.
We'll see you soon, Brooklyn.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 20, 2021
Brooklyn have the superstar names but will they deliver? With Steve Nash at the helm and James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in their ranks, it is no wonder they are favourites. The only concern is that the trio have only played eight times together due to injuries and personal reasons. The Nets could also face Milwaukee in the semi-finals and they lost 2-1 to the Bucks in the regular season series.
The Bucks are always dangerous with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the attack. Milwaukee are maybe overly reliant on the ‘Greek Freak’ but he is one of the leading men in the league and could fire them to 8/1 glory on the 50th anniversary of their sole NBA crown. He is ably assisted by Khris Middleton and the pair need to be firing on all cylinders for the Bucks to taste success.
New York Knicks
New York are in the post-season for the first time since 2013 after a terrific season under Tom Thibodeau as the Knicks improved from 12th to fourth in the East. Julius Randle’s performances saw him become an All-Star, while Derrick Rose has enjoyed a renaissance on his return to Madison Square Garden. With several promising youngsters on the roster, it is an exciting period for the Knicks who are outsiders at 80/1.
The Nuggets enjoyed a fine campaign as they finished second in a competitive Western Conference. They suffered an untimely injury as Jamal Murray was ruled out for the season with a knee issue but still have Nikola Jokic to dominate the scoring charts. They face in-form Portland Trail Blazers in the first round but could go under the radar at 20/1.
Dallas could only finish fifth in the standings but have been less reliant on star Luka Doncic this season, which could stand them in good stead. Kristaps Porzingis has been more consistent, while the likes of Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson have added valuable points on the scoreboard. The Mavericks take on the Los Angeles Clippers in round one and are priced at 33/1 for their second NBA success.
Los Angeles Lakers
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 20, 2021
Los Angeles have been dogged by injuries this year, with LeBron James missing over 20 games with a sprained ankle and Anthony Davis also sitting out some of the season. But James’ timely return saw the Lakers win their last six contests and they will be a dark horse to defend their title at 9/2. They defeated Golden State Warriors in the ‘play-in’ so will face the Phoenix Suns, who are the second seeds.
Despite finishing top of the Western Conference, Utah could be the unlucky winners during their shortened NBA campaign. They will face the Memphis Grizzlies in their first round,but they should not fear anyone after ending the regular season with a 52-20 record. Jordan Clarkson has realised his potential at the Jazz and with All-Stars Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell in the squad, they are well valued at 13/2 to win their first ever NBA title.
How to watch: Sky Sports
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication