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NBA Futures Betting – Championship Rundown

5-14-09

As we approach the conclusion of the Conference Semi-Finals, it’s time to take another look at the NBA Championship futures here at BetUS. I’ll separate the contenders from the pretenders and find out where the real value is for NBA bettors.

Cleveland Cavaliers                       Odds to Win Title: -130

There’s no doubt that the Cavs have been the class of the field so far this playoffs. They’ve swept their first two rounds, winning each and every game by double figures. LeBron has shown everyone just how easy a pick he was for league MVP. He’s averaging 32.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. The only real question mark here is how they’ll respond when they have to face a team that at least has a fighting chance. However, judging by the struggles both the Celtics and Magic have endured, it seems like that won’t come until the Finals.

Los Angeles Lakers                         Odds to Win Title: +110

Going into the postseason everyone was expecting a Lakers/Cavs, Kobe/LeBron finals. The Cavs have certainly done their part, but the Lakers have looked very beatable. They’ve been helped by the injury to Yao Ming and they’ll get past the Rockets, but they’ve got a legitimate NBA Championship contender looming in the Conference Finals, the Denver Nuggets. Aside from a lack of focus and defensive tenacity, the Lakers have been hurt by the non-presence of Andrew Bynum. He’s averaging 5.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. In other words, he’s giving the Lakers nada. He finally had a good showing in Game 5, scoring 14 and adding 6 rebounds, and Lakers fans and backers better hope that the trend continues. The Lakers have a good shot to win the title, but with tough matchups coming against the Nuggets and Cavs, I’d lay off them at +110.

Denver Nuggets                               Odds to Win Title: +850

The Nuggets are starting to look like the team to beat in the West. They took down the Hornets in 5, and just barely missed a sweep against the Mavs. Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony can both light it up, and they play some very respectable D as well. In the frontcourt, the threesome of Nene, Birdman and Kenyon Martin are athletic, explosive and rugged. They can score, they can rebound, they can defend, and there’s three of them. The Nuggets do lack some depth beyond reserve guard J.R. Smith, but barring injury, it shouldn’t hurt them. The Nuggets play extremely aggressive D, and it will take a team with a lot of poise to knock them off. The books are just not giving this team enough respect, lots of value at +850.

Boston Celtics                                  Odds to Win Title: +1600

When it comes down to it, this team is just not a legit contender without Garnett. The Bulls took them to 7, and they’ve been lucky to take a 3-2 lead against the Magic, who have played fourth quarters like they’re trying to lose. Boston absolutely depends on big contributions from Davis, Scalabrine, Marbury and House. Those guys just aren’t going to get it done against the Clevelands and LAs of the world. Their run has been impressive, and they’re well-coached and play with a lot of passion, but they will not progress to the NBA Finals, never mind repeating for the title.

Orlando Magic                                 Odds to Win Title: +3500

The Magic have the talent, they have good matchups against the Cavs, but they clearly lack the poise and execution down the stretch to be considered a contender. The blown leads, the dissension between coach and star player, the lack of commitment to defense on each and every play, it doesn’t look good for the Magic, my dark horse pick for the title when the postseason began. Plus, they’re down 3-2 with another road game, and if you can’t win games up 14 in the 4th quarter, just when do you expect to win them?

Houston Rockets                                        Odds to Win Title: +8000

I like this team. I like their attitude, their intelligence, their commitment to defense on every play. Unfortunately, they have no superstars that can walk, and their best remaining scorer should be a defensive stopper that takes maybe 7-10 shots per game at most (Ron Artest). They’re also playing the Lakers and just got beat by 40. Even if they can deliver in Game 6, they’re not winning another game in LA. It’s too bad for a hard luck team that deserves better, but as a caricature of an old man might say, “Them’s the breaks, kid.”

Dallas Mavericks                                        Odds To Win Title: +20000

They Mavs are getting 200-1 for good reason. They’re down 3-1 and quite clearly overmatched by the Nuggets. They’d have little chance against the Lakers in the Conference Finals, and even less against the Cavs in the Finals. But how little is little and how less is less? I mean they’re 200 to friggin' 1! I would bet on my rec league team at 200-1. And Dirk is certainly not on my rec league team, although it would be uber-sweet if he was.

Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers -130

Top Pick: Denver Nuggets +850

Why The Hell Not Pick: Dallas Mavericks +20000

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