Part of the reason the NFL playoffs are so heavily bet on is that pro football these days has so much parity. Sure, the Patriots keep landing in the Super Bowl. But there is a new NFC champion crowned basically every year and it’s no sure thing that the Pats are actually going to seal the deal in the Big Game.
The NBA is not nearly as fun, on the surface, as it’s basically been a lock since the day Kevin Durant arrived in the Bay Area that the Golden State Warriors are going to win it all each June. The odds for the Warriors to win the title right now are an obscene -275 with the No. 2 team – the Toronto Raptors – owning 8/1 odds.
Even if Durant or Steph Curry go down with a season-ending injury between now and mid-June you can bet that the Dubs will still be favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Sure, you could put a flier on the the Sixers to win it all at 15/1. But even the biggest homer would have to admit that beating the Warriors four times out of seven games is a task taller than Joel Embiid on stilts.
So what should bettors do about this NBA conundrum?
The answer is to avoid championship futures altogether, and instead look at conference championship odds.
The Eastern Conference is entirely wide open, offers great mystery, and great odds. Here are the odds for the top five teams in the East.
A final four in the East of the Raptors, Bucks, Celtics and Sixers seems like a lock with any of the four teams being able to take down another one. A good play here would be to hedge and pick two of the four to represent the East in the Finals. I’d take the Sixers and Celtics at those odds.
The Raptors look like world-beaters right now but there is legit concern that they’re peaking too soon – something that often happens in the NBA.
Marc Gasol was brought in as another body to match up with Joel Embiid but it’s unlikely that the 34-year-old will be able to keep up with Embiid when he’s out on the perimeter. Embiid has had great success against Toronto this season as he has a pair of 30-plus point games against them in 2018-19.
The Celtics also have an excellent chance at finally living up to their preseason hype as they have not only shown that they have the Sixers’ number but that they can also dispose of the Bucks. Boston beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the first round of last year’s playoffs without the services of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.