Updated NBA Finals Odds and Analysis for December 2021
We are at the quarter pole of the 2021-22 NBA season. By now, we have plenty of game film to identify which teams are serious NBA Finals contenders.
Most of the preseason favorites remain at the top, but we have seen teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers struggle.
As we begin December, it’s time to take an updated look at the 2022 NBA Finals. Let’s start by looking at the odds for the top contenders.
Updated 2022 NBA Finals Odds
Not much of a surprise to see the Brooklyn Nets remain the favorite. The Golden State Warriors hot start has allowed them to jump the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks.
Speaking of the Lakers, they remain third despite an 11-11 start. There’s still a lot of confidence in a LeBron James-led team.
Let’s start things out by discussing the favorite.
Brooklyn Nets (+240)
I wrote about the 2022 NBA Finals in July, October, and November. The one constant in every article was the Brooklyn Nets being the favorite.
Brooklyn came into the season without Kyrie Irving, but that has yet to slow them down.
At the end of October, the Nets were only 4-3. Since then, they are 10-3 and hold a one-game lead in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps the only issue for the Nets is their record against elite teams.
Going back to the beginning of the season, here are the teams that have defeated Brooklyn.
- Milwaukee Bucks (127-104)
- Charlotte Hornets (111-95)
- Miami Heat (106-93)
- Chicago Bulls (118-95)
- Golden State Warriors (117-99)
- Phoenix Suns (113-107)
The Nets beat the Philadelphia 76ers in their second game of the season, but who is their next best win? Record-wise, the Washington Wizards are the best team they’ve defeated this season. None of their other wins have come against a team at least two games over .500.
Is that a big concern right now? Probably not, but it’s interesting to note. Also, most of those losses were close.
Following October, there was concern about James Harden. Luckily, he managed to turn things around in November.
- 21.2 points
- 9.8 assists
- 8.0 rebounds
- 1.6 steals
- 41.1 field goal percentage
All of those statistics mark an improvement from the beginning of the season. Harden’s points per game are the biggest difference, as they were 18.6 in October.
I should also mention that Kevin Durant continues to play on an MVP level. He is averaging 28.6 points on 41.1 percent three-point shooting.
Let’s see if Brooklyn can take care of business against elite teams.
Top Challengers for the NBA Finals
The Brooklyn Nets might be the favorite, but they aren’t the best team in the league. Here are their top challengers.
Golden State Warriors (+650)
The Golden State Warriors continue to impress.
In the earliest release of the 2022 NBA Finals odds, Golden State was at (+1200). As you can see, their odds have improved a ton, and they are one of the favorites to win it all.
In their last three games alone, they’ve defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Clippers.
We can attribute the success of the Warriors to Stephen Curry. Curry came into the season as the MVP favorite, and there’s no reason to back off that stance.
- 28.6 points
- 6.8 assists
- 5.8 rebounds
- 1.8 steals
- 42.3 three-point percentage
In our last installment, I mentioned how Curry’s three-point percentage was lower than usual. Well, maybe he took it personally because he shot 44.0 percent from downtown in November.
As of this writing, he has knocked down at least five three-pointers in five of his last six games.
With Curry playing at a high level, it’s no surprise that the Warriors are second in points per game. However, they’ve also allowed the fewest points per game this season.
The former defensive player of the year is averaging 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.9 blocks. He ranks top five in defensive win share and defensive box plus/minus.
I know everyone has been talking about it, but help is on the way for Golden State. Klay Thompson and James Wiseman are playing in the G League and should return in the next month or two.
The Warriors aren’t going anywhere, and they might be even better come playoff time.
Los Angeles Lakers (+800)
Are the Los Angeles Lakers a championship contender? That’s a great question because their odds say yes, but their record says no.
There’s been some turmoil with the Lakers this season. Russell Westbrook’s fit hasn’t been as great as they hoped, Anthony Davis is shooting 20.5 percent from three-point range, and LeBron James has missed 11 games.
They hired Frank Vogel ahead of the 2019-20 season because of his defensive approach. That paid off in his first two seasons, as the Lakers finished top five in points allowed.
Unfortunately, they have gone in a different direction this season.
Right now, the Lakers have allowed the third-most points per game. Their offense ranks second in points per game, but I almost feel like that’s most of a product of their defense putting pressure on them.
Check out their scoring differential in their seven wins in November.
- Points Scored Per Game: 119.1
- Points Allowed Per Game: 114.4
You can’t expect your offense to put up 115+ points every night. That’s why half of their losses in November have come by at least seven points.
A plus for the Lakers has been the success of James. Since returning from his injury, he has scored at least 30 points in three of his five games. He also shot 52.5 percent from the field in November.
Right now, the Lakers need to string together a few wins. They haven’t had a win streak longer than two games since the end of October. That’s the first step towards returning to the top of the Western Conference.
Top Sleepers for the NBA Finals
Last season showed us that anything can happen in the playoffs. Let’s see which sleepers I have my eye on.
Phoenix Suns (+1300)
I almost feel like I’m cheating using the Phoenix Suns as a sleeper. Right now, they have the second-best record in the NBA and aren’t among the favorites to win it all.
Am I missing something? Oh well, the sportsbooks loss is our gain.
Phoenix lost three of their first four games but are on a 16-game win streak and have a 17-3 record. Their top wins include the Dallas Mavericks (2X) and Brooklyn Nets.
Early in the season, Devin Booker struggled to shoot the ball. In November, we’ve seen him put up shooting numbers that are well above his career-high.
- 47.3 Field Goal Percentage
- 44.7 Three-Point Percentage
Booker has shot over 40 percent from three-point range in nine straight games. Teams have yet to find a way to slow him down.
Right alongside Booker is his running mate, Chris Paul.
I’m sure most people know by now that Paul’s impact goes well beyond the stat sheet. Right now, he is averaging 14.5 points and leads the league with 10.1 assists. He is also making a significant impact on defense with 2.0 steals per game.
During their win streak, Phoenix has held their opponent under 100 points seven times. That’s very impressive in today’s NBA.
In last season’s NBA Finals, the Suns allowed 105+ points in every game. That includes a Game 5 loss in which they scored 119 points.
Phoenix has all the looks of a team ready to return to the NBA Finals. Can they overcome the Golden State Warriors and steal the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference?
Miami Heat (+1500)
Coming into the season, the Miami Heat were one of the top sleeper picks. They were one of the most improved teams in free agency after signing Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, and Markieff Morris.
So far, it looks like the Heat have a good return on their investment.
They had a bit of a slow start to November, losing four of their first six games. Since then, Miami has won six of their last nine games and sits third in the Eastern Conference.
Miami has quite a few impressive victories this month.
- @ Dallas Mavericks: 125-110
- Utah Jazz: 118-115
- @ Utah Jazz: 111-105
- @ Chicago Bulls: 107-104
As long as they keep that up, they’ll earn a spot in the top four of the Eastern Conference.
I know guys like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have been great this season, but is it possible Miami’s best player comes off the bench? Yes, I’m talking about Tyler Herro.
Herro had so much hype last season but failed to take the next step. This season, we’ve seen him do that and then some.
- 21.8 points
- 5.7 rebounds
- 3.7 assists
- 45.4 field goal percentage
- 39.8 three-point percentage
Right now, Herro has to be the favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award. He is the reason the Heat are among the league leaders in bench scoring.
He ranks top-five in numerous advanced metrics, including player efficiency rating, win shares, box plus/minus, and value over replacement player.
Perhaps the best thing about the Heat is they have the best head coach in the league.
Betting on the NBA Finals in 2021-22
We’re starting to see who the true contenders are. The Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors look poised for the NBA Finals, but there are still 60 games remaining. That’s a lot of time, and anything can change.
As always, you can use the top NBA betting sites to place your NBA Finals bet.