Just one NBA team-the Boston Celtics-is on pace to win at least 60 games. It’s a very muddled picture behind them, nightly headaches a given to those who betting online.
With that in mind, here’s a weekly stab at the hottest and coldest teams in the NBA, complete with plenty of information you can use to guide your sports bets.
While injuries have hit the Eastern Conference champs as much as anyone else, it wasn’t until Sunday that their MVP candidate, Jayson Tatum, did not play. The end result? Just a 130-point effort in a win over the Washington Wizards.
Indeed, the Celtics have managed to seamlessly fill holes, all the while building the depth that’s the envy of the league. Boston’s reserves are hitting beyond the arc at a ridiculous 44.6% clip, best in the NBA by more than six percentage points entering Monday’s action.
Against Washington, three understudies had at least a dozen points, helping to support a 36-point effort by Jaylen Brown in a game the Celtics led by as many as 26. They’re without a real weakness currently, proving they can run and hide even without Tatum.
“There’s going to be guys in, guys out,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be able to maintain our level of play when our big dog is not in the rotation. It was fun. It challenges everybody to step up in their roles.”
Many an NBA betting expert is on board, with Boston the favorite to win the title. The Celtics’ championship odds dropped over the past week to a +450.
- +450 NBA Championship Odds
Milwaukee trails the Celtics a second straight week, despite the Bucks winning consecutive games (first time since a 9-0 start). Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 30 points, Milwaukee whipped the Dallas Mavericks, 124-115, to finish a 3-1 homestand.
Obviously, when Giannis gets some help, Milwaukee is a powerhouse. Against the Mavs, Grayson Allen hit his first seven 3-pointers in Bucks’ 73-point first half. Allen tied an NBA record (made 3’s without a miss over the last 25 seasons).
Milwaukee improved 7-1 when Allen hits at least five 3-pointers in a game. He’s just one of many Bucks who can hurt you after Giannis. Another, Khris Middleton, has not made his debut.
The team has played a lot of home games to date, so a road-heavy stretch is on the horizon. It will be interesting to see how it responds.
- +600 NBA Championship Odds
Scoop on Free Play from the Locker Room
Top of a crowded Western Conference (10 teams were separated by 3½ games entering Monday) after a 4-0 homestand, capped by a hard-fought one-point win over the Utah Jazz.
Even without leader Chris Paul, who has now missed nine consecutive games with an injured heel, Phoenix is thriving. They don’t have to rush the return of Paul, and the rest of the crew is also better served having learned to play-and win-without him.
Paul misses a 10th straight game Monday night in Sacramento, providing another challenge.
- +900 NBA Championship Odds
We love the Nuggets as a slightly under-the-radar pick to win it all, evidenced by road wins at Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Nuggets are just 12-7 entering Monday’s play, but had to endure COVID-related absences of two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and point guard Jamal Murray, as well as a handful of injured players. Also, they’ve played a heavy load of road games.
Starting Monday, Denver plays 20 of its next 28 in the Mile High City. Expect the Nuggets to threaten Phoenix and that top spot in the West.
- +1800 NBA Championship Odds
While the Golden State Warriors are charging fast and wanting to return to the land of the elite, we will keep Cleveland around for now after the Cavaliers won five of their last six.
With Only Boston and Denver shooting better at long range than Cleveland’s 39.1%. The other end of the floor finds the Cavs increasing their intensity. They’ve held three of their last five opponents under 100 points, now second in the East in scoring defense (107.4 points/game).
Cleveland’s been hit hard by injuries too. However, a solid team defense mentality extending to the end of the bench has been mightier than a shorthanded roster, and so far it’s helped the Cavaliers survive a handful of issues.
- +1600 NBA Championship Odds
We’ve been predicting better days ahead with the Hornets over the past couple of weeks, and we might be seeing some signs. They are carrying their first winning streak of the season.
However, injuries continue to plague Charlotte, as Gordon Hayward is back on the sidelines with a shoulder fracture that has caused a bit of controversy. And LaMelo Ball is probably twisting his ankle somewhere at this very moment.
Whether this team can overcome the onslaught of injuries is questionable. A Monday visit to Boston is a massive test.
- +25000 NBA Championship Odds
The team’s recent win over the Atlanta Hawks showed the Rockets might be turning a corner, and not only because they came out on the right side of the scoreboard.
Trae Young and Dejounte Murray were torching the Rockets, showboating like crazy along the way. Youthful Houston took exception to their antics, stepped in the face of both guards with a third-quarter skirmish before rallying in front of a boisterous home crowd to steal the win.
There was a win over Oklahoma City the next night, first set of consecutive wins this season.
- +100000 NBA Championship Odds
Four losses in a row-Indiana and Philadelphia twice each-have stymied the Magic just as they were beginning to play a bit better.
Playing at home against a 76er team missing its top three players Saturday night, Orlando was dominated right at the outset. Philadelphia shot 64.9%, scoring at least 30 points in each quarter en route to a 133-103 win over an embarrassed Magic.
Orlando’s recent 5-6 stretch which included wins over Phoenix, Dallas and Golden State may have just been fool’s gold.
- +100000 NBA Championship Odds
After a 5-2 start, there was something cooking with Gregg Popovich and his squad in San Antonio. Coach Pop is trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding now, amid one of the worst stretches of basketball the franchise has ever seen.
The Spurs’ eight-game slide is fourth-longest (tied) in team history, and the longest since the 1988-89 edition went 21-61. David Robinson debuted the next season, and the rest is history. However, neither he nor Tim Duncan are walking through that door.
Opponents are scoring an average of 124.8 points during the swoon at the Alamo.
- +50000 NBA Championship Odds
Regarding injuries, the Pistons played Sunday (against Cleveland) without four of their five starters. They were actually in it until a rough fourth quarter, and did score some big road wins of late. This is a unit that figures to climb out of the hole soon.
We will keep the team with the worst record in the game at the bottom of our list.
- +100000 NBA Championship Odds