The NBA All-Star break is the perfect time for every team to rest and recalibrate their game plan for the stretch run of the season. Every year, a few teams make a surprise run that can parlay into a strong playoff push.
This list will compromise 5 NBA teams that the oddsmakers may be miscalculating about, providing a prime opportunity to make some dough.
The defending champs are currently sitting with the fourth-best chance to win the NBA Finals on most premier sportsbooks, with Draft Kings having them at a staggering +750 odds. Milwaukee certainly has a much more significant challenge to repeat this year, with the year the Suns have had and Golden State regaining Klay Thompson. Milwaukee’s main threat in the east Brooklyn also shook things up at the deadline, with the Harden for Simmons swap. However, Simmons has not played all year, and there is no telling what player will show up. They also have had no chance to develop any chemistry, with Kyrie and KD having to sit out extended periods of time due to injury and vaccine mandates.
There are other threats in the east, such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat. However, the Sixers fall into the same category as Brooklyn in terms of the unknown of how their new talent will mix. The Heat have proved to be formidable and scrappy, but the Bucks currently hold the season series over them at 2-1. Ultimately, the Bucks have a strong chance of coming out of the east.
The Suns or Warriors still have to beat Giannis in a 7-game series. Antetokounmpo has proven he has what it takes to win a championship and would arguably be the best closer in either of those series. Perhaps Milwaukee is undervalued due to smaller market appeal, but it certainly gives their odds a good value.
Los Angeles Lakers
If you’re looking for a higher risk, higher reward team to go with, then you cannot overlook the LA Lakers. They are currently sitting at +4200 on FanDuel and +4500 on Draft Kings to win it all.
Although the Lakers have been one of the most heavily scrutinized and disappointing storylines of the season, there are a few key reasons you could never count them out. Firstly, the most obvious reason is LeBron James. James is still playing at an MVP level, averaging roughly 29 points 8 rebounds, and is good for almost 7 assists a night. The Lakers main concern has always been health, with Anthony “Street Clothes” Davis known to miss extended periods of time. It doesn’t help that their role players have also been compared to a retirement home and that they are the oldest team in the league with an average age of 31.
The Russell Westbrook experiment has also been a failure, to say the least. However, it is not inconceivable that they can go on a run if they can get healthy at the right time. They still possess some key elements to success in the postseason, such as experience, talent, and veteran leadership. In the end, they could be worth a couple of bucks as a longshot.
The New York Knicks
The Knicks have been very disappointing after their feel-good story of overachieving last season. For them to win over 35.5 games currently sits at +110 on DraftKings. At 25-34, they would have to win 11 of the remaining 23 games. They do have the fourth hardest strength of schedule remaining. However, these odds are not considering the return of key players and, more importantly, closer Derrick Rose. Rose was the catalyst of the Knicks success last season when they acquired him from Detroit in a midseason trade.
The bench unit and the team, in general, have sorely missed his presence, especially with the injury woes suffered at the Point Guard position. The Knicks have also desperately needed Rose’s abilities as a playmaker in the clutch with their propensity of fumbling leads and losing close games. His veteran leadership and calming presence have also been missed on a team short of a true leader. Don’t be surprised if the Knicks go on a run with Rose’s return and hit that over while it’s still there.
On FanDuel, the Nuggets currently are +550 to win the Northwest Division, with the Jazz being the favorites. The Nuggets were only three games behind the Jazz during the all-star break. These odds are surprising given Nuggets all-star Jokic is still playing at an All-NBA and potentially MVP level, averaging 26 Points, 14 Rebounds, and eight assists on the season.
How The NBA Schedule Affects Denver
The strength of the schedule also favors Denver. They have the 23rd most challenging remaining schedule, while the Jazz has the 5th hardest. Also, the Nuggets will only get better. Joker’s co-star and playoff hero Jamal Murray is set to make his return sometime in March. Not to mention key contributor Michael Porter Jr. who is also looking to return sometime next month. With all these factors considered, the Nuggets stand poised to close out the season strong and may grab that division title on the way.
On DraftKings, the Pacers over of 29.5 games for the remainder of the season stands at a +120. They were sellers at the deadline, shipping off two-time all-star Domantas Sabonis to the Kings and starting guard Caris LeVert to Cleveland. Currently, at 20 wins, the Pacers would have to win 10 of their remaining 22 to meet the over. Although they traded key players, their haul is nothing to scoff at, receiving two lottery picks, Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Smith, in return. Not to mention 3-pt specialist Buddy Hield from Sacramento. Haliburton has looked excellent in the small four-game sample size he’s been able to play so far.
Smith has been shooting hot from three too, and they stand poised to grow stronger with the returns of Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon imminent. Couple this with them having the easiest remaining schedule in the league, and the possibility of winning ten more games seems very plausible. Although it wouldn’t be huge winnings, it could be considered a pretty solid bet in terms of safety.