NBA Season Restart: Odds for Eventual Champions
The National Basketball Association suspended its regular season in March when, like most leagues around the world, the outbreak of the coronavirus hit. Teams from the Eastern and Western Conference at the time still had 15-19 games left to play. However, on June 26th, plans were finalized to resume the season.
The NBA and National Basketball Players association finalized a deal that will see the remainder of the season return on July 31st. Reposts since then have placed the official restart date on July 30th, with the NBA Finals ending no later than October 13th. All of the remaining games will be held at Walt Disney World, with no spectators being allowed to attend.
Beginning on June 23rd, NBA players and staff will be tested for coronavirus. The players will then begin preparations for the league to return to play. The league expects players to arrive at the Orlando destination from July 7th to the 9th. The eventual NBA champion will be known by October 12th.
Season Ending Format
As planned by the league leadership, 22 teams will take part in the remainder of the season. There will be 13 teams from the Western Conference and nine teams from the Eastern Conference. In addition to the traditional 16 that were in playoff spots at the time of suspension, there will be six more teams added to the NBA playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs
Each of the teams will play eight games to determine playoff seeding. Like in every NBA postseason, eight teams from both the Western and Eastern Conferences will take part in the playoffs.
However, the 9th-place team in each conference will also have the opportunity to get into the playoffs, if the team in eighth place is no more than four games ahead.
If the team is less than four games ahead, there will be a play-in tournament of a two-game series between the two teams. The ninth-place team will have to win both of the games back to back in order to overtake the eighth place and playoff spot. Once the 16 teams are set, the playoff format will take place just like any other NBA postseason.
Betting on Conference Winners and NBA Champions
United States sportsbooks today are already offering bets on the winners of the Eastern and Western conferences. Unanimously throughout many of the sportsbooks, the bookmakers are giving the Milwaulkee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors the best chances to win the Eastern Conference.
Before the pause, Milwaukee was top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 53-12 record, and an .815 win percentage.
Toronto, on the other hand, was in second place in the conference and had gone on a run of four consecutive victories before the break.
The Boston Celtics held the third best record in the East before the lockdown. However, sportsbooks are giving approximately the same odds for Boston to win the Eastern Conference as for Toronto. In some sportsbooks, the team’s spot sits even higher than the Canadian team.
Before the forced break, the Lakers headed the table of the West and in general is considered to be one of the main contenders for the championship this season.
The Los Angeles Clippers before the coronavirus pause lagged behind their in-state rivals by five wins, in the conference standings, Leonard and company had a firm hold on second place.
The Denver Nuggets led the Northwest Division and were the third in the Western Conference standings. The team was a narrow 1.5 games behind the second-place Clippers. USA sportsbooks are putting the team as something of a longshot however, with high odds and behind the sixth-place Houston Rockets.
Both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks are the biggest favorites to win the NBA Championship. The odds margins between the two are extremely slim.