NBA 2021/22: Should the Bucks Be Favorites to Repeat?

For most neutrals, the 2020/21 NBA season was something of a classic. It was dramatic and unpredictable, with the excitement growing throughout the Playoffs. While the Milwaukee Bucks ended up as champions – ending a 50-year wait for fans – other teams, like the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, also played their part in one of the best climaxes to an NBA season in recent times. 

But, as great champions like to say, there is always next season to look forward to. And, the NBA will return for its full 82-game schedule in the regular season on October 19th. You might expect the Bucks to be highly placed in the odds for repeating after a fantastic season. And they are fancied to do well again, but they are not the favorites. It might seem early to publish basketball odds for the 2021/22 NBA season as the last has just ended, but many top betting firms have released new markets for 2021/22, and they believe the Nets are the most likely to win the NBA Finals next year. 

Nets hurt by injuries in Conference Semis

888 Sport has put the Nets as the outright favorites, with odds of 9/4 (+225). Next up comes the Lakers with odds of 5/1 (+500) and the Bucks on (+700). That’s quite a statement of confidence in the Nets, and it might also surprise fans to see the reigning champs with quite high odds. The pair clashed, of course, in the Eastern Conference Semis in what was arguably the most thrilling series of the Playoffs. The Bucks edged out the Nets in OT in Game 7 in an epic encounter. Indeed, so close was the series that four of the seven games needed overtime. 

So, why the relatively large difference in the odds between the champs and the team they knocked out in the Semis? Well, that series was incredibly close, and most Nets fans were left wondering what might have been if the team had not been racked with injuries. Kyrie Irving was a particularly tough loss from the series, and James Harden, while getting some game time, had a couple of niggling injuries. 

Sportsbooks seem to agree with the assertion: The Nets at full strength would offer too much for the Bucks. And yet, some Bucks fans will believe their team can repeat. Giannis Antetokounmpo, while already a franchise player, proved in the Finals that he could become more than just the face of the Milwaukee Bucks – he could be the best player in NBA. While the Bucks aren’t as heavily stacked as the Nets, nor the Lakers, a couple of smart moves in free agency. 

GSW could be back in 2022

Of course, the Bucks, Nets and Lakers aren’t the only teams that could be competitive in the new season. The Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns will all have high expectations for the new season. The Clippers and Nuggets, too, will likely have a say in the Playoffs. 

It’s worth remembering that there is a lot that can happen between now and October 19th (the start date for the regular season). Rosters can be transformed, and even teams that we have not mentioned above might suddenly become competitive. Should the Bucks, as champions, be favorites? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be at some point. And, don’t forget, the Bucks weren’t the favorites at the beginning of last season. Perhaps a dozen teams have a serious chance of winning in 2022 – and that sets it up for a great season ahead. 

What Makes a Great MLB Mascot?

Baseball is all about the action on the field but sometimes a team needs a rallying call to push them to a higher level and that’s where a mascot can play an important role. Mascots have been entertaining MLB crowds and getting teams pumped up ever since 1964 when Mr. Met first appeared at the opening of the New York Mets’ Shea Stadium. But what makes one mascot more successful than another?

The On-Field Influence of Mascots

Some have credited Clark the Cub as being a vital part of the Chicago Cubs' recent revival including breaking their 108-year curse to win the 2016 World Series. Clark was introduced in 2014 and the team has enjoyed a sustained period of success ever since. The influence of club mascots on results may not be the deciding factor, especially when you consider the Cubs are now +7000 in the MLB odds on bet365 for the World Series, but there have certainly been games where mascots have raised the atmosphere to fever pitch ahead of some big turnarounds. In most cases, a bad mascot is deemed to be better than having no mascot at all. However, the current World Series favorites, the Los Angeles Dodgers (priced at +400) are one of only three mascot-less teams in the league.

The Best Mascot of Them All

To discover what makes a great mascot, it makes sense to look at the best of them all. Phillie Phanatic was introduced as the Philadelphia Phillies mascot back in 1978 and is consistently ranked as the best mascot in Major League Baseball, and is one of the most iconic in all US sports. Phillie Phanatic works on so many levels: he has a fun back story, he appeals to adults and children, and he is wildly entertaining. Crucially, he also has that ability to lift the atmosphere at key moments in a game.

So, who is Phillie Phanatic? Well, he is a large green flightless bird who hails from the Galapagos Islands. He has a trumpet-shaped beak, an extendable tongue, knows martial arts and drives around in an all-terrain vehicle. He spends the games interacting with the home crowd and mocking the opposition players and coaches. He has been known to arrive via parachute and on horseback. Sometimes, he even fires hot dogs from an air-powered cannon.

Cultural Appeal

Phillie Phanatic is a far cry from the team’s originals mascots who were two children dressed in traditional 18th-century clothing. The club’s management quickly realized that a large fluffy bird with a larger-than-life personality would have wider appeal and improve the atmosphere at the stadium. The fluffy green bird has since appeared in The Simpsons, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Rock, The David Letterman Show and the Rocky Balboa movie. He has been on the sidelines for five World Series and six no-hitters, including Roy Halladay’s perfect game in 2010, and he is one of only five MLB mascots to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

While some may still criticize them, mascots have become a key part of MLB culture and can really make a difference to the whole ball-game experience. They also play a big part in community life, appearing at schools and charity events, and forming important connections between the teams and the public.

Top 5 NBA Teams to Watch This Season

With little decided at the start of the week tons of exciting games filled with twists, turns, bumps, and bruises crowded The Association’s final week of play. In the wake of these highlights, we ready ourselves for the teams to start grinding through the real season that is about to start.

The players of the 30 teams in the league produce the most awe-inspiring displays of skill this planet has ever seen, and two not-so-distinct factions exist. Most teams focus on simply blitzing everything else that appears on their radar as they try to steamroller their way to the top.

In opposition to these displays of dominance there are a few other teams that despite being just as potent are out to deliver the maximum level of entertainment to their fans. They try their damnedest to wow the crowds with risky plays that whip the fans into a frenzy as they seemingly without any effort add hugely flamboyant and daring displays of skill to their game.

These teams might not always quite be the favorites to snatch up an NBA trophy each year. Yet people continue to flock in droves to their always sold-out games all season long and they do so just to repeatedly witness these stunning displays of otherworldly skill. Risk-laden skillful plays which they produce with no purpose other than to entertain their fans, sometimes to the detriment of their overall season points tally.

Basketball’s Most Spectacular Entertainment

Could a ball fundamentally change the way people look at and experience the world. The answer is yes, and more specifically that ball is a basketball. It requires the greatest of men like Gandhi, Tolstoy, Martin Luther King, and Mandela to dedicate all their energy and the balance of their lives to affect and change the way we live and perceive the world by the slightest of margin. Yet a simple game where a bunch of everyday guys pass a ball around a court managed to completely change our everyday lives.

Each day a large part of the world sits in front of TVs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones waiting expectantly for their team’s basketball game to begin. Other than deaths, births, and other emergencies there is little that interferes with the ritual. Groups of guys, girls, the elderly in group homes, prisoners, hospital staff, and lots of others from all walks of life across the globe all gather to watch or take quick sneak peeks at the game and much of the world is at peace for the duration of a game. New bonds are formed, new friends are made, and the world has become just a little better due to a simple game!

People want to connect and do so due to games played on courts in neighborhoods, sports centers, stadiums, and school grounds across the earth. The world wants entertainment to free itself from the drudgery of everyday life and basketball provides it in spades! The popularity of basketball saw it evolve from just another sport into numerous fully-fledged forms of alternate entertainment. It gave rise to basketball shows, exhibition matches by specialized teams like the Harlem Globetrotters, stage shows, and so much more.

Online Basketball Gaming Entertainment

Another popular form of basketball entertainment is found in a whole bunch of hugely fun-to-play high-quality basketball-themed slot games. Produced by several leading software developers they are easily identifiable via names like Basketball Star, Dennis Rodman, Basketball Game, Slot Dunk, Basketbull, Slam Funk, and Money Shot Slot.

Naturally the versatility and variety of games and themes available at online casinos offer fans the most convenient access whenever they feel like taking a spin or two.

Licenced online casinos offer the greatest levels of safety and security to those still unfamiliar with online gaming. Online casinos remain the safest to start experimenting with online gaming because they allow visitors to play all their real slot games for free before investing any of their own money! It is recommended you first try out some free slot games this spring - try these free ones before committing a dime of your own.

The Most Exciting Teams for 20/21

No matter which of the teams in The Playoffs are out on the field each evening they all deliver an evening of excellent entertainment. However, a few players and some teams create spectacular plays more regularly than others. These entertainers provide their fans with a touch of true inspirational magic that changes lives forever.

In a select few plays the sense of expectancy in the atmosphere becomes palpable. Even before it happens you get a feeling you’re about to witness greatness, an other-worldly display of superhuman skill. And then it happens right in front of you, and you remember those moments for the rest of your life! We look at the most entertaining NBA teams for the 2020-21 season.

Honorable Mention - Something Special About Dallas

It’s the home of the Mavericks and wide consensus has it in common that despite fan favoritism shown towards established power teams like The Bulls, Lakers, and Celtics, the team hailing from Dallas regularly tops the most entertaining to watch list for many. Especially so since a certain Luka Doncic made his appearance, already named an MVP candidate, the star has turned into one of the NBA’s most powerful offensive points scorers.

Make no mistake his ability to rack up points might contribute towards his audience magnetism but even that is not his main attraction. Entertainment, yes, massively entertaining plays where he makes the court his personal playground where he seems to have fun as he floats across the wooden floor while other world-class stars seem to work hard just to keep up never mind play with him.

The Mavs have adopted a heliocentric style of play centered around Doncic. It includes Luka in just about every play, he nearly always gets to lay a hand on the ball, and pretty much every time he manages to mesmerize the watchers! His impeccable metronome-like sense of timing and spatial awareness allows him to finish with relative ease and flair in tight spaces. Precision step-backs turn him into a prodigious scorer.

The most amazing part is this level of skill that is enough to turn him into an All-Star all by itself is not where his stunning offensive abilities stop. He’s also a stunning playmaker that continually feeds the rest of the team, he has the ability to sniff out cutters, roll-men, and spot-ups that is on par with the best in the NBA.

Fortunately for fans, talent runs extremely deep in the NBA which means night-after-night they always have tons of talented teams, players, and special plays as baseline entertainment. For the fans of the greatest game here are five NBA players to watch in 2021.

Utah Jazz

How far will the top seed Utah Jazz make it in the absence of any true superstars? That is said with the greatest respect to Donovan Mitchell but take the gentleman’s track record into consideration. He has never won any major award, collected MVP votes, made All-NBA, or set a statistical record! So, despite his standing after a highly entertaining, epic run in the bubble during the previous season he has not yet achieved superstardom.

History is not on the side of teams in this position, but we will see how Utah puts this theory to the test. The Jazz just might make history after having posted the best record in the Western Conference by destroying the opposition all season long via a combination of grand defense and high-value 3-point efficiency.

That said, one also must consider their near one-dimensional offense. Firstly, the Jazz team roster attests to a lack of championship experience. Secondly, where will they conjure points from should the shots suddenly stop falling? Until Utah addresses these legitimate concerns the West’s favorites will continue to reside somewhere in the LA basin.

Los Angeles Lakers

Western Conference’s defending champion the LA Lakers received good news with LeBron James declared fit before the first of their series of upcoming battles against the Suns. The news is especially fortuitous since LeBron’s taken to the early season like a man possessed, relentlessly making his presence felt play after play. Despite a run of bad luck for the Lakers with a bunch of health issues putting a crimp on team performance eventually not even the Warriors’ one-man unstoppable force, Steph Curry, could counter a game-long barrage from their main artillery.

A healthy, well-rested, and prepared LeBron James and Anthony Davis means the Lakers have full access to the considerable weight of their perfect power couple. How well does the balance of the rotation stack up against last year, stronger, as potent, or weaker?

The team received what is considered a mild upgrade with Wesley Matthews, Dennis Schroder, and Andre Drummond replacing the departing Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and Danny Green. Fact is, Howard is past his sell-by date, and despite serving a productive term with the champs Rondo is unable to make it rain like Schroder, while Green constantly failed to find the basket.

A further bit of good fortune for the Lakers is their seeding bracket offers the defending champ a clear shot through to the conference finals. This means they will not face the Jazz or Clippers till the finals, it leaves enough time to identify which players will add the desired skills and qualities required to recapture the crown this year. In another bit of good news, the Lakers confirmed to have signed a 20-year extension to their lease at Staples Center.

Philadelphia 76ers

Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference the Philadelphia 76ers steamed through their early season games to clinch the top seed ranking. How much of a difference will it make if Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden only played together as a team for eight games and just once since February?

Will the shortage of outside shooting skills negate the talent of Ben Simmons? During playoffs, the flow of play slows, and the apparent size of courts reduces notably. This reduces fast-break points and places weight on shooting skill, so can Simmons find the basket from 15 feet and beyond on a regular basis?

A pervasive notion exists that speculates Joel Embiid, as a center without peers, will set up camp in the lane for the duration of the playoffs. Except or until he faces Nicola Jokic during The Finals which will naturally make for truly spectacular spectating.

If Simmons gets double teamed Harris and Curry can handle shooting tasks, but at some stage opposing defenses will test Ben’s jumping skills. Till now the 76ers star has done a stellar job of avoiding these situations. He is also highly likely to keep doing so unless the man gains a ton of confidence in his jumpers overnight. Will someone see it as an opportunity, capitalize on it and perhaps do damage to the Sixers chances at clinching the crown this season?

Brooklyn Nets

Can the Nets muster the defensive might they need to realize their mighty ambitions this season? This after the Nets spent an early season earning themselves a relatively low ranking for their lack of defense against opposition buckets. Considering their current standing, do they really need to worry too much about building a strong team defense? They only need to continue outscoring the opposition. It might not be the ideal strategy, but it worked exceedingly well for them so far this season! For 2020/21 the Nets brought together an assembly of powerful offensive players, quite possibly the most formidable in the history of the NBA!

Combining the skills of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Hardin at its nucleus and then building upon that by augmenting their essence with the always hungry opportunistic skills of Blake Griffin and Joe Harris. Not much can prevent that combination from walking anyone with their combined ability to drop 140 to 150 points in any given game. They could gift-wrap 120 points a night to the opposition for the remainder of the season and still collect the title with a smile and a spring in their step without once feeling the pressure.

It means Brooklyn requires no solid lock-down on defense since few teams, if any, will match their points scoring pace. The team must simply continue playing their own game to allow the offense to set the pace of games while preventing opposition players from having career nights.

Denver Nuggets

Finally we have the Denver Nuggets led by MVP favorite Nikola Jokic. The Serbian has been recording stellar performances, taking his game from strength to strength to become one of the best centers the NBA has seen over the past couple of decades.

Last year the Nuggets lost the Western Conference Finals to the Lakers with a score of 4-1. The Lakers went on to become champions that year, but things look different this time around. The Lakers are struggling with injuries and form, which is not the case with the Nuggets. Jokic’s impressive performances have not only led his team to become a force to be reckoned with, but he’s also a prime candidate for the MVP award.

The Serbian’s performances have been impressive and eye-catching for many fans and ex-players too, including a certain Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq is a big fan of the Joker, so much so that he’s been trying to give his praises in Serbian.