Updated NBA Futures: Nets and Lakers Continue To Top Markets





The race for the Larry O’Brien Trophy is underway, and the NBA futures markets are taking shape as the season reaches the first-month mark.

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Going into the 2021-22 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets were the prohibitive favorites across market operators to win the NBA finals. The Los Angeles Lakers were the second-best bet and the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks were the third-best bet overall.

After this top trio, the Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks all emerged, amongst several others, as legitimate contenders as per the oddsmakers and NBA basketball betting stats. However, they were a good distance off the Nets, Lakers and Bucks with odds that represented much lower probability of winning (less than 5%).

It’s early days yet. The NBA landscape is only just settling into place, and while a few preseason contenders are in the mix, there are a few surprise stories emerging already.

The Nets (10-4) are exactly where many predicted they’d be: at the top of the Atlantic Division and tied for second place with the Chicago Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference. However, it’s not been smooth sailing for the Nets, who got off to a 2-3 start in their first five games that included an opening 127-104 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and a 111-95 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

Durant and company hit an early season-low with a 103-96 loss to the Miami Heat in their fifth game of the season, prompting some candid remarks from Brooklyn’s star about his teammate Kyrie Irving.


The slow start to the season wasn’t only down to Irving’s absence, although the brouhaha over the circumstances around it was a distraction in itself.

The Nets started the season without the seven-time All-Star due to his stance against Covid-19 vaccination and his absence was sorely felt. New York City’s vaccine mandate prevents players who aren’t vaccinated from playing.

Although Irving could have been a part-time participant (playing exclusively on the road where rules aren’t so stringent), the team decided that he would not play unless he could be a full-time player.

Whether Irving will play for the Nets at some point this season remains to be seen, but as Brooklyn starts to right the ship, it’s possible his value for the team will diminish over time. Durant continues to be his stellar self, underscoring his value as Brooklyn’s most influential player on the court.

The Los Angeles Lakers remain the second favorites across the board despite their early-season troubles, which included losing LeBron James to injury. Their worst-case scenario after limping to the finish line with a decimated starting line-up last season.

King James’ absence is a big blow to Los Angeles as they slip to a modest 8-7 start in the first month. Bookmakers are reluctant to hang too low a price on the Lakers right now because of their bounce-back ability upon LeBron James’ return.

As things currently stand, the Lakers are fourth overall in the Pacific Division, four games back of the surging Golden State Warriors who lead both the division and the Western Conference.

Trading for Russell Westbrook in the offseason was supposed to help the Lakers weather such storms, but it’s easy to understand why that hasn’t gone quite to plan. Westbrook has only just joined the team, and LeBron’s injury came way too early for the Lakers and Westbrook to adjust or assimilate cohesively enough so those big-name absences aren’t felt as much.

The good news for the Lakers, LeBron is expected to return soon. As early as this Friday against the Boston Celtics, according to the latest reports.



The Milwaukee Bucs are 6-8 on the season and struggling something huge. Considering they were the last team off the court this summer after winning the NBA title, their slow start isn’t surprising at all.

The Bucks have had the shortest offseason and a rash of injuries is catching up to them already. Nevertheless, odds makers are loathe to drop Milwaukee’s odds just yet too. It would be an overreaction to the first month sample, which could prove costly down the road. After all, as the team gets healthier, their potential to bounce back is high.

The Golden State Warriors (11-2) are off to a fabulous start, which isn’t surprising. Stephen Curry and the Warriors have championship pedigree, and they were amongst the contenders from the start.

The Phoenix Suns (10-3), who lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA finals, are off to a better start than most expected, but their odds have remained largely the same because the Western Conference is loaded in talent and that will make a repeat final appearance tougher.

The biggest movers and shakers on the odds board is Miami. The Heat appear to be tapping into their 2020 NBA finals form – they’re up to 9-5 on the season and fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.

Finally, the Chicago Bulls are the quintessential surprise package of the first month. Few saw the Bulls coming this season, but they’re up to second in the standings with a 10-4 record. Whether they can maintain this form remains to be seen though.

What are the latest NBA power rankings?

 


This season’s NBA campaign kicked off on the 20th of October, as the defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks took on the Brooklyn Nets. As was expected, the Bucks carried on their strong form from the previous campaign and didn’t look overly troubled, with the final score ending up 127-104. 


Since then, however, their form has been fairly mixed. At the time of writing, they have played 11 times, winning 5 matches, but losing 6. This means they are quite unpredictable, so fans using sports betting sties like draftkings sportsbook might think twice before placing bets on them to win in their upcoming fixtures, against the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.


The current official power rankings on the NBA website have the Bucks as low down as 16th. They have injuries to Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez to contend with, so it will be hard to see them climbing up the rankings in the next few weeks.


Let’s take a look at which teams are thriving this season in the NBA, and who already looks like they will be struggling to make it to the playoffs.

Miami bringing the heat

After 9 games played, the Miami Heat are top of both the Eastern Conference and the power rankings, despite losses to the Celtics and the Denver Nuggets in the last week (the rankings were published before the game against the Nuggets, so this could well change in the next few days).

 

Instead of focusing on the defeats, which have been fairly shocking, instead let’s look at the positives, which saw them win all but 1 of their opening 8 matches. The stand out results would be a 137-95 of the current NBA champions (even if, as mentioned previously, the Bucks haven’t hit their stride just yet) and the big score achieved against the Memphis Grizzlies, which finished 129-103 to the Heat.


A  big test for them is in their next game, against the LA Lakers. It is made all the more interesting as the Heat’s former star player (and NBA MVP during his time in Miami) , LeBron James, now plays for the Lakers, helping them to win the 2020 Championship. Will the Heat show LeBron what he is missing by beating them this week at the Staples Center? Given LA’s average start, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen.



The Warriors topping the Western Conference

Over on the other side of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors are looking like a force to be reckoned with, having won 9 and lost just 1 of their opening fixtures. They opened up the campaign with a 121-114 win over the Lakers, and also ran out big scores against the New Orleans Pelicans (126-85) the Charlotte Hornets (114-92) and the Sacramento Kings (119-107). 


Given that their next 2 matches see them take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in front of their home crowd at the Chase Center, before welcoming the Chicago Bulls there on Saturday the 13th, we expect their record to not only improve, but for them to also rise up to the top spot in the NBA power rankings.


The Warriors were the dominant force in basketball for a period, winning 3 championships between 2015 and 2018. With Stephen Curry still looking like a world-beater, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see them lift another championship later this year.

Nets and 76ers looking beyond the Conference Semifinals

Last year in the playoffs, both the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers made it as far as the Eastern Conference Semifinals, before being beaten by the Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks respectively. While making it to the last 8 is certainly admirable, both sides will be wanting to go even further if possible this year.


It could be achievable, as both sides are in good form in this early part of the season. The 76ers have a record of 8-4 so far, recording positive results against the Detroit Pistons and the Hawks. However, they are currently on a 2 game losing streak, having lost to the New York Knicks and the Bucks in their most recent fixtures. They will be hoping to turn things around against the Toronto Raptors next time out.


The Nets meanwhile have recovered from their opening day defeat to the Bucks, with solid wins against the Washington Wizards, the Indiana Pacers, and the 76ers. They were on the wrong end of a 118-95 scoreline against the Bulls in game 11, so will be looking to get back on track against the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center.

Rockets not firing

Spare a thought for the Houston Rockets, who are currently rock bottom of the power rankings. It is not a good time for the city of Houston, who also have the Houston Texans at the bottom of the NFL power rankings. Hopefully the Rockets will pick up their second win of the season against the Pistons in a few days time.


Kevin Durant and James Harden Beginning to Show Why Brooklyn Nets Are the Big Favorites in NBA Title Chase



In the opening weeks of the season, it would be fair to say that the overwhelming favorites for NBA title glory were a shadow of the team that many had predicted. Defeats to Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Miami left the Brooklyn Nets 2-3 after five games of the new season, and there was a lot to do in order to get Steve Nash's side back where they should be. 


Some may have felt the absence of Kyrie Irving was a factor, but Kevin Durant and James Harden have been in spellbinding form of late, and now the Nets side top of the Atlantic Division after a series of eight wins from nine games. 


Now the Barclays Center side is way out in front in terms of the NBA betting, which can be seen at sidelines.io/nba; the Nets are now placed at (+275) some way ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (+700) and the in-form Golden State Warriors (+800). 


As an illustration of the work put in by their star duo, you only have to note that Kevin Durant sits top of points per game stats (at 29.6), and James Harden sits in the second spot in assists (at 9.3 per game). 


The pair's efforts unsurprisingly led to them both getting roundly booed on their first joint return to the Oklahoma City Thunder; during a match that the Nets ran out 120-96 winners, the pair amassed 49 points between them, and Harden put in 13 assists. 


That win brought an end to Oklahoma's own four-win streak, and Harden was pleased with the effort put in by the Nets;


"They've been playing well. They'd won four straight prior to this game. We didn't take them lightly and came out and tried to play very good Brooklyn Nets basketball on both ends of the ball," Harden commented. "I think we did that." 


Nash commented on how far both players have come since their respective stints at the Paycom Center side, where they played a combined 11 seasons;


"I think the last time James was here, he wasn't the MVP James that has had such an impact on the game," explained Nash. "So much success, such prolific numbers, had the rules changed because of him. That player was in there somewhere, but it was not fully formed yet. So while everyone could see the talent and effectiveness, he's definitely become something in the last ten years or however long that's been that's totally different and historic."


"I think Kevin [has become] refined as well; in a different way, you know Kevin, we could see the prodigious talent and effectiveness and efficiency even back then. But he's just now in such a different state of being on the court; there's a mastery to what he does where there was a little more rawness to his game back then, still doing it at an incredible level and doing it with more knowing." Added Nash.


The Nets are looking good, but the season is long, and Nash knows that other members of his roster will need to put in the hard work to support their marquee stars.

Latest MLB News: Atlanta Braves 2021 World Series Champions

That’s a wrap! With game 6 of the series, the Atlanta Braves win the World Series and close out the season with a game to spare. But that gives us a lot to talk about, today we’re going to be taking a look at the Braves 4-2 win to take the world series to see how they took home the Commissioner’s Trophy. Not only that, but with us plunging into the offseason, it’s time for trades! We’ll be looking at some of the best MLB odds for the biggest and wildest transfer rumours, if we’re all settled in, let’s get to it!



The Atlanta Braves lifted the Commissioner's Trophy after beating the Houston Astros 4-2 in a best of 7 winning the World Series. Source: McCovey Chronicles



Okay, first things first. The fact the Braves have won the World Series is huge, this is their first World Series since 1995. For those who haven’t checked recently we’re currently in 2021, that’s a 26 year wait for a World Series win! As a Liverpool (Football) and a Leafs (Hockey) fan, I know what it’s like to wait a long time for a major win, 30 years for Liverpool to win their 19th League Title and their first in the Premier League era, the Leafs? They’ve been waiting since the 60s for a Stanley Cup. So I know how it feels to wait a long time to see some silverware. Braves fans, soak it in. This is something you’ll be able to tell your kids about and your kids kids for YEARS to come! So own it, enjoy it like I know you all will!

But how did they do it? Well, the world series final is a best of 7 series, the Braves took it in 6. Even though they lost 2 games, they weren’t even necessarily bad in those games other than game 2 where they lost 7-2 they genuinely didn’t even struggle much, their other loss was a 9-5 in game 5, but in that game they still ended up with 5 runs scored. They pretty much cruised to victory, did they make it easy for themselves in the regular season? Most definitely not.

You know, no matter how you look at it, a team with a .547 win percentage during the regular season probably shouldn’t be winning the World Series, when you’ve got teams like Giants who won a whopping 107 games, the Dodgers hitting 106 wins and even the Rays hit triple digits in the win column, but of all the teams to make the world series this year, the Braves were the ONLY team to not record 90+ regular season wins. The only team with a worse regular season record to win a World Series are the 2006 St Louis Cardinals who went 83-76 with a .516 winning percentage, kinda crazy to think of it like that right?

It just goes to show you that when your big names step up to the plate and they’re ready to compete, anybody has a chance and that was definitely the case for the Braves, with players like Jorge Soler putting in a performance that gave him 3 homers in 6 games knocking one clear out of the park to gain the Braves a 3 run shot! But the biggest play was in acquiring the big names, phenomenal work by general manager Alex Anthopoulos, he did his research and got exactly what he deserved from it. Well done Alex and the team, a real Brave performance. I’m sorry, I’ll let myself out.




Freddie Freeman is a much sought after name this off season with the Braves potentially shopping him. Source: Sporting News


Maybe to the surprise of many, rumours have been flying about Freddie Freeman being traded by the Braves. After a pretty solid season, proving himself as a top tier defensive first baseman and line drive hitter, there seems to be a lot of interest in the potential of acquiring Freddie. Teams like the Astros, the Indians and the Mariners are all said to be interested.

It was announced yesterday that the Rangers have had 4 players clear outright waivers meaning they will be eligible for minor league free agency, those players are first basemen Curtis Terry and Ronald Guzmán, reliever Matt Bush and infielder Anderson Tejeda. There is some good experience to be picked up here for any potential suitors.

That’s gonna do it for this one, the off season is still young. There will be plenty more rumours flying around in the coming days, many teams looking to strengthen and let go of their perceived “dead wood” as it were, ready for next season to start. We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground to keep you posted as they come in! Are there any names you’re looking for your team to acquire, or even shift out the door?

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.

How to prepare for NBA Finals betting


We are creeping into the final few games of the regular season and the NBA playoffs are getting closer and closer. 

In both the Eastern and Western Conferences the postseason picture is looking increasingly clear and attentions will soon be turning to NBA Finals betting. We look likely to be treated to another exciting climax and it is never too early to start preparing for one of the biggest sports betting events of the year.

 Here is everything you should be considering ahead of the 2021 NBA Finals. 

How to Get Ahead 

Although there is still a way to go until the NBA Finals kick off, it is never too early to start preparing to get ahead of the competition. There are many Finals betting guides on the internet but here are three of our top tips. 

Study the Playoffs Closely 

It may seem obvious but in order to maximise your chances of making successful NBA Finals bets you need to follow the Playoffs religiously. We are not saying you have to watch every game — you have to have some life right? — but it is vital to catch as many as possible. You need to get a feel for which teams and players are looking like impressing when the Finals finally get going. Make sure you are not just focusing on a team’s offense either. As we have seen countless times it is defense that wins championships, so closely study how each finalist looks without the ball. 

Use Stats 

To complement watching the games you should also analyse the stats of each finalist. Thanks to awesome websites like Basketball Reference, advanced numbers on all NBA teams are at your fingertips. By not using these resources you are limiting your chances of success. One particularly helpful stat is Offensive Rating. This is the amount of points a team would be expected to score per 100 possessions. It is a better rounded way of assessing a team’s offensive capability compared to simply looking at their points or field goal percentage. 

See What the Experts are Saying 

While not all basketball ‘experts’ can be trusted, some analysis can provide helpful insights on how the NBA Finals may turn out. Since the arrival of social media, a bustling community of talented analysts has emerged. If you struggle to interpret numbers, seeking out these accounts may help you get your head around all the newest statistics, leading to more accurate predictions. Combine all three of these tips and you could witness an increase in successful bets during this season’s NBA Finals. 

NBA Finals Betting Markets 

As one of the biggest spectator events on the planet you will not be surprised to learn that the  NBA Finals offers a myriad of betting markets. The opportunities are too numerous to list in their entirety below, so we have curated some of our favourites. 

Game Lines 

If you are just getting started with NBA Finals betting, it is likely you will want to begin with something simple. No bet is easier to understand than Money Lines. Here, you are trying to predict which of the two teams will win. Unlike other sports, a draw is not possible in the NBA so there are only two possibilities. Point spreads are more complicated as a winning/losing margin is added to each team. The favorite for the contest is given a minus while the underdog is given a positive differential. The best way to explain this is through an example. 

Team Spread New York Knicks -3.5 LA Clippers +3.5 

If you bet on the New York Knicks for this game, you would need them to be victorious by at least four points to win money. The final game line you may consider using for your NBA Finals betting is Total Points. For this market you are trying to predict how many points will be scored by both teams combined. The points total will be predetermined by the sportsbook. All you need to do is choose whether the total points will be higher or lower. 

Player Markets 

The NBA Finals is often where the world’s best players take their game to the next level. If you think you have a sixth sense for predicting how they are going to perform this year there are various player markets to enjoy. For each Finals game bookmakers will offer over/under points bets for all of the NBA stars on display. These will be split into high and low markets for added flexibility. It is not just scorers you can bet on either. 

If you appreciate good defense, you will also be able to predict the amount of blocks, steals or rebounds each player will register during the game. 

Other Possibilities 

In terms of other possibilities, the three Game Lines bets can be placed on a specific quarter or half and various alternative points spread bets are also available. Another thing to keep an eye out for is one-off combi bets. US Sportsbooks who offer NBA Finals betting will be fiercely competing for new customers when the Playoffs draw to a close. To entice players in, they are likely to offer special betting offers. These will often have enhanced odds or be credited as a free bet, making them a great way to make the most of your money when the Finals roll around. And while watching the Finals, make sure to get your coupons for all your preferred products.


The Mind-Shuttering Odds of Getting a Perfect March Bracket


You have a one in 500,000 chance to be struck by a lightning in any given year, a one in 14 million chance of winning the lottery, a one in 55,000,000 chance of having quintuplets, and even less chance of getting the perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. 

Millions of people fill up their NCCA Tournament brackets every year, and not even a single one of these brackets ever get lucky. It doesn’t matter if you are a college football aficionado who has put in months of research in potential champions or you are a regular guy attempting to pick winners at random. The chances are nearly certain that you will never even get close to a perfect March Madness bracket. 

Similar to sports betting attempts to nail the perfect bracket is now a huge part of enjoying the NCAA Tournament. If you look at the odds of correctly nailing all the 63 games – which no one has ever done, you will understand why it is a near-impossible task. If you want to correctly pick all 63 games randomly, then you are staring at a one in 9, 223, 372, 036, 854, 775, 808. 

This is a one in a 9.2 quintillion chance. To put it into more perspective, there are 292 billion years in 9.2 quintillion seconds. It is not possible for anyone to fill all the 63 brackets randomly. However, you will be surprised that the odds of going 63 of 63 are enhanced if you have some knowledge and experience in college football. 

In 2020, data from the Brackets challenge was used by NCAA to determine that an average player has a one in 120.2 billion chance of getting a perfect bracket. Think about becoming a professional basketball player for example. Typically, about 540,000 players take part in men’s high school basketball. Out of this huge number, just one in 35 will proceed to play basketball in college, and less than one in 75 will proceed to get drafted to the NCAA. 

This implies that the chances of a high school basketball player making it to the NBA, is a mere one in 3, 300. Sounds unlikely, right? But this is still 36 million times more likely than getting a perfect bracket. Secondly, consider the chances of being dealt a royal flush. This is normally the rarest hand in a game of five-card poker, and the chance is always one in 854, 318. 

Well, when compared to getting the perfect bracket, this is 185,000 times more likely to happen. For you to be struck by lightning, you will have to be the unlucky one among one million people – odds of one in a million, yet, this is 120,000 times more likely than nailing the perfect bracket. And, for you to get hit by a meteorite from space, you will have to be the unlucky one among 1.6 million people – one to 1.6 million chance. 

But this is 75,000 more likely to happen than you getting the perfect bracket. Finally, winning the Lotto Max Jackpot offers a one in 33.3 million chance. This is 3610 times more likely than nailing the perfect bracket, and for you to have quintuplets, there is a one in 55 million chance, which is 2185 times more likely compared to getting the perfect bracket. 

However, the hunt for the perfect bracket is still on. This year, the majority of the people in search of the college football holy grail will be motivated by the exploits of Gregg Nigl. Gregg, in 2019, came closer to a perfect bracket than those before him, by managing to correctly predict the first 49 for 49 of the games. 

His streak ended in the Sweet Sixteen when Purdue beat Tennessee. This run was incredible, considering that the odds of getting just the first round of games right is about 17,000 to one. But that notwithstanding, getting the perfect bracket was still millions of miles away. For him to nail the last 15 games in the Sweet Sixteen, he had odds of one in 32, 786. 

So, maybe we will have to resign to the fact that we might never see anyone get the perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. This March, millions are going to scrutinize the starts and the seedings, only to get disappointed when their baskets are busted on the very first day. But, it only takes one, and that one could be you!

Five NBA Players to Watch in 2021



The New Year moves along and the new NBA season continues to make its tentative steps in a new sporting landscape. Things might look a little different around the court but some things never change as the best clubs and the best players look to rise to the top. 


The 2020/21 campaign is already starting to take shape and some key performers have already had their say. As the season continues to develop, we look at five players who could have a big part to play in the relative success of their franchises. 


James Wiseman: Golden State Warriors 


A giant center at 7 feet tall, James Wiseman had plenty of supporters ahead of his rookie season in the NBA and, so far, he’s been able to live up to the hype. Back in 2016 when he was just 15 years old, ESPN had already identified him as one of the top 25 players set to be recruited in 2019’s class and it was the Warriors who eventually sealed the deal.


At the age of just 19, Wiseman made his debut for Golden State against the Brooklyn Nets on the very first day of the new NBA season. It wasn’t the best start to the campaign for his new team as the Warriors went down by 99-125 but their new center impressed, scoring 19 points, while claiming six rebounds and two steals. 


Caris LeVert: Brooklyn Nets 


The Nets have made a fast start to the new NBA season and many are watching them with interest. They’ve never won the NBA Championship and the last of only two Conference titles came back in 2003 but a strong roster means that they are widely tipped for glory this time. 


One of the men looking to drive this Brooklyn team to success is Caris LeVert who tends to go under the radar in a team that contains Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. At 26, that’s the story of LeVert’s career but he’s happy to go quietly about his business, scoring vital points, while the big names get the headlines. 


And it’s all working: nba betting sites listed on sbo.net have the Nets available as clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference. The team are second to the Lakers in the overall championship betting and Caris LeVert will help to underpin this side as they aim to deliver on those predictions. To see if they succeed, check sbo.net as they update those odds while offering news and opinion on the developing season. 


Michael Porter Jr: Denver Nuggets 


As the 14th overall draft pick back in 2018, Michael Porter Jr’s pro career had an unheralded start but he’s built steadily since then and is widely tipped for great things this season. In two years, he’s yet to nail a regular start for the Nuggets but his stats from the bubble suggest that his time may well have come. 


An average of 22 points per game is an impressive one and that includes a high of 37 points. He’s still only 22 and with Denver high in the NBA Standings in the Western Conference, Porter is set for a major contribution in another long and grueling season. 


Patrick Williams: Chicago Bulls 


Back to our list of rookies now and we come to a man who enjoyed a stunning career at college level. Having impressed for Florida State, Patrick Williams was added to the Chicago Bulls roster, ahead of the 2020/21 campaign and he’s made a steady start at pro level. 


The 19 year old started the game against Atlanta Hawks on December 23rd, claiming a respectable 16 points in a 104-124 loss. With four rebounds, an assist and a steal, it was a confident start and, while it didn’t quite set the NBA alight, there is much more to come from this impressive player. 


RJ Barrett: New York Knicks 


An average of 14.3 points per game may not sound like a big deal but that’s not a bad return for a rookie in a struggling side. The Knicks underperformed in 2020 and should be in line for a better campaign this time around. The fact that RJ Barrett shone in that disappointing season is a testament to his potential and there should be a big improvement in those stats as 2021 develops.

Building ’Superteams’ as Undoubted NBA Fashion



Despite the fact that a type of teams that are called ’superteams’ (three or more All-Star caliber players teaming up) exist for a long time, the number of those that are formed and meet the criteria to be called that way has exponentially increased: Warriors, Cavs, Thunder, even attempts like the Celtics, Rockets, Pelicans, or Timberwolves. 

Many players with high-performance reputation have decided not to renew with their old teams to join these accumulations of stars named ’superteams’ rather than making the league interesting. What they cause with such decisions is a growing interest in a few franchises and the ignorance of the rest of the teams, which remained without their stars and attention. Irving - Hayward (not forgetting Horford and young Tatum and Brown), Harden - Paul, Cousins - Davis... 

The thing is that some ’superteams’ came off like a big hit from the first moment, like Warriors or Rockets, others have had a hard time in the beginning, like the Cavs, and others had zero chemistry causing them to make results below predictions or worrying results, like the Thunder. Of course, chemistry is a key factor when it comes to whether a team is successful or not, and more so if we talk about the stars of the respective teams. Here is a small analysis of the three ’superteams’ we have now or up until recently in the NBA and a handful of interesting contenders. The above graphic from Betway shows some of the recent super teams that dominated the NBA. 

Warriors 

Despite all the hatred they arouse for being the ones who signed the “traitor” Durant and for dominating the league so easily, we must recognize something about the Warriors. Apart from making basketball fun to watch, they managed to fit ’pieces’ incredibly effectively into their system without changing it, while maintaining their winning scheme. The arrival of Durant, which could have been a fiasco due to his failure to blend into the team’s play of ’The Bay’, turned out to be a total success as he accepted the Warriors’ play as a native and contributed to the sweep in the playoffs. They have stepped on the brakes for now, but they are still a challenge for all rivals to beat them. 

Cavaliers 

After a tough failure that allowed them to learn that not everything can be won with comebacks of star players, the Cavaliers have taken on a Wade, eager to add one more title to his collection, and have formed one of the most renowned quintets in the NBA: Isaiah Thomas, Wade, LeBron, Love, and Tristan Thompson. Despite the injury of Isaiah and Love as a center after Thompson’s injury, the Cavs’ improvement has been tremendous after a dire and doubtful start. 

The leap in their quality was such that they managed to match the Cleveland franchise record for consecutive victories. With a completely reconstructed team, the Cavs acted as they had a lot to prove, being a very strong rival that could not be removed before the Finals, when they lost to the Warriors. 

Thunder 

Excitement, joy, enthusiasm, and a lot of mixed feelings were what OKC fans had when they found out that Paul George will be wearing the jersey of their team, while Carmelo’s arrival only increased high expectations. 

And these expectations had a solid ground given the current MVP was teamed up with one of the top players in the NBA and also a complete player at the time, who still had a lot to give to basketball. Regardless, the start has been hesitant and the ’ship’ did not seem to be straightening out but everyone in the club thought the patience was needed to let the chemistry kick. But it did not. These Thunder were not fearsome and they lost to Utah in the first round. 

Possibly the key between success and failure was is in the renewal of Paul George, given it was observed as the necessary ’equipment’ of the Thunder to win the ring and attract more stars. However, the following season ended for the team the same way as the last – with the elimination already on the first step of the Playoffs. 

Celtics 

In Boston, things have changed so much at once - signing Hayward, the most requested free agent, and trading Thomas and Crowder for Irving, which resulted in reaching the Conference Finals. Much has been talked about the ’big three’ that Hayward and Irving could have formed, which coincided with the explosion of young talents. Probably, if Gordon had not been injured, neither Brown nor Tatum would have so much prominence and, therefore, their season would not have been so spectacular. Both present and future look great for the Celtics. 

Rockets 

The first reactions to Chris Paul’s arrival in Houston were negative as there were players who were more suited to the Rockets style and who would not overshadow Harden’s work so much. To the surprise of some and the joy of many, the Rockets have started as a real rocket, staying at the top of the conference and with a Harden who won the MVP, turned to be a tough bone to crack to favorable Warriors in the Western Finals. To conclude, despite the marketing and the hypothetical success that comes with signing big stars and building a team full of them, the experiment does not always go well. There are many factors to consider, as well as players’ personalities and playing styles. 

What we all hope is that this trend of forming ’superteams’ will not continue to rise this much because it would completely spoil the interest in this wonderful league. For now, we can enjoy a league where, although less than before, the stars are evenly distributed to make this competition the most interesting and fought in the world of basketball. 

For more picks and predictions, check out the Betway Insider.