We’re past the trade deadline and are heading down the home stretch of the 2021 NBA season. The Brooklyn Nets look like the team to beat and the Los Angeles Lakers are still the kings that need to be dethroned, but who else is in contention for a championship this season? Let’s take a closer look.
The Brooklyn Nets (+230) are the clear favorites right now as we move towards the playoffs. Their trio of superstars (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden) instantly make them the team to beat. Now throw in Lamarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin, and suddenly you have yourselves a super team. Brooklyn has the star power and offense to take out any team in the NBA, they just have to stay healthy enough to get on the court at the same time.
The Los Angeles Lakers (+325) are still close second in line but they have dropped pretty far down in the standings. That’s because the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been injured and the team hasn’t been able to keep the ship righted with them out. When they are healthy, though, the reigning champions have proven that they can keep up. Even though they might get a lower seed in the West, they’re still capable of beating any team in a playoff series.
The Los Angeles Clippers (+600) seem to be flipping back and forth from contender to longshot. They have all the star power in the world but are still inconsistent. The combination of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard is about as good as it gets but they haven’t delivered in the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz (+1000) have the best record in the NBA but there are still plenty of skeptics. They seem to have excellent chemistry, which has resulted in good defense and a very balanced offense. They just don’t have the same pedigree as some of the other teams, so they’ll be underdogs against teams like the Lakers until they prove they can best them in the playoffs.
The Milwaukee Bucks (+1200) have the reigning MVP and a great group of players surrounding him, yet they are nothing more than longshots this season. The team is fantastic with Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo all in the starting lineup. However, they weren’t able to garner much postseason success last year (or years before that) and will have an even tougher time passing the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of the 76ers (+1300), they are another longshot simply because they haven’t delivered in previous postseasons. They’ve flamed out in the playoffs the last few years – just like the Bucks – and they have to convince bettors that this year is different. New head coach in Doc Rivers has surrounded Joel Embiid – an MVP candidate this year – with excellent three-point shooters to stretch the floor but is it enough? We’ll find out come playoff time.