There’s just one undefeated team in the NBA entering Monday and that would be the Milwaukee Bucks. We could go many different ways after that as we take our weekly stab at our top five and bottom five teams in the league. Follow along if you need some help with a bet online.
With the Detroit Pistons coming to town for a Halloween night matchup, the Bucks have a great chance to open 6-0 for the first time since 2018. They stayed perfect with a 123-115 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, with both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday recording 34 points.
Giannis is second in the league in scoring (34.6) and rebounding (14.0), and Holiday is eighth in assists (8.0) for this well-oiled machine. Where the Bucks really make their hay is on the defensive end, giving up an NBA-low 103.0 points per game.
Opponents also shoot an NBA-low 41.9% from the field. A shift in philosophy that has defenders staying home on shooters has funneled loads of action at veteran big man Brook Lopez, and he’s responded with a league-leading 19 blocked shots (through Sunday).
It all makes for a potent winning formula, and Milwaukee is doing this shorthanded. Once Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton return, the attack becomes that much more formidable.
- +700 NBA Championship Odds
The team the Bucks defeated in the 2021 NBA Finals looks like an early favorite to get there once again. The best-shooting team in the league (49.3%) has won four in a row while averaging 123.5 points to race to the top of the Western Conference (tied with Portland).
The most notable result of the four-game surge was a 29-point rout of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, who had no answer on the defensive end for a Suns unit that produced 105 points through the first three quarters.
Phoenix will be tested this week with star center Deandre Ayton (ankle) on the sidelines and Minnesota and Portland coming to town. With Devin Booker (29.3 points per game) doing his thing, we expect the Suns to remain the class of the West.
- +1000 NBA Championship Odds
They righted the ship after back-to-back losses at Chicago and at home to Cleveland (more on them in a moment) in overtime. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for 47 points in a 112-94 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.
What’s notable about that result is what the Celtics did on the defensive end. Amid a 3-2 start, opponents shot a healthy 48.5%, a rather stunning number considering Boston led the NBA in that category last season (43.4). But the Wizards were stymied from the start, scoring just 15 points in the first quarter and shooting 38.8% overall.
That should get Boston back on track, and the sky’s the limit once this team begins to dominate on defense.
A rematch with the Cavaliers on the road is looming.
- +600 NBA Championship Odds
It’s been a slow, steady climb from the post-LeBron hangover, but this was a 44-win team a season ago and Cleveland seems ready to make a big improvement off of that with Donovan Mitchell in the fold.
Mitchell is off to a superb start, averaging 32.2 points and 7.3 assists for a team that carries a five-game winning streak into Monday’s action. Six other players average at least 10 points for the NBA’s best 3-point shooting unit (42.7%).
Mitchell, Dean Wade and Kevin Love combined to make 22 3-pointers in Sunday’s win over the New York Knicks, propelling Cleveland from a nine-point deficit with a blistering fourth quarter.
Love has seen some things – including one NBA title – in his nine seasons in Cleveland, and he’s seeing something special early on.
“This team never loses its fight,” Love said Sunday. “Sometimes, you have to win ugly and we did that tonight. Donovan was finding guys out there, I was finding guys out there, Dean made big shots, and we just got rolling. It’s amazing playing with these guys.”
And if you don’t believe in Love, maybe you can listen to The Miz.
- +2500 NBA Championship Odds
5. Trail Blazers
This could be a one-and-done appearance if Damian Lillard’s injury has a big effect on them, but the Blazers did win their first full game since the superstar guard was sidelined with a calf injury.
Anfernee Simons, who will shoulder the scoring load with Lillard out, had 30 points in Friday’s 125-111 win over the Houston Rockets. Jusuf Nurkic added 27 and 15 rebounds for a team that shot 53.3% with one of the league’s top scorers on the sidelines.
A home game against Memphis on Wednesday precedes a brutal six-game road trip that includes two at Phoenix and visits to Miami and Dallas. That could rock the Blazers out of the top five, but they deserve an appearance based on an impressive start.
- +10000 NBA Championship Odds
The Los Angeles Lakers were in this spot last week and would be a worthy entrant once again, but everyone’s picking on them so we’ll give them a break on the heels of their first win of the season.
Instead, let’s look at what the Pistons have been doing. Sure, they just trounced the defending champs, but the defending champs suddenly look very trounce-worthy. They can’t stop anyone on the defensive end, and the Pistons took advantage with Sunday’s 128-114 win.
Prior to that, it was a slog for Detroit, which suffered through a five-game losing streak in which it gave up an average of 125.6 points.
Young standouts Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart combined with a red-hot start for veteran Bojan Bogdanovic make for an intriguing mix in Motown. We’ll see if it’s enough to get them out of the bottom five. Those looking at the Las Vegas odds will still find them near the bottom of the rankings.
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Like the Pistons, the Kings have the talent to shoot from the bottom five and make a run at respectability this season. They showed it Friday night with their first win of the season, a 119-113 triumph over Miami. Also, consider that their four straight losses to start the season came by an average of just over seven points and it included a string of quality opponents.
But there are areas that need improvement. Opponents are making 41.0 percent of their 3-point tries and Sacramento forces just 12 turnovers per game, tied for the second-fewest in the league.
Let’s see how the Kings handle a four-game road trip beginning Monday night in Charlotte.
- +50000 NBA Championship Odds
They still have the third-best championship odds on the board, but any NBA betting expert will tell you that’s a fishy number given how this team has looked so far.
Nobody allows more points per game than the Nets (122.2), and their ability to defend the 3 has been abysmal. Both the Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers shot exactly 50 percent from long range in back-to-back home losses for Brooklyn to end last week, with the Pacers making a franchise-record 23 of 46 in a loss that head coach Steve Nash called a “disaster.”
“We’ve got to look deep, deep inside ourselves and what we want to do, what we want to accomplish,” Nash said. “Do we want to give up on this because it’s been difficult early, or do we want to stay the course and start to build something?”
Kyrie Irving is putting up tremendous numbers but already stirring things up off the court. Now in its third season, his pairing with Kevin Durant isn’t yielding anything but gaudy stats and drama. It’ll be interesting to see how this team responds to Nash’s words.
- +850 NBA Championship Odds
The Magic broke into the win column with a 20-point victory over Charlotte and then gave Dallas a test on the road before falling 114-105 on Sunday. Perhaps that’s a sign of some improvement.
This team has been crushed by injuries, particularly in the backcourt. That’s the primary reason that Orlando is one of two teams averaging fewer than 20 assists per game and ranks last in the East in 3-point shooting (30.5%).
Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac are all sidelined with various ailments. Once a few of them return, rookie standout Paolo Banchero (22.7 points per game) will have more help and this team could start to rise. Additionally, to check out more specific information about the NBA props available for the Trail Blazers vs Hawks matchup.
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Entering Monday, no team had a wider average point differential than the Rockets (-9.7), who are 0-3 thus far on a challenging road trip. They’ve been leapfrogged by the Lakers in the team shooting department, now ranking 30th at 42.2%. And opponents are on the extreme opposite end, shooting an NBA-high 49.7%.
That’s not a recipe for success, and it’ll be hard to come by in Houston this season.
- +100000 NBA Championship Odds