Last Updated Jan 23, 2023, 11:31 AM
NBA Championship Odds and Action Report
US Sports Betting Industry Expert
NBA championship odds aren't front and center for most of us, what with the NFL postseason on deck. But with the calendar now into 2023, odds to win the NBA Finals are getting a little more attention.
The Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics in the 2021-22 NBA Finals. But nearly three months into the season, the Celtics remain favorites in odds to win the 2022-23 NBA Finals.
BetMGM sports trader Halvor Egeland provides insights on NBA Finals odds and action. Check back throughout the season for updates.
Boston is atop BetMGM's NBA futures odds board, but the Celtics have slipped back just a bit over the past month. Jayson Tatum and Co. are now +400 to win it all, after sitting at a tidy +325 in mid-December. And although the C's are seeing their share of action, they aren't among the trendiest teams of late.
But guess who is? Defending NBA champion Golden State, despite being minus Stephen Curry the past few weeks, while he recovers from a shoulder injury.
"The Warriors turning things around recently while Steph is out may end up helping them in the long run," Egeland said. " Getting Klay Thompson going and some more experience for the younger guys should be very beneficial. They’ll have to figure out how to win on the road if they don’t climb back up to the top of the Western Conference."
Back in June, the Dubs opened as the +550 chalk at BetMGM. As of Jan6, Golden State is the +1000 co-fourth choice, along with the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns. But that's an improvement just from last week, when the Warriors were +1200. A five-game win streak finally has Golden State (20-19 SU) above .500.
"There’s no surprise bettors are interested in the Nets. There’s no denying their roster can compete with anyone when they actually play together," Egeland said. "The cohesion seems to have been working. We’ll write bets on any team that wins 12 straight, let alone a team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving."
Indeed, from Dec. 7-Jan. 2, Brooklyn ripped off 12 consecutive victories (8-4 ATS). At 25-13 SU, the Nets are tied for the NBA's second-best record, behind only Boston (27-12).
Denver is also 25-13 SU, tied with Memphis for the best mark in the Western Conference.
"Since we’re in Colorado, we’ll always see a decent amount of action on the Nuggets. But it doesn’t hurt that they’re first in the West," Egeland said. "Nikola Jokic is playing at an MVP level every night and normally would be a heavy favorite, but there’s a new 50-plus-point scorer every single night, it seems."
Ticket Takers and Money Makers
Golden State remains No. 1 in ticket count and money in BetMGM's NBA championship odds market, with the Celtics close behind in ticket count at No. 2.
But the Nuggets now check in at No. 3 in tickets, while the New Orleans Pelicans are No. 3 in money. Denver, which opened +1400 in NBA Finals odds, is not much shorter at the moment, sitting as the +1300 co-seventh choice with the Grizzlies. New Orleans (24-14 SU) opened +4000 and is now into +2000.
"The Warriors and Nuggets would be bad results for us, but that was already the case before the recent uptick in bets," Egeland said. "The Celtics would still be a great result for us, due to their short odds. I can’t say the same for the Pelicans."
Egeland noted a Nets championship is one of the better realistic outcomes for BetMGM at the moment. Then he moved on to the larger liabilities for the book.
"The Kings still are our biggest liability, so we’ll be cheering against seeing The Beam come playoff time," Egeland said, alluding to the purple beam that lights up the Sacramento sky after each victory. "The Pelicans, Warriors and Lakers would be the next-worse outcomes for us."
Sacramento is a surprising 20-17 and actually leads the Pacific Division as of Jan. 6. The Kings opened as massive 750/1 long shots and are now 150/1, but that's still among the bottom half of the league in odds to win the NBA Finals. LeBron James and the L.A. Lakers (17-21) opened +2200 and are quickly sliding the wrong way, now at +8000, though that's an improvement from the Lakers' recent 100/1 odds.
The Milwaukee Bucks (25-13 SU) are BetMGM's best outcome, even while taking the fourth-most tickets and fifth-most cash. The lack of liability stems from the Bucks' short odds, currently at +550 – second only to Boston – after opening +800.
Egeland said the Philadelphia 76ers (23-14 SU) are BetMGM's second-best result, followed by the Celtics. Philly is at +1800, off a few ticks from its +1400 opener.
Flying Under the Radar
Last month, Egeland pointed to the Memphis Grizzlies as a team he's enthused by, but others really weren't at the time. He continues to stand by Ja Morant and Co. who sit at +1300, just above their opening price of +1400.
"We're just not seeing the interest in the Grizzlies," Egeland said. "They’re currently tied with the Nuggets for the West's No. 1 seed, but for some reason, Memphis hasn’t interested bettors."
Similarly, as good as Jokic and Denver have been, Nuggets action has been underwhelming in BetMGM's NBA championship odds market.