The NBA season is approaching the all-star break but a significant date before then is this Thursday’s trade deadline. There could be a few teams willing to take a big swing on the market as everyone is trying to track down the favorites, the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors are the favorites at -200, and they have been "struggling" of late, with just four wins in their last seven games. They’ve been sluggish but still have a two-game lead as the best team in the NBA. You get the feeling that this team is just biding its time until the playoffs, although the Houston Rockets could be a legitimate challenger. The Rockets are priced at +600, which many view as good value considering they have won two of three meetings with the Warriors this season. James Harden is again playing at an MVP level and Chris Paul has slotted in seamlessly. The Rockets have served notice that they’re going to be a problem, which means home-court advantage in the playoffs could be huge in the Western Conference playoffs.
Next in line are two teams from the Eastern Conference: Cleveland at +650 and Boston at +800. It’s a bit of a surprise to see the Cavaliers still favored to win the East as they have been a terrible defensive team. LeBron James and owner Dan Gilbert are fighting, the Cavaliers haven’t been active in the trade market and Isaiah Thomas is still recovering from his hip injury. The Cavs are just 6-12 in their last 18 games, which is awful.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are better than anyone expected. They might be the best defensive team in the league, which is always crucial come playoff time. Kyrie Irving has played at an MVP level and youngsters Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have really stepped up. The Celtics will be in Toronto on Tuesday night in a matchup of the top two teams in the East. Toronto is priced at +2200 to win it all even though it’s possible that they might be a better team than both the Celtics and Cavaliers. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are playing well, the Raptors have depth and they’re the only team in the league that is in the top 10 in both points allowed and points scored. However, no one cares about what they do in the regular season; they have to do something in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City comes in at +2000. While their trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have their moments, they haven’t been consistent. However, the loss of Andre Roberson is massive on the defensive end. San Antonio is lurking at +2200, but Kawhi Leonard has been injured basically all season and he and the Spurs aren’t getting along due to his rehabilitation. Minnesota is coming on at +3300 as the Timberwolves are finally performing like the talented playoff team many perceived them to be. However, a lack of playoff experience is keeping their odds low.
Looking further down the list, some people might have given a thought to betting Washington and Milwaukee at +6600 at different times this season. However, John Wall is out for two months with a knee injury for the Wizards and the Bucks just lost Malcolm Brogdon for about the same time.
One team that is an intriguing bet is the Detroit Pistons, who are up to +10000 after acquiring Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers. They have won four straight but are merely 26-26 on the season and wouldn’t make the playoffs if the postseason started today.