Betting on Which Teams Will Play in the 2019-20 NBA Finals
It’s funny how every single year, the NBA Finals feel at least partially mapped out for us. That makes this season feel pretty refreshing, since it’s arguably the widest open The Association has been, well, ever.
That isn’t to say everyone saw the Toronto Raptors coming a year ago. The arrival of Kawhi Leonard put the Raptors on the map as legit title contenders, but how many people truly pegged them as the favorites?
Not many. And with Kawhi Leonard bolting yet again, in addition to a litany of other free agency moves, we get an even cloudier NBA playoff picture.
Betting on the NBA got a whole lot harder this summer, but it also should be more fun than ever. Whether it’s betting on individual games during the year, the NBA MVP, or who wins the title, there is a lot of wiggle room to work with and even more upside if bettors make the right calls.
The good news, of course, is that even with all of this change and a little more unpredictability sprinkled into the league, I still think there is a small collection of teams that can go the distance.
Suffice it to say, a suddenly unpredictable NBA betting world might be a little easier to gauge than our first reaction may have revealed. That’s the hope, at least.
Picking the ultimate champion still won’t necessarily be a walk in the park this year, but successfully betting on the two teams that meet up in the NBA Finals doesn’t have to be difficult.
With that, here’s a look at some of the possible NBA Finals matchup odds pertaining to the only potential title series I think have a real chance of happening.
NBA Teams That Can Get to the Finals
First, let’s take a look at every team that has a realistic shot at reaching the 2019-20 NBA Finals.
I know, everyone has a chance, but if we really look at these teams, we can start pointing out flaws and breaking things down to the point where the true NBA title contenders show themselves.
With that, here are the NBA teams I think are seriously in the mix for a title run in 2019-20, as well as a few “pretenders” that may be just barely on the outside looking in.
Top NBA Finals Contenders
This list should be pretty self-explanatory, and it shouldn’t take a whole lot more effort than tracking the major moves from the offseason or checking out the latest NBA Finals odds.
Here are the current top threats for the NBA Finals and their betting odds, per MyBookie.ag.
Nope, that’s it. But there are still six different teams to consider for winning the NBA Finals this year, so you may have your work cut out for you to narrow things down to a confident wager.
The top NBA betting sites are obviously favoring the two LA teams here, and rightfully so. Kawhi Leonard just got done bringing Toronto their first NBA title, and King James is teaming up with The Brow in La La Land.
If one of those teams makes it to the NBA Finals, it’s fair to guess they win the championship.
The Eastern Conference is almost certainly down to the Bucks or 76ers. The departure of massive superstars like James and Leonard over the last two seasons has busted this conference wide open, but two powerhouse franchises still stand above everyone else.
The Dubs and Rockets, two of the very best teams over the last several years, still get the benefit of the doubt here as viable contenders to win the NBA Finals in 2019-20. Houston made a splash move to acquire Russell Westbrook and could be better than ever, while Golden State can’t be ruled out if they eventually get a healthy Klay Thompson back.
Potential NBA Finals Pretenders
In reality, the Warriors could be slid into this pretender section. I don’t see them going very far without Klay Thompson, and maybe even if he does return, they just won’t be good enough after losing so many bodies (most notably, Kevin Durant).
Thompson has also said that he won’t rush back, so there is a very good possibility Golden State will be under-manned all throughout the playoffs.
I’ll pay them respect by including them, but here’s the next batch of teams that absolutely have the look and feel of a strong playoff team but might not quite be ready to compete for a title.
You could also call most of the above teams NBA Finals sleepers. They offer enough upside to consider for a flier bet, but I wouldn’t say they’re remotely safe to bet on to win it all.
Utah, Denver, and Boston probably have the best shot in that regard, but they also have glaring issues.
The Jazz obviously have to emerge out of the brutal Western Conference. Even beyond having to get past the LA teams, they’d still probably have a tough time fending off the Warriors, Rockets, Blazers, Nuggets, and perhaps even the Spurs.
Utah is going to be nasty defensively, and they receive a small bump with Mike Conley coming to town. But I don’t buy them as a true title bet worth your money.
The same goes for Denver. When Nikola Jokic is your superstar, there’s probably only so far you can go. Same for Boston, who made a lateral move going from Kyrie Irving to Kemba Walker and also lost Al Horford.
If those teams aren’t reliable wagers, then forget about the Pacers, Blazers, and everyone else. These are all good teams and serious playoff threats. They’re just not about to go win the NBA championship just yet.
Best NBA Finals Matchups to Bet On
Now we get to the good stuff. Betting on the NBA Finals winner is a lot to ask right now, but bettors can take a few shots at possible NBA Finals matchups and give themselves a much better chance at profiting.
I hate to rule out so many teams this early in the year, but when push comes to shove, I really only see a handful of NBA Finals matchups being truly likely. Here they are, along with their odds.
This is as far as I go when I’m being real with myself about the potential 2019-20 NBA Finals matchups. I hear the cries about the upside for Denver, Indiana, and so many others, but barring some catastrophic injury, those teams are not going to edge out Milwaukee, Philly, either LA team, or even Houston.
The one team that may even be a reach would be the Rockets. However, Houston is built very well, and they’re as explosive as anyone offensively. If the Rockets can figure out a way to perfectly blend James Harden and Russell Westbrook together, that could end up being a severely underrated move by bettors.
The real value lies with Houston, and then you need to pick someone out of the East.
Right now, I think that ends up being the Bucks, just because they have the most dynamic player in that conference, and from top to bottom, I believe Milwaukee has the deepest, most versatile roster on that side of the league as well.
Who Will Play in the 2019-20 NBA Finals?
I have some NBA Finals sleeper bets I like, but I’m really only looking at six possible NBA Finals matchups this year. If I want to cut things down even further, I’d eliminate the Rockets and have this be down to figuring out who makes the Finals between Philly/Milwaukee and the two Los Angeles squads.
At the end of the day, I love the Bucks and Clippers to face off this summer.
Philadelphia is going through major change for the second year in a row. They have twice rebuilt this team on the fly, and I don’t like this variation as much as I liked last year’s team. Al Horford and Joel Embiid could be too clunky together, while the team lost a lot of shooting over the past two seasons.
There is always the Embiid health concern, the fact that Ben Simmons can’t shoot, and also a lack of depth. Jimmy Butler headed to South Beach hurts this team’s perimeter defense and ability to close late in games, too.
The Bucks have everything you could want in a title threat. They have the reigning NBA MVP, a strong supporting cast of guys who largely can defend and also hit the long ball, fantastic coaching, and impressive depth.
I don’t see a deeper or more versatile team in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks may not win the title, but I do think they’ll get to the NBA Finals in 2019-20.
On the other side, it is incredibly difficult to rule out the Lake Show. The Lakers already look like a ton of fun after seeing them in the preseason, and if King James is himself, they could be dangerous.
The pairing of James and Anthony Davis could somehow be underrated. However, the rest of this roster has a lot to prove. Guys like Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley feel like they’re on life support, while chemistry, outside shooting, and overall defensive aptitude could be major question marks for this team.
I am not seeing the same red flags for the Clippers, who honestly might have the top player in The Association in Kawhi Leonard. The Clips also snagged PG-13, which, in my opinion, gives the “other” LA team the best superstar duo in all of basketball.
The crazy thing about the Clippers is they already had a title-winning head coach in Doc Rivers and were as feisty as can be last year. Remember, this team made the playoffs and even stole two games against Golden State in the first round of the playoffs.
LA added two absolute studs to a team that was very cohesive (10th in efficiency) on offense last year and also flashed defensive ability. With two clutch offensive players (that also happen to be elite on-ball defenders) now leading the charge, the Clippers are the team to beat in the West and quite arguably in the entire NBA.
Bettors don’t need to take that leap just yet, though. Instead, the NBA sportsbooks have given us another way to profit. Just bet on the Bucks vs. Clippers NBA Finals matchup for 2019-20.
Bucks vs. Clippers+700