Can any team surprise at the restart of the season in the NBA?
The NBA is heading for the most atypical ending in its history. The coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the competition on March 11 and it will not be until next July 30 that official matches will resume. With such a long period of inactivity, forecasts are perhaps more complicated than in the past. As we will see below, the bets in new online casinos of Las Vegas continue to place the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers in the top 3 for the ring. However, there are issues that will only be known once the games begin. Will any stars be in worse shape than when they stopped? Have any teams regained strength to the point of being able to dominate their conference? And all this without counting the possible cases of positive or injuries that may appear.
This side of the US coast all seem to be opting for the same team to reach the Finals: Milwaukee Bucks. Not only do the Wisconsin side hold on to most of last year's block, but they also have a Giannis Antetokounmpo who is even better than when he was named MVP. The Greek went to the break of the season averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The big doubt with him is if at the physical level he will be at full capacity, and that is that after the first practices in the Orlando bubble he has assured that he has been fatal. Does this open the door to other teams? Maybe.
Beyond the clear favorite, no one dares to rule out other teams like Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors or Philadelphia 76ers, for various reasons. The former include Jayson Tatum, a huge player who has shown on several occasions that he is ready to lead a winning team. In addition, the Greens have a spirit on the field that few teams can match at the competitive level; something that pushes them to have the fourth best defense in the NBA allowing only 106.9 points per 100 possessions. But if there's one thing the Celtics stand out for, it's offense, as they're the best in the East-tied with Milwaukee-with 112.3 points per 100 possessions.
Is it more unexpected that Sixers or Raptors take the cat out of the bag? Perhaps. The former have two fantastic players like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but during the season they have shown themselves to be a team whose reliability plummets away from their court. The point is that in these unusual playoffs there will be no locals or visitors, so this could work in their favour. The reigning champions have made it clear that they are much more than Kawhi Leonard, who led them to their first-ever ring but whose departure has not made them sink any lower. With a growing Pascal Siakam and a block whose strength has been proven, they could be a force to be reckoned with for the Bucks. Moreover, they have been training together since 22 June, some two weeks before the rest.
Closing the pool of candidates, we can't leave Miami Heat unnamed. Much has been said about it being a project in full growth that is missing pieces, but the reality, the one that marks the track, indicates that discarding them would be a big mistake. We are not going to discover now the intensity of Jimmy Butler on the track, who in addition arrives accompanied by a Bam Adebayo that already is All-Star. And as if that weren't enough, he plays close to home, in the neighboring city of Orlando.
Lakers and Clippers. Clippers and Lakers. Any analysis, either now or last October, seems to lead to the two teams playing in the Western Finals. However, the peculiar circumstances surrounding this Disney World Finals campaign make us believe that not only can others surprise us, but that they feel the same way.
Denver with a finer Nikola Jokic than ever before. Houston with two MVPs together as James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Even Dallas Mavericks with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, who arrive in physical prime at the bubble. They all have a legitimate chance of making it to the Finals. Even if the Californians were a step ahead of everyone when the competition was suspended, what will start on June 30 is a new tournament; a sprint one in which if a team is one point ahead of the rest they can take the cat out of the bag. And of course, we're talking about teams that are not without talent at all.
And we're saving Dallas for last because they're perhaps the most brilliant team of all. Led by an outstanding Luka Doncic, Texas is the best offense in the league with 115.8 points scored per 100 possessions. Just before the suspension, there were doubts with them as physical problems began to take their toll on the Slovenian base. Now, with four months to recover, their innate talent may make them stand out against other boys whose game depends more on their physique.
Las Vegas Forecast
If there's one place that sets the pace for gambling, it's Las Vegas. Located in the middle of the desert, this city seems to agree with us that Lakers, Bucks and Clippers are ahead of the rest. Unlike what they were aiming for a year ago, in July 2019, the bets now give the Lakers the lead over the Clippers; so much so that a Doc Rivers win pays almost double ($3.25 per dollar bet, while the Lakers are left with $1.80 per dollar bet). Among them would be the Bucks with $2.75 per dollar bet. Behind them, the truth is that no team inspires great confidence. The quarter-finalists with the lowest odds are the Rockets, while Celtics, Nuggets and Raptors are close behind. The rest are far behind.