On Thursday, July 30 the NBA will return with the start of an eight-game conclusion to the regular season to finalize the seeding for the playoffs. We discussed each team with notes and standings in our NBA Restart Preview Guide a few weeks ago.
While the new format with a possible play-in round for the #8 spot is alluring, ultimately the positioning changes won’t be of critical importance to most of the contenders. Most teams will simply be looking to stay healthy and get back in sync for a playoff run. That will still mean some great opportunities, particularly for certain underdog situations in games that may only carry meaning on one side.
Once the playoffs begin, it could be wild run of closely contested series. The long layoff and the lack of a home court advantage will certainly penalize the favorites that built great records before the break, and certainly this could be a second straight season with a surprise NBA champion. The NBA playoffs are notoriously chalky but that may not be the case in this unusual shortened season run where every team will be at risk to have juggle its roster in key stretches.
Here are the top contenders and the adjusted NBA title prices, some of which have changed from the numbers in our NBA Restart Preview Guide which was put together several weeks ago:
Los Angeles Lakers (+250): Everyone will be expecting a LA/LA Western Conference Finals but the Lakers are moving forward without Avery Bradley who started 44 games and was a great defensive asset. Rajon Rondo is also likely out until September. Anthony Davis may open up the restart on the shelf along with Dwight Howard, though the Lakers have very little risk of losing the #1 seed in the West.
Milwaukee Bucks (+250): The Bucks are a massive favorite to win the Eastern Conference and almost certainly will be the #1 seed in the playoffs. A franchise and city in a long title drought will have a harder path than they deserved in these circumstances as no team was likely hurt more (in terms of championship probability) than the Bucks. Milwaukee had rested Giannis Antetokounmpo consistently to prepare for this run. Adding to the challenge has been the opportunity for several quality East teams that underachieved to get healthy.
Los Angeles Clippers (+333): The Clippers have pulled a slightly easier schedule than the Lakers in the 8 games to finalize the seeding but 5.5 games is an overwhelming hurdle even if the Clippers take the opener with their rival. This group isn’t a lock to hold on to the #2 seed as Denver or Utah will try to make a run at passing them up. That is of particular importance with Houston lurking as the likely #5 or #6 seed though many seeding scenarios are still in play in the middle of the West playoff standings. The Clippers have roster issues as well with Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrel, and Lou Williams all leaving the team for various situations as this team could be vulnerable.
Given the unusual nature of this playoff season the variance figures to be higher and we’ll be looking to take a shot with some of the sleepers listed deeper in the odds. Be sure to join us for our NBA Restart Package for only $199.
Nelly’s has had three absolutely huge NBA regular seasons in a row, hitting just over 63% in 2017-18, just over 66% in 2018-19, and we were riding a 62.9% record including a 10-1 run before Covid-19 shut down the 2019-20 season. We’ll be well prepared for the resumption of the regular season and the playoff schedule in Orlando expected to span from late July through the Finals in late October (we went 4-1 in the NBA Finals last season).
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