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January Betting Update for the 2021 NBA Finals

| January 20, 2021 5:58 am PDT
January Betting Update for the 2021 NBA Finals

The 2020-21 NBA season is just over three weeks old. The teams that are dominating now won’t for sure be dominating in another month or two.

Injuries and trades can shake things up, too. Take the James Harden deal, for instance. With Harden exiting Houston, the Rockets go from struggling to possibly not even making the NBA playoffs.

The Brooklyn Nets, meanwhile, just might be the new favorite to win the title.

Is that how it should be? Is that how it will be? It’s probably too early to know anything for sure, but it certainly could be worth it to bettors to gauge the entire situation with a look at the latest 2021 NBA Finals odds.

To do that, join me as I issue a 2021 NBA Finals betting update. This breakdown is complete with the latest odds from the best betting sites, top contenders, and sleepers you may want to consider betting on before the year is done.

Updated 2021 NBA Finals Odds

These are the latest 2021 NBA Finals odds over at BetOnline. They’re keeping the Lakers are the understandable favorites, as L.A. won the title last year and only improved their roster.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t nearly impressive as they were a year ago, statistically, but as I write this, the Lakers lead the way in most NBA power rankings. They also happen to own the league’s best record.

Brooklyn jumps to the second spot after trading for James Harden.

This is hardly surprising, as the Nets had the 6th best NBA Finals odds before the season began. They still have to sort things out with Kyrie Irving, but nobody can refute they’re stacked now.

Nothing else in the latest installment of 2021 NBA Finals odds is too shocking. A few teams are being disrespected, but as is the case most years, you should really only be looking at a handful of teams when betting on the NBA Finals.

Let’s break down the best options with a look at the top contenders, as well as some 2021 NBA Finals sleepers.

Analyzing the Top Contenders

If bettors are serious about betting on the 2021 NBA Finals, they’ll start trimming the fat early in the season. That isn’t to say top contenders will always stay at the top or that other teams can’t vault up the standings.

Brooklyn was already in the conversation, but a splashy move for an elite scorer obviously cements them as a true title threat if you didn’t have them as one already.

The Nets are in a select group of legit NBA Finals threats. Here’s a quick look at that pool.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have an aging superstar to monitor, and they’re probably tired after being the last team standing in the playoffs last year. 

But they’re still the best team in the NBA.

Until someone knocks them off of their pedestal, it’ll be tough to write off L.A.’s chance of repeating. 

Los Angeles owns the 6th most efficient offense and the #1 defense. Barring a random injury, I don’t see why anyone should be betting against them right now.

Brooklyn Nets

Are the Nets deserving of the second-best 2021 NBA Finals odds? In their current state, perhaps not. Nobody knows what the addition of James Harden actually means, and there are a lot of wrinkles to iron out.

For one, Kyrie Irving isn’t even with the team right now.

How will Harden fit in, and will this splash trade mess with the team’s chemistry and depth? How good can this team be defensively, too? 

I’m totally in agreement that there are questions abound, but nobody else has a better trio from a talent and scoring perspective. That keeps Brooklyn in the conversation to win it all.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers didn’t answer the call as the logical threat to the Lakers last year, but last season was weird. The bubble was taxing, and L.A. was sleepwalking their way to a 3-1 series lead – that they eventually blew – against Denver.

With a new coach and better focus, the Clips once again look like the biggest threat to the Lake Show. 

Paul George is playing out of his mind right now, after all.

If PG-13 and Kawhi Leonard play like this come playoff time, the only team that should be able to stop them is the “other” L.A. squad.

Milwaukee Bucks

Lastly, you have the Bucks, who were the best team in terms of record over the last two years. 

That dominance led to consecutive MVP awards for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he ultimately committed to the franchise long-term.

Milwaukee is back to their dominant selves after a slow start, and they’re operating the league’s best offense. Adding Jrue Holiday should help their defense in the long run, and the Bucks arguably have the best depth they’ve had in years.

The Bucks also have a top-5 defense, which may allow them to fend off the explosive Nets and get to the Finals. But if the Bucks can’t stop Brooklyn (or vice versa), I’m not sure anyone else can.

Yeah, that’s the list.

Again, that isn’t to say things can’t change. 

However, these are now the four most talented teams across both conferences, and I’d be fairly shocked if the 2021 NBA Finals wasn’t made up of a matchup consisting of these four franchises.

2021 NBA Finals Sleepers

I’m only seeing four teams as viable threats to win the 2021 NBA Finals. Yes, Miami got there last season, and teams like the 76ers, Celtics, and Nuggets are certainly close.

But when you see a title contender, you know it. I think those teams still have some work to do. They do offer really nice betting value, of course, while there are always a few NBA Finals sleepers worth considering.

Of the lot, the following stand out the most for me right now.

Dallas Mavericks 

Luka Doncic got over a slow start and has Dallas back in the playoff mix. He’s still the favorite to win the 2021 NBA MVP, and if he locks down that award, it’s probably because he has elevated the Mavs to new heights.

He can’t do it all on his own, but the team did help their defense by trading for Josh Richardson, and the return of a healthy Kristaps Porzingis gives him the second star he needs.

Dallas is far from a lock to even win a playoff series, but the pairing of Doncic/Porzingis offers incredible upside. It’s possible they have enough offense to make a deep run, and at +2500, they’re offering solid value.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns have struggled a bit lately, so much so that head coach Monty Williams has entertained shaking the starting lineup up.

I won’t quit the Suns just yet, though, as they have as much talent as anyone and have Chris Paul leading the charge. 

Is it realistic to expect the Suns to make the leap from fringe playoff threat to title contender in one year? Maybe not, but CP3 can have a huge impact, and he’s already helped the Suns improve defensively.

If the Suns can build their chemistry, tighten up their defense, and unlock big man Deandre Ayton, they just might have something here.

Golden State Warriors

Lastly, let’s not rule out the Warriors shocking the world. I’ll be the first to admit that this team is terrible defensively while supporting pieces like Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins aren’t amazing.

But Stephen Curry sure can be. Curry reminded everyone of that when he poured in a career-high 62 points earlier this season.

It’s pretty arguable Curry needs to be flat-out elite for Golden State to simply make the playoffs, but their system is working, and for now, the Dubs look like a playoff team. 

The maturation of James Wiseman – and perhaps a big trade down the road – will say a lot about this team, but Curry keeps them in the discussion.


It’s a bit early to overreact to team records, trades, injuries, or even odds. But as things stand, the pool of teams truly capable of going all the way this year is probably a lot smaller than you’d think.

Teams like Miami and Denver benefited immensely from the bubble last year. If their series were actually in Milwaukee and L.A., my guess is they don’t advance as far as they did.

With the 2021 NBA playoffs slated to look more like everyone is accustomed to seeing, things get a little more predictable. That doesn’t mean you have to write off some of those intermediate options, or refrain from betting on sleepers, of course.

However, the Lakers take the cake for me. They won last year, they got better, and as things stand, they have the best record (and the best odds). Only time will tell which team actually wins the 2021 NBA Finals, of course.

For constant updates and betting insight, be sure to bookmark our NBA betting blog. To get a quick look at the other NBA content, we have to offer, check out some of the links below.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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