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NBA Championship Betting Odds and the Coronavirus Break

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks vs Los Angeles Lakers - NBA Logo and Trophy

The NBA’s 2019-20 season is currently at a pause due to the coronavirus or the COVID-19.

We all know by now that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus and the NBA immediately announced that it would be suspending the rest of its 2019-20 season, indefinitely and for at least 30 days until such time that it becomes safe for everyone involved. But while we may not be seeing game line odds anytime soon, one NBA futures bet remains in all the major online betting sites. That bet is on which team will win the 2020 NBA title.

Before the season began, the Los Angeles Clippers were the betting favorites to win the NBA title. As the season progressed, the Milwaukee Bucks took that title with the best record in the league. Milwaukee became the fastest team in history to clinch a playoff spot. The Los Angeles Lakers were playing their best basketball of the season when the NBA declared a suspension of games. Because of that, and the Bucks’ struggles right before the cause of action, the Lakers have moved ahead of the Bucks in the latest odds board as of March 15, 2020.

Betting Favorites to Win the 2020 NBA Title

Here are the latest odds to win the 2020 NBA title. These odds were taken from the online betting site as of 03/18/20:

  • Los Angeles Lakers +200
  • Milwaukee Bucks +225
  • Los Angeles Clippers +300
  • Houston Rockets +1500
  • Boston Celtics +1500
  • Toronto Raptors +1600
  • Denver Nuggets +2000
  • Philadelphia 76ers +2800
  • Miami Heat +2800
  • Utah Jazz +3300
  • Dallas Mavericks +3500
  • Indiana Pacers +8K
  • New Orleans Pelicans +10K
  • OKC Thunder +10K
  • Portland Trail Blazers +20K
  • Memphis Grizzlies +50K
  • Brooklyn Nets +50K
  • Orlando Magic +50K
  • San Antonio Spurs +50K

Bucks Get a Much Needed Break

The Milwaukee Bucks are back on top of the odds board even if they lost to the Lakers in their latest head to head showdown which happened less than a week before the suspension of the season. Milwaukee lost four out of their last five games played, including the last three, before play was halted and there was an obvious reason. Giannis Antetokounmpo hurt his knee during their loss to the Lakers and while he had a big game against King James and company, the 2019 NBA MVP missed their game against the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets. Of course, the Bucks lost both games, and by an average margin of 11.5 points per game.

The suspension will benefit the Bucks because not only will they have more than enough time to regroup, 30 days will most probably be more than enough for Antetokounmpo to heal up his minor injury. The Bucks have dominated the season from day one and the Lakers are closing in with Milwaukee just three games up. Had the Lakers not let their guard down against Brooklyn, the race for the top spot in the league would have been much closer. A 30-day pause is going to give Milwaukee a break they desperately needed. If Coach Bud gets them focused again with a healthy Greek Freak, then they could very well finish the season where they started: on top of the team standings.

Lakers’ Momentum Halted

The Los Angeles Lakers were playing their best basketball of the season when the suspension was announced. Although the Purple and Gold lost their last game before the stoppage, the team had won 11 out of their last 13 games played and were coming off a weekend where they beat the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers in succession. LeBron James was averaging 30.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game in his last 10 games played and he was playing like he was already ready for the postseason.

King James scored 37 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and issued 8 assists against the Bucks. He registered 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists against the Clippers. Although he missed the game-tying layup against the Nets, you could see that James was in beast mode with 19 regular-season games left to play. In short, the Lakers were peaking and James was playing his most dominant ball of the year when the season was suspended. You have to think that 30 days is going to hurt the Lakers’ momentum because they were peaking at the right time.

As for James:

He is 35 years old and in his 17th season. You could argue that his body gets a 30-day break too but then don’t forget he will be at least a month older when the season resumes, if ever. We’ve seen too many times in sports how father time steals one’s greatness.

The break came at a time when the Lakers were at their high. The stoppage will certainly hurt their forward momentum.

Rockets and Clippers Need Rest

The L.A. Clippers remain third in the odds board and this is a team that many people were high on before the season began. The Clippers have without a doubt the most talented team in the league and it’s just a matter of them jelling as a unit and Doc Rivers pushing the right buttons. The excuse with this team is that they haven’t played together for a good period of time. They have been fond of load management and obviously, Steve Ballmer’s team is going to benefit from this break as they can keep their stars healthy without breaking a sweat.

Aside from the Bucks re-claiming the top spot, I’m also surprised why the oddsmakers are high on the Houston Rockets. We know that Houston decided to finish the season using small ball. We also know that it didn’t work out well against bigger and more physical teams with Houston losing four out of their last five games. Maybe the oddsmakers believe that a break could re-charge James Harden who was 42.4% from the floor and 32.3% from deep in his last 10 games played. Harden was almost unstoppable at the start of the year and perhaps his workload had started taking its toll on the Beard. With Westbrook playing like a man possessed as of late, a well-rested James Harden could catch fire again, making the Rockets a dangerous team in the playoffs.

Jazz Will Take a Hit

The Utah Jazz are expected to take a tumble if and when the season begins. It can be recalled that the suspension of the 2019-20 NBA season was a result of one of their players testing positive for the COVID-19 disease. We now know that the player is Rudy Gobert, the 2019 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. We also know that only one other teammate was infected by Gobert. It was just unfortunate for the Jazz that the other player is their young superstar Donovan Mitchell. Make no mistake, both are going to recover from the virus but the question is what happens to the team when the season resumes? You can only imagine what every player on that team was experiencing while they were quarantined when they were tested, and how relieved they were ( except Mitchell) when the tests came out negative.

Utah will be 100% physically healthy when the season resumes but what about their mental state? Sure, these are professionals and world-class athletes, but these are also just mortals with families to support. There are rumors that some ( or many ? ) Jazz players are upset with Gobert when he made fun of the disease during his microphone touching incident. I mean that guy could have potentially spread the diseases to his teammates and their families as well. The more intriguing thing is how Mitchell and Gobert are going to play together after this. Mitchell knows he is going to get well but will he harbor ill-feelings towards Gobert who put his life in danger? These questions have caused the Jazz to tumble in the odds board and if you ask me, I wouldn’t bet on them to win the NBA title.

Analysis of Odds

When the season resumes, we start back from square one. If the suspension isn’t too long, then maybe the regular season resumes and the Lakers can catch the Bucks in the team standings. Or maybe the Clippers can catch the Lakers and even the Bucks. Regardless of which of those happens, it’s going to be a more interesting finish if the regular season is continued. However, if the suspension takes much longer than a month, then perhaps the league could just go to the playoff right away or they could shorten the remaining regular season. I know this is a far reality than the previous assumption, but who knows?

Those said I think that the Bucks will benefit most from this pause. But when it comes to winning the NBA title, I will still go with the Lakers. I think that they proved just before the break that they could beat everybody in the league. That to me is telling. Sure, they could struggle when the season resumes but I think that LeBron and AD are ready and they have enough support to go all the way.


Los Angeles Lakers