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VirginiaCavs

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NBA 2024 Championship Odds Update: Minnesota Is Flying Under The Radar

Current NBA Championship Odds per BetOnline (as of February 19)

Boston Celtics +265
Denver Nuggets +475
Los Angeles Clippers +500
Milwaukee Bucks +750
Phoenix Suns +1200
Oklahoma City Thunder +1400
Minnesota Timberwolves +1600
...

Teams That Have Dropped Off

Golden State Warriors

Before the season began, Golden State was favored among the top teams to win the championship.

But now they do not appear to be a candidate at all. The Warriors are now posted at +2500 to win it all.

Their main problem is that they lack scoring depth.

Steph Curry is still Steph Curry. He is a top-caliber sharpshooter who uses his shooting prowess to lead his team with 28 points per game.

However, teammate Klay Thompson is averaging 10.7 fewer points per game than Curry.

He has dropped off in terms of his shooting efficiency and in terms of his overall productivity.

At least as surprising as Thompson's decline is that of Andrew Wiggins, who is scoring almost five fewer points than he did last year.

Los Angeles Lakers

Similar to the Warriors, the Lakers were rated highly by sportsbooks in terms of their ability to win the NBA Championship.

They have, since the beginning of the season, dropped off significantly. Currently, BetOnline has them at +2800 to win it all.

I find it surprising that the Lakers are favored less heavily to win it all than Golden State.

This is because L.A.'s losses seem more excusable. They have suffered from injuries, which have disrupted the construction of their team chemistry.

Currently, they are on a 6-1 run, as they look to build that chemistry by supporting two excellent scorers in LeBron and Anthony Davis. Both scorers, who are also characteristically great defenders, lead their team with just over 24 points per game.


The Favored Teams

Boston Celtics

Before the regular season, Boston was favored to win it all.

The Celtics remain favored by sportsbooks.

First of all, they play good defense. It is tough to make baskets against them at any kind of an efficient rate.

Besides boasting a solid defensive rating, they are capably a high-scoring team.

We know about their array of good three-point shooters – Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, and Sam Hauser are all efficient from deep.

Last year, they sometimes depended too heavily on the three-ball.

But now with Kristaps Porzingis, their center who averages just over 20 points per game, they pose more of a threat from the post, which will complement their ongoing ability from deep.

Denver Nuggets

If Denver did it last year, why can't the Nuggets do it again?

Their roster continuity makes them an automatic threat – their top four scorers this year were also their top four scorers last year.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have, over the course of this season, gained respect from oddsmakers for their ability to win it all.

Despite initial skepticism, it is turning out that the addition of star point guard James Harden was a very. good one.

His creative abilities take tremendous weight off the shoulders of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who are expected to score a lot and to play important roles on defense.

Harden is also a characteristically strong iso scorer. His success in iso is easily maximized by the attention that defenses must devote to PG and Kawhi.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks traded defense for offense when they let go of Jrue Holiday and acquired star point guard Damian Lillard.

It will be interesting to see whether this sort of exchange produces an overall gain for their team.

Their defense has indeed declined, but they are currently also scoring the second-most points per game.

Phoenix Suns

Whereas Milwaukee has Lillard and Giannis, Phoenix has Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. The Suns also boast Bradley Beal.

While these players lack the defensive aptitude that a guy like perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Giannis has for Milwaukee, Frank Vogel is their head coach, and he is known to be a defensive genius. In terms of defense, Vogel will get the most out of his players.

Takeaways

I just don't see there being any value in Boston.

There are too many good teams in the East – Milwaukee with its scoring prowess is a prominent example – and the West is too strong to justify investing in the Celtics at this price.

At the same time, I don't like Denver, just because it is difficult to win back-to-back champions.

I also eliminate the Suns, Bucks, and Clippers from consideration because of their defensive weakness.

All three teams rank well outside the top ten in defensive rating.

I didn't mention the Thunder, because it's just ridiculous to give them a chance in the playoffs.

This team really has made an impressive turnaround to become one of the NBA's better teams.

But they're going to have to suffer disappointment in the playoffs before they gain the playoff experience that they'll need just to make it to the NBA Finals.

Minnesota Timberwolves

I like Minnesota because it has what it takes to win it all, and yet oddsmakers refuse to respect them, which entails that there is awesome betting value in this selection.

The Timberwolves have the necessary playoff experience – adding Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert only helped them in this respect.

They play defense – led by well-reputed rim protector Gobert and other strong defenders, they rank number one in defensive rating.

Complementing the iso scoring ability of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, Conley is one of a number of catch-and-shoot threats in an offense that is learning how to thrive and is currently sizzling.

Minnesota has perceived its need to be more movement-oriented and purposeful in its offensive attack. Its problems earlier in the season are proving to be easily fixable. They've scored over 120 points in each of their last five games.

Best Bet: Minnesota Timberwolves at +1600 with BetOnline
 
If Minnesota is flying under the radar then Cleveland must be wearing an invisibility cloak.
 
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