Updated: Jan 14
Before the NBA begins the Play-In tournament and then the 16-team Playoffs, we want to look at some of the teams who are top contenders:
Brooklyn Nets (+250)
The Nets are the betting favorite and it’s not hard to see why with their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn’s biggest issue has been their inability to stay healthy, with each of their three stars missing significant amounts of games during the season. If they can stay healthy, this team can contend for a title, even with limited playing time to develop team chemistry.
Los Angeles Lakers (+400)
Of all the teams with the best odds to win the title, the Lakers are the only one of them playing in the play-in tournament. The oddsmakers know what Playoff Bron can do. And it’s not just them. We just saw the Clippers lose games on purpose to some of the league’s worst teams in order to avoid this Lakers team in the first round. No need to worry about those play-in games either. If LeBron is healthy, and we think he is, we like his chances of leading this team to a repeat championship.
Los Angeles Clippers (+500)
We mentioned the Clippers losing games to avoid the Lakers, but they actually look to be the team with the best chance to beat them. This is not the same team that choked in the playoffs last season. Rajon Rondo will prove to be a key addition and another year of chemistry between Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can only help. At full strength, this is one of the best shooting teams in the league. Clippers fans want to see this team win a title and they have all the pieces to make it happen.
Utah Jazz (+700)
Utah finished with the best record in the league for the first time in franchise history. Utah is battling with some injury issues of their own and a lot of their success in the playoffs will depend on the health of Donovan Mitchell, but more generally, their success depends on their ability to play their unique style of basketball. In 2021, no team took more three pointers or less mid-range shots than the Utah Jazz. Time will tell if their positive results will continue against the league’s best defenses, but this team is a legitimate title contender.
Philadelphia 76ers (+700)
The story for the Sixers is not much different than the other teams listed here. After one of the shortest off-seasons in league history, the Sixer’s path to a NBA title is largely dependent on their health. MVP-candidate big man Joel Embiid has missed a significant amount of games this season, which is not uncommon for the injury-prone but talented big. While the Sixers have talented players in Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, the team struggles to score without Embiid on the floor. They could struggle to keep up with offensive juggernauts like the Nets. Still, the Nets have no answer for Embiid and this team will go as far as elite big man can take them.
*This preview does not represent our final picks for the playoffs. For our full set of picks, check out our Game Picks section!