Like other sports leagues, the NBA has felt the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With just over a month left in the 2019-20 regular season, the NBA announced on March 11 it would be suspending play.
The NBA is now set to resume its season in late July, however. Twenty-two teams will take part in a mini-regular season that will feature each team playing eight games. The playoffs will then follow.
Below are the odds for NBA Finals winners for the 2019-20 season.
NBA futures odds 2020
NBA futures report: June 2020
NBA Championship favorites
Milwaukee Bucks (+250 at DraftKings Sportsbook): The Bucks are favored with +240 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, but are even with the Lakers at +250 according to DK. The Eastern Conference is strong at the top, but there’s no denying that the bottom 4 seeds are weaker than in the WCF, giving the Bucks a clearer path to the finals. Milwaukee has been historically dominant this year with a league-best 16.7 net rating and the best offensive and defensive rating. They opened the season with +550 odds to win the title and have risen to the top after an incredible regular season.
Los Angeles Lakers (+250): While they play in a tougher conference, the Lakers have a clear nod over the Bucks in terms of playoff experience. Namely, they have LeBron James, who went to 8 straight NBA Finals while with the Cavs and Heat. Before the season was suspended, the Lakers had won 11 of their last 13 games with signature wins over the Bucks and Clippers on March 6 and 8. Their odds are up from opening at +450 this year and could ride a well-rested James to the finals.
Los Angeles Clippers (+333): The Clippers opened the season as the favorite to win the championship, but have had players in and out of the lineup all year due to injuries and load management strategies. After over 3 months off, the Clips should be completely rested and ready for a playoff push, there’s just a question of whether they will find their chemistry over the course of 8 regular season games. It’s critical to note that if the Clippers and Lakers meet in the WCF finals as many have expected since the offseason, crowd noise will not be a factor since they won’t play in a Staples Center that is usually skewed towards the Purple and Gold.
NBA championship contenders
Houston Rockets (+1300): The Rockets small-ball experiment had just gotten underway when the season was called off and they would have had plenty of time to work out the kinks in their innovative strategy. Perhaps more vitally, overworked guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook will have plenty of rest before resuming their huge workloads. Matchups are critical for the Rockets since they have no true center and could struggle to contain versatile bigs such as Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic.
Boston Celtics (+2200): With Kemba Walker nursing a knee injury, Jayson Tatum hit another stratosphere in terms of his progression towards becoming a superstar. If the newly dominant Tatum can co-exist with Walker – and assuming Walker is healthy – the Celtics could be a very tough out in the ECF. They’re deep, tough, and have a savvy coach in Brad Stevens.
Toronto Raptors (+2200): The defending champions may be without Kawhi Leonard, but they’re still one of the teams best positioned to take down Giannis and the Bucks. Toronto ranks second in defensive rating and first in PPG allowed (106.5) this year. They opened the season with massive +5500 odds to win the title and seem to have proved all the doubters wrong by playing just as well this season with Leonard gone.
NBA Western Conference winner favorites
Los Angeles Lakers (+160 to win the West): The race for the WCF crown is expected to occur between crosstown rivals. The Lakers are narrowly ahead of the Clippers according to odds at DK Sportsbook and could be on a collision course to face off in the WCF finals at a neutral site in Orlando.
Los Angeles Clippers (+180): After defeating the Lakers in their first two meetings this year, the Clippers fell, 112-103, to the Lakers on March 8. Kawhi Leonard looked a bit gassed when the season was called off, but he always seems to show up in the playoffs and is one of the few on-ball defenders capable of slowing down LeBron James. As mentioned above, the Clippers have been nearly unstoppable when they have their full complement of players and they should be on equal footing after a lengthy break.
NBA Western Conference winner contenders
Houston Rockets (+700): The Rockets have an innovative strategy that proved capable of catching teams off guard during the regular season. Yet it’s very difficult to back Houston in a best-of-seven series, where a lack of size can be exploited time and time again with ample time to adjust between games.
Denver Nuggets (+1200): The Nuggets came extremely close to a WCF finals appearance last year and would have almost certainly given the Warriors a closer run than the Blazers had they advanced. They’ve looked much worse this year and Nikola Jokic hasn’t been as dominant, but perhaps he’s used the time off to catch his breath and get into better shape. Keep an eye on how the Nuggets look over their final 8 regular season games. Note that they’ve historically struggled against the Rockets in case that is the 3-6 matchup in the first round.
Utah Jazz (+1400): No team was more mercurial this season than the Jazz. Utah was red hot in the middle of the season, but struggled badly when the schedule ramped up. Donovan Mitchell is still inexperienced as a leader and the Jazz haven’t been as good defensively this year.
NBA Eastern Conference winner favorites
Milwaukee Bucks (-165 to win the East): The Bucks are huge favorites to win their conference and take on the WCF winner in the finals. That partially explains why their odds are even with the Lakers, even though the Lakers would likely be favored in a series if they meet the Bucks in the finals. Milwaukee has been historically good on both sides of the ball this year and seemed to be on a path towards the finals last year before Kawhi Leonard stopped Giannis and sent the Bucks packing.
NBA Eastern Conference winner contenders
Toronto Raptors (+700): While they don’t have Kawhi anymore, the Raptors have length, toughness, and a great coach capable of crafting schemes to slow down Giannis. They might have trouble getting past the Celtics, 76ers, or Heat in the early rounds, but have an outside chance to give the Bucks trouble in a potential ECF finals matchup.
Boston Celtics (+700): The Celtics are comparable to the Jazz in the sense that they’ve been up-and-down all year. If Kemba Walker is healthy and Jayson Tatum is able to resume his elite level of play, this young team could be very difficult to beat in the playoffs. However, Boston’s home court advantage was one of the best in the NBA and the young Celtics won’t be able to feed off their crowd.
Philadelphia 76ers (+900): Speaking of home court advantage, the Sixers were a pathetic 10-24 on the road compared to 21-2 at home this season. Their clear lack of team chemistry makes it seem unlikely they worked hard during this break, but this team is certainly talented enough to make a surprising run for the ECF crown.
Miami Heat (+900): The Heat went 27-5 at home this season and may also struggle at a neutral site, although they will be closer to home than the rest of the ECF contenders. Miami is a very inexperienced team outside of Jimmy Butler and will only go as far as he can take them.
ALSO READ: NBA Power Rankings 2020
How the 2020 NBA playoffs will work
The NBA regular season usually lasts 82 games, but the 2019-2020 season will be quite different due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After a hiatus of three-plus months, the NBA will invite 22 teams to a contained campus at Orlando’s Disney World, where they will finish out the regular season with eight more games to determine playoff seeding. Most teams had played 60-65 games when the season was halted on March 11. Players and essential personnel will be tested consistently for COVID-19 and will likely be quarantined for 14 days if they test positive at any point.
If the 9th seed in each conference is within four games in the standings when those eight games are over, they will have a chance to play their way into the playoffs by beating the 8th seed twice in a row. The 8th seed would have to win one of those games to advance.
Despite the delay, the NBA still plans to run best-of-seven series formats for the quarterfinal, semifinal and finals in both the Eastern and Western Conference. The final team standing from each conference will meet in the NBA Finals, which will conclude no later than Oct. 12. The NBA Draft will follow on Oct. 15, and the draft lottery will be held on Aug. 25 this year.
Since all games will be held at Disney World, there will be no tangible home court advantage for higher seeds. There is preliminary discussion about altering the rules to give the higher seed an advantage, but they will likely only have the advantage of flying in their logo and home floor for a small psychological lift.
Now that the format has been determined and approved by the board of governors, bettors can place wagers on a variety of playoff-related outcomes.
NBA futures betting 101
NBA futures bets function like futures bets in other sports. They’re typically based on an end-of-season outcome. Futures bets are usually made available on both the team- and player-level.
Prior to the start of a season, team-level futures could include a wager on the minimum number of wins a team will win in that season or whether a team will win its division or conference.
Player-level futures include whether a player will win the MVP, Rookie of the Year or Sixth Man of the Year awards, for example. Other player-level futures are based on whether a player will reach certain benchmarks in common statistical categories such as points, 3-point shots, rebounds or assists for the season.
Due to the shortened season, best on Win Totals and division winners will be rendered null and void with the investment going back to bettors.
Where do I find futures bets in an online sportsbook?
In an online sportsbook, available futures wagers are typically found under their own tab as a subcategory of wagers available for a particular sport. Like the odds for other bet types, futures bets are typically labeled with a number that has a “plus” or “minus” sign next to it.
In the case of futures bets, a “minus” sign would be placed next to a team or player that has a higher probability of reaching the statistical goal. Teams or players with a “plus” sign are considered by oddsmakers to have a lesser chance of reaching that goal. The higher the number next to the plus sign signifies the lower the probability the team or player achieves it.
For example, the Golden State Warriors entered the 2018-19 season as the overwhelming favorites to win a third consecutive championship and when the playoffs began they were listed as “-210” in terms of their odds of winning the title outright. That signifies that a bettor would have to wager $210 to win $100 if the Warriors did indeed win it all.
It’s also important to note that futures odds for both players and teams can certainly fluctuate throughout the course of a season. Odds have fluctuated due to the long break during the first months of the pandemic, so check out our table for a full look at odds.
Not only are we dealing with the possibility of potential season-ending injuries this season, we could also see teams lose vital players if they test positive for COVID-19 at any point. Imagine if LeBron James tested positive in the first round of the playoffs. The Lakers odds to win the title would drop precipitously since he would likely have to sit out for 14 days.
In such an instance, bettors may have seen the Lakers futures odds go from +270 to +600, for example. That means that a bettor still wishing to place a wager on the Lakers to win at that point could instead win $600 for every $100 bet, rather than cashing $270 on that potential winning ticket.
Best NBA betting sites
Common questions regarding wagering on the NBA Finals
Where can I bet on the NBA Finals in the US?
Bettors can currently bet on the NBA Finals in the US at a regulated sportsbook in one of the following states:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Who is the favorite to win the NBA Championship in 2020?
Once the plan to resume the NBA season was officially approved on June 4, the Milwaukee Bucks were installed as a slight favorite to win the 2020 NBA Championship with +240 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The Los Angeles Lakers (+270) and Los Angeles Clippers (+340) follow closely behind the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
When does the 2019-20 NBA season start?
The regular season began in October 2019. The 2020-21 NBA season is expected to start around Dec. 1 due to the delays this spring.
When do the NBA Finals start?
The 2020 NBA Finals are expected to begin in early October and end by Oct. 12. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA Finals typically began and ended in the month of June.
Where can I get NBA betting tips?
Start with our own 6-part NBA betting series right here:
PlayPicks.com is also a valuable resource for bettors of all levels. Throughout the NBA season, PlayPicks.com will feature articles with a sports betting breakdown of select games, including a suggested lean or pick on the game’s point spread, moneyline and/or the projected total. Additionally, new bettors can find rewarding offers and bonuses exclusive to PlayPicks.com readers that are also first-time depositors.