NBA Eyeing First Time Champion Odds and Betting Favorites
Eight teams remain in the hunt for the 2021 NBA Championship, and the odds are the last team standing will be a first-time champion. Of the eight remaining teams, five of them have never won a title. Of the three that have won, it’s been 38 years since it last happened.
That team that won 38 years ago was the Sixers, back when Julius Erving and Moses Malone led them. Philadelphia did reach the NBA Finals again in 2001 but lost to the Lakers 4-1. Since that Finals trip 20 years ago, the Sixers haven’t been past the semifinals of the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers opened this year’s semifinals with a 128-124 Game 1 loss but still remain favored at -140 to win the series.
The next most recent champion of the bunch is the Bucks, who last won in 1971. It was just the third year in existence for the expansion franchise, led by 23-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Teamed with the newly acquired Oscar Robertson, the Bucks won 66 games that year, including a record 20 in a row. Milwaukee got back to Finals in 1974 but hasn’t been back since.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a two-time MVP but had just 18 points in Milwaukee’s Game 2 loss on Monday. The Bucks now sit at +340 odds to win the series.
The third of the past champions is the Atlanta Hawks, although when they were last crowned champions in 1958, they played in St. Louis, and the league had all of eight teams. The Hawks were led that season by the 24 ppg and 17 rpg from future Hall of Famer Bob Pettit. The Hawks went to two more Finals in St. Louis, losing both, moved to Atlanta in 1968, and haven’t been back to the Finals since.
On Tuesday night, the Hawks will look to go up 2-0 on Philadelphia but do so against +205 moneyline odds in that game.
The lone remaining Eastern Conference team, the Nets, haven’t ever won an NBA championship. However, they did manage to win a pair of ABA titles before moving to the NBA in 1976. In New Jersey, the Nets went to back-to-back Finals in 2002 and 2003 (losing to the Lakers and Spurs), but they haven’t made it past the Eastern Conference semis since moving to Brooklyn nine seasons ago.
The James Harden-less Nets hammered Milwaukee 125-86 to go up 2-0 in their semifinal series. Still the Nets remain a prohibitive favorite to win the series at -420 odds.
The Nuggets made it to the ABA Finals one year but lost that series to the New York Nets. Since moving to the NBA, they have never made it that far, losing in the Western Conference Finals four times. The closest Denver got to advancing to the Finals was 1978, when they lost to Seattle 4-2, and in 2009, when they lost to the Lakers 4-2.
Nikola Jokic scored 22 points in the Nuggets Game 1 loss to Phoenix but failed to score in the fourth quarter. Denver is still a long shot to win the series at +340 odds.
Like their 1968 expansion team cousins, the Bucks, Phoenix had early success. They made it to the NBA Finals for the first time in 1976, beating the Sonics and Warriors to get there but losing to the Celtics. The Charles Barley-led Suns made it back to the Finals in 1993, losing to Michael Jordan’s Bulls. This year’s trip to the postseason is the first for Phoenix in 10 years.
The Suns opened up their semifinal series against the Nuggets with a 122-105 win and have taken a firm hold on the odds to win the series at -420.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers began as a franchise as the Buffalo Braves and had mild success there. They played in three straight Eastern Conference semifinals from 1974 through 1976. The move west happened in 1978, and the renamed Clippers spent their first 13 years in Southern California missing the playoffs. This season is the sixth time the Clippers have made it to the Western Conference semifinals, but they’ve never advanced beyond that.
L.A. opens its semifinal series in Utah on Tuesday where they are slight underdogs to advance at +105 odds.
Of the NBA teams that have never won a title, the Utah Jazz have been the closest. During a streak of 20 straight years of postseason play, the Jazz went to back-to-back NBA Finals, losing to the Bulls both times. That team featured two of the top 50 NBA players of all time, Karl Malone and John Stockton, and was the No. 1 seed in the West both seasons.
The Jazz are again the top seed in the West this year and open their semifinal series Tuesday against the Clippers. The Jazz are favored to win the series at -125 odds and enter this match as three-point favorites.
NBA Series Prices
|Hawks Series Prices||+120|
|76ers Series Prices||-140|
|Clippers Series Prices||+105|
|Jazz Series Prices||-125|
|Nuggets Series Prices||+340|
|Suns Series Prices||-420|
|Bucks Series Prices||+340|
|Nets Series Prices||-420|