As of now it looks like there will be a resumption to the NBA season that was postponed back in March when Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The league put a plan in place to have 22 teams meet inside a bubble in Orlando to complete the regular season and determine seedings for a full-fledged playoff. The completion of the regular season is set to begin on July 30. Bookmaker is offering a generous welcome bonus with a maximum of $1000.
While not much has changed as far as the odds go, the whole setup is unprecedented thanks to COVID. Homecourt advantage, which is always huge in the NBA, doesn’t exist inside the bubble. And there will be no fans in attendance. Several players have backed out already with about a month to go before the season resumes. We’ll likely have more withdraw before tip-off, changing the odds up until the games actually begin.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks were battling for the top spot in the overall league standings before the shutdown and they returned to the top spot on the odds board with LeBron’s squad at +232 having a slight edge of Giannis’s crew. Oddsmakers envision a three-team race with the Clippers at +290, the only other club with odds shorter than 12/1 at BookMaker.eu.
2019-20 NBA Championship Odds at BookMaker.eu
Los Angeles Lakers +232
Milwaukee Bucks +287
Los Angeles Clippers +290
Houston Rockets +1200
Boston Celtics +1300
Philadelphia 76ers +1950
Toronto Raptors +2350
Denver Nuggets +3300
Miami Heat +3850
Dallas Mavericks +4650
Utah Jazz +6500
New Orleans Pelicans +10500
Oklahoma City Thunder +13500
Indiana Pacers +15500
Portland Trail Blazers +17000
Memphis Grizzlies +21500
Brooklyn Nets +32500
Sacramento Kings +45000
San Antonio Spurs +45000
Orlando Magic +70000
Washington Wizards +80000
Phoenix Suns +100000
There are teams that don’t have a chance to win the O’Brien Trophy or even escape their respective conference. Yep, I’m looking at you Phoenix, San Antonio, Orlando and Washington. It does make for a good story that they actually got invited since they weren’t officially eliminated from the playoff race when the league shut down. But realistically they don’t have a chance.
There is no guarantee teams will look the same once the season resumes. Actually, it’s going to be just the opposite. Most clubs will have a decidedly different look considering players can opt out for any reason without repercussions from the league or their team. And then there’s that virus thing wreaking havoc on the entire globe. Players testing positive during the return to play will be sequestered and unable to participate.
We saw several players opt out of the return already, however none of them are considered game-changers around the league. Portland’s Trevor Ariza decided not to play and Damian Lillard is weighing his options. The Blazers were the ninth-seed in the West when the league went dark, 3.5-games behind Memphis. With odds of +17000 to win the title and +9500 to win the West they are a considerable longshot anyway.
Depth is invaluable and those moves weaken teams in what is now a sprint to the NBA Championship. Milwaukee and Boston are the deepest squads in the East and could afford to have a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Jayson Tatum miss a game or two. If that turns into something longer, say with a positive COVID test, it’ll be tough, but those teams can overcome.
Avery Bradley of the Lakers is the most interesting of the players to opt out since he’s the only one on a legitimate title winning team. The Lakers used the vacated roster spot to sign LeBron’s former Cavs teammate J.R. Smith. And you have to like what Doc Rivers did pre-shutdown with his Clippers. Loading up on depth players the Clips could be the strongest team once the return to play happens. The shutdown also benefitted both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who were dealing with ailments during the year.
I liked the Bucks when the season started over eight months ago, and as long as Antetokounmpo doesn’t withdraw and stays COVID-free, I’m sticking with them. They want this season to resume more than anyone since they are trying to make up for last season. They also had the best record in the NBA at the time of the shutdown. They were the best defensive team in the league by far and that should serve them well once the games begin since scoring could be a challenge.
Everything could change with one positive test. While basketball is a team sport there are certain players who are more important than others. The loss of Giannis hurts the Bucks’ chances. LeBron’s absence would seriously impact the Lakers. There are teams on the cusp who could take advantage of such misery.
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– Phil Simon, Gambling911.com