With the second round of the 2020-21 playoffs moving along, NBA championship odds are getting more attention. And the morning of June 16 brought news to two contenders that shook things up, as bookmakers honed their odds to win the NBA Finals.
Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has a knee injury, and Phoenix Suns standout Chris Paul is now in COVID protocols, leading to adjustments on the NBA championship odds board. The Brooklyn Nets remain the favorite to win the NBA Finals, but it's getting more and more interesting as the postseason continues.
Let's check in on odds to win the NBA Finals, through games played June 10.
2021 NBA Championship odds
Odds above are up-to-date and reflect the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Compare NBA futures odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.
NBA Championship futures action report
The Phoenix Suns were a big surprise during the regular season, and they kept the party rolling in the playoffs. First, the Suns eliminated the Lakers in six games, after trailing that series 2-1. Then, Phoenix swept MVP Nikola Jokic and Denver right out of Round 2, taking that series in four games.
But on the morning of June 16, news broke that Chris Paul entered the league's COVID protocols, so his status is uncertain for the Western Conference finals. Fortunately, Paul has a little time on his side, as the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz do battle for the other slot in the West finals. Recognizing that, PointsBet USA made a relatively modest move on the Suns, who are still the third choice in odds to win the NBA championship, but fell from +400 to +500.
However, the Clippers had a larger drawdown on news that Kawhi Leonard's knee injury, suffered in a Game 4 victory over Utah, could keep him out the rest of the series. That matchup is tied at 2, with Game 5 on June 16 in Salt Lake City. PointsBet USA had the Clippers as the +550 fourth choice and dropped them to the +900 sixth choice.
PointsBet's best championship outcome would be from the Clippers, though the Leonard injury makes that a much more challenging prospect.
"Bettors shied away from betting the Clippers all season, after seeing them get bounced early in the playoffs last year," PointsBet USA sports analyst Mike Korn said.
Paul's situation doesn't look as concerning as Kawhi's status. Those who got on the Suns before the playoffs, or better yet after the Round 1 Game 3 loss against the Lakers, probably still likes their position.
"The Suns came into the playoffs at +2,500 odds to win it all. That price got as high as +5,000 after the Lakers went up 2-1 in the first-round series," Korn said. "That being said, after (sweeping) the Nuggets, the Suns' odds shifted all the way into +400 to win the title."
Meanwhile, the news out of Phoenix and L.A. led PointsBet to move Utah from +500 to the +300 second choice, trailing only the Brooklyn Nets (+185).
As far as needs and liabilities, Korn pointed to two teams key to PointsBet's NBA futures market.
"The Nuggets (were) our top liability, which is largely due to our Colorado presence," Korn said, so PointsBet is certainly pleased to see Denver hit the bricks. "The Nets winning would actually be a good result for the futures book. Given their price has been so short as the favorite, we were able to balance our futures book so that the Nets winning would be positive for the book."
Nets' odds to win the NBA Championship
The Brooklyn Nets remain atop the NBA championship odds board, with PointsBet USA pegging Kevin Durant & Co. +185 to win the title as of June 16. Brooklyn coasted past Boston in five games in the first round of the NBA playoffs, then took a 2-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks that had the Nets on the brink of minus money, at +105. However, Brooklyn then lost Games 3 and 4 to the Bucks, before rebounding with a Game 5 victory.
The Utah Jazz are now the No. 2 choice in odds to win the NBA championship, sitting at +300 while tied at 2 in a second-round with the Los Angeles Clippers. Los Angeles fell from +450 to +1,400 after going down 2-0 to Utah, rose to +700 after taking Game 3 and +500 after tying the series in Game 4. But the June 16 news of Kawhi Leonard (knee) potentially missing the rest of the series led PointsBet to drop the Clippers to the +900 sixth choice among the seven remaining teams.
Third on PointsBet's odds board are the Phoenix Suns, though they slipped from +400 to +500 on news that Chris Paul is in COVID protocols. The Suns are followed by the Philadelphia 76ers (+700) and Milwaukee Bucks (+750).
Then comes the aforementioned Clippers, and rounding out the NBA championship odds board at PointsBet USA are the Atlanta Hawks at +5,000, though the Hawks head into their June 16 Game 5 against the 76ers tied at two games apiece.
Understanding NBA Championship odds
Sportsbooks will post NBA finals odds as early as the summer before the season starts. These NBA futures are constantly adjusted throughout the offseason as players get hurt, suspended or are traded. Once the regular season begins, NBA finals odds will change daily as teams win and lose games and as more players get hurt, suspended or traded. Sportsbooks will also adjust the NBA title odds based on handle and liability to certain teams.
NBA Championship odds will usually look like this:
- Milwaukee Bucks +240
This means that on a $100 bet, you'll stand to win $240 if the Bucks win the NBA title. If it's close to the end of the regular season or even during the playoffs and the NBA has a very dominant team, you might see that a team is has a minus sign (-) ahead of its odds.
- Golden State Warriors -150
This means that if you bet on the Golden State Warriors during the 2018-2019 NBA season you would have needed to bet $150 to profit $100 if the Warriors won the championship.
Above we have posted the American odds for the NBA championship. However, these are easy to convert to decimal odds or fractional odds with our odds converter tool.
How to bet NBA Finals odds
There are many strategies to consider when making an NBA futures bet on which team will win the championship. Obviously, you're looking to bet on who you think can navigate through the NBA playoffs and come out on top. So just because a team is in first place at the NBA All-Star break, it doesn't mean that's the best roster to win in the postseason.
One thing to consider is the conference the teams play in because a team needs to win its conference before it can win the NBA title. The West has long been considered the better of the two conferences, but the East's depth of elite teams hasn't been this great in decades.
Also, consider how an injury may affect a futures bet. Let's say the Milwaukee Bucks are a heavy favorite to win the Eastern Conference and a short favorite to win the NBA title. But what happens if Giannis Antetokounmpo gets hurt? In that case, a futures bet on another East contender has tremendous value.
Other things to consider are strength of schedule, and even load management. Maybe a team is undervalued in the futures market because it has played the more difficult portion of its schedule early on. Or perhaps a team has more losses than it should because it has been sitting its best player on the second half of back-to-back games all season.
Check out more insight into how to bet on basketball.
NBA Championship odds FAQs
Who will win the NBA Championship this year?
The LA Lakers, LA Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks were among the preseason favorites to win the NBA Championship. Above, the team with the best odds has the best chance to win the NBA Championship.
How to read NBA Championship odds?
NBA Championship odds above are in American format, meaning a $100 bet at odds of +250 would profit $250 if it wins.
How do NBA Championship odds work?
Oddsmakers at sportsbooks create odds to win the NBA Championship based on the team's implied probability to win the title. The team with the lowest odds has the best chance to win the NBA Championship.