2021-22 NBA championship opening odds and best bets: Bucks, Suns not expected back in finals

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks during the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game four of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum
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Ricky Dimon

NBA

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Given that the NBA season has ended a month later than normal (albeit three months earlier than last year’s conclusion!), it isn’t too early to start preparing for the next one. While the Milwaukee Bucks celebrate their championship, it’s time for us to immediately look ahead at the odds for the 2021-22 NBA title. Will the Bucks and Phoenix Suns run it back in the NBA Finals? Can the Utah Jazz build on their regular-season success? Were the Atlanta Hawks a postseason fluke, or are they the real deal? Will the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers lick their various wounds and live up to their talent levels?

Milwaukee, we’re happy for you and we’re gonna let you finish with an appropriate celebration, but let’s go ahead and take a look at what may be in store for next season.

2021-22 NBA Championship odds

Unsurprisingly, the Nets are favored to win it all at +250. The Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden never really gelled in 2021. Harden arrived after the season had already begun, Durant was coming back from a torn Achilles’, and Irving’s tumultuous 2020-21 campaign came to an end with an injury in the playoffs. If all three of those guys can stay on the court, Brooklyn boasts the most talent in the business.

As usual with the Lakers, only LeBron James and Anthony Davis are untouchable heading into the offseason. If another relatively sizable piece can be added to form a Big 3 of sorts, L.A. can make a run at another Larry O’Brien trophy. Of course, neither LeBron nor A.D. is getting any younger and they are perhaps not getting any healthier.

The Bucks and Suns come in next at +800 and +900, respectively. If that can be perceived is disrespect, in Milwaukee’s case it is because the Nets should be fully loaded. Brooklyn probably would have won its East semi-final series against Milwaukee had Irving not gone down with a sprained ankle. In Phoenix’s case, Chris Paul is already 36 years old and you have to think Western Conference rivals won’t suffer as many injuries in 2021-22 as they did this season (although Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers already has a partially torn ACL).

2021-22 NBA best bets

At +800, I am happy to get back on the Bucks’ bandwagon. Giannis Antetokunmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are all still firmly in their prime and the competition level in the East could remain unspectacular. Even when Brooklyn was physically fine, head coach Steve Nash’s team underwhelmed. Mentally they never had it, and you never know about Irving’s mental state. Philadelphia may be on the way down and Atlanta could be another year away — or just not quite talented enough to get over the hump. At +3300, though, the Hawks could be worth a longshot play.

Another underdog worth looking at is the Denver Nuggets at +3000. Denver was one of those banged-up teams that Phoenix disposed of in the postseason. If Jamal Murray returns to 100 percent at some point during the 2021-22 regular season, the Nuggets may be a well-oiled machine come playoff time.

Pickswise is the home of free expert NBA Picks and Predictions, and we offer so much more. Be sure to also check out our daily NBA Prop Bets and NBA Parlays throughout the 2021-22 season

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