Tipoff Tips for the NBA Season

The 2020-21 NBA season will start Tuesday, December 22, an abbreviated 72-game season that will conclude with the NBA Finals next June. Here are some considerations for the tipoff:

  1. Early birds catch value. Bet early for the best odds in selecting a season-long champion. Much of the early money throughout major sportsbooks went on the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and the revamped Brooklyn Nets. When action begins to trickle in on some other teams, the odds will change.
  2. NBA champs are improved. The Lakers are justifiably favored to repeat. They added reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, along with veterans Marc Gasol, Dennis Schroder and Wes Mathews. They are, on paper, better than when they defeated the Miami Heat for the NBA championship.

Here are the NBA Championship favorites, according to sportsbook William Hill:

Los Angeles Lakers +300
Brooklyn Nets +500
Milwaukee Bucks +550
L.A. Clippers +550
Boston Celtics +1200
Miami Heat +1600
Toronto Raptors +2000
Dallas Mavericks +2200
Denver Nuggets +2200
Philadelphia 76ers +2500

  1. The Nets may be overbet. Superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are part of a team that went 35-37 last year. The Nets signed Durant in the summer of 2019, knowing he would miss at least a season. Brooklyn essentially ate that season and now sports two stars it did not have last year. But the Nets were 75-1 long shots to win the championship according to most sportsbooks prior to the NBA restart over the summer. Can two players make that much of a difference now, making them the second most favored team to win a title? We’ll see. In any case, the Nets will be interesting to watch.
  2. Expect home teams to do well. They will win most of the time. That’s important regarding teams of relatively equal value. A strong team will still beat an inferior one on the road but, generally speaking, home is where the NBA betting heart is. Keep that in mind regarding the chameleonic Philadelphia 76ers.
  3. Sixers retooled. Philadelphia picked up two second-tier players from the Lakers, Danny Green and Dwight Howard. The Sixers also traded Al Horford, who didn’t blend well with Joel Embiid up front. Philadelphia relied on tall players to hit three pointers and it was a feast-or-famine scenario. Green will give Philadelphia a reliable three-point shooter and a reasonably-good offensive guard to balance the offense. Philadelphia was the league’s most puzzling team last year. It was the best home team, 29-2, and one of the league’s worst road teams. We’ll see if that culture improves on the road, but Philly remains a good moneyline home bet.

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William Hill recently released its 2020-21 NBA win totals for all 30 teams. The biggest potential splash this offseason could be the Houston Rockets (36) trading away James Harden. The Nets have been rumored as a potential destination, however would a trio of Harden, Durant and Irving be enough for the Nets (46) to have the highest win total?

“I don’t think the Nets would be highest if they got Harden, but it’d be close,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US. “They’re already getting bet strongly for title futures. There are people anticipating that they’re going to get Harden, that’s for sure. So I think they’d be near the Milwaukee Bucks, but wouldn’t surpass them.”

The Bucks lead the way with a win total of 51. The defending champion Lakers are next at 47.5, followed by their two main rivals in the LA Clippers at 47 and the Boston Celtics at 46.5.

Some other notable win totals include the runner-up Miami Heat at 44.5, the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors at 42.5 and the Golden State Warriors at 37.5. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the lowest win total of any team at 22, with the Detroit Pistons (22.5) and New York Knicks (23.5) nearby.

There’s also been early notable action and odds shifts on some teams’ win totals.

“We had a few bets on that (Oklahoma City Thunder) under, but obviously they were betting it because of the trades,” Bogdanovich said. “That’s the biggest win total move so far, it’s dropped by so much. The OKC under and the Atlanta Hawks over are the two with the most action so far.”

The Thunder opened at 31.5, however after dealing away Chris Paul and Steven Adams, they’ve dropped by seven to 24.5. Other teams whose win totals have had major shifts include the Hawks (31.5 to 35.5), Portland Trail Blazers (38.5 to 40.5) and 76ers (43 to 44.5).

Oklahoma City has also drawn the two largest 2020-21 NBA win total wagers thus far at William Hill. One Nevada bettor placed $2,200 on Thunder under 31 wins (-110) for a total potential payout of $4,200, while another Nevada bettor put down $2,200 on Thunder under 30 wins (-110) for another total potential payout of $4,200.

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