Last Updated Mar 22, 2023, 9:44 AM

NBA Finals Betting Trends & Action Report

NBA Finals betting trends aren't front and center for most of us, with March Madness dominating the current landscape. But NBA championship odds continue to adjust as the season plows toward the playoffs.

Russell Westbrook landing with the Los Angeles Clippers hasn't had much impact on L.A.'s odds to win the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics are still favored to win it all, though the Phoenix Suns are closing in.

BetMGM sports trader Halvor Egeland provides fresh insights on NBA Finals odds, betting trends and action. Check back throughout the season for updates.

NBA Finals Odds

Clippers Slipping

Russell Westbrook hasn't yet amped up NBA Finals betting on the Clippers. (Getty)

Before the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers sent Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz. On Feb. 20, the Jazz bought out and proceeded to waive Westbrook. Finally, on Feb. 22, Westbrook returned to Tinseltown by signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The thought process was that a star of Westbrook's caliber, paired with fellow stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, might lead to a Clippers title. And perhaps that will still happen. But it hasn't done much to impact NBA Finals betting on the Clips. In fact L.A. has fallen down the odds board a bit, though it's still among the top several teams.

"Russell Westbrook quite frankly hasn’t made much of an impact on their outright odds," Egeland said. "At the deadline, we moved the Clippers from +1100 to +1000 as a result of picking up Mason Plumlee, Eric Gordon and Bones Hyland, only to go back to +1100 days later. Westbrook coming over after the buyout with the Jazz pretty much had the same impact initially – a short stint at +1000, only to go right back to +1100.

"Recently, we’ve pushed them out even further to +1500."

The Clippers are barely above .500, sitting eighth in the Western Conference. L.A. is seventh in BetMGM's NBA championship odds market, but recently went on a five-game losing streak.

"The Clippers have struggled recently, finding themselves only 1.5 games up on their roommates," Egeland said, alluding to the Lakers. "When it comes to Russ specifically, I believe his days of significantly moving the market are over. The Clippers would be a great result for us. We hope they can figure things out."

Playing Favorites

Kevin Durant could soon have the Suns atop the odds board in NBA Finals betting. (Getty)

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics remain atop the odds board, but the second choice Phoenix Suns are drawing closer. The Celtics are the +325 chalk, with the Suns now +400, and the Milwaukee Bucks are right there, as well, at +450.

At the moment, Egeland and the BetMGM risk team wouldn't mind a Celtics or Suns championship run.

"We’re still well-positioned on both the Suns and Celtics," Egeland said. "Our Arizona customers are certainly betting into the Suns after the Kevin Durant trade, but the cheap price is protecting us there. The only thing holding the Suns back from being the outright favorite is their current seeding (fourth). If they make their way up to the No. 2 seed, I think we’ll see the Suns take that top spot on the odds board."

Red-hot Milwaukee might also be moving more upward. The Bucks now have the NBA's best record (47-18 SU as of March 8) and are on a huge tear, winning 16 in a row as part of an18-1 SU stretch.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucks surpass the Celtics, as well, with the way the Bucks have been playing lately," Egeland said.

Trending Teams

Julius Randle and the Knicks are getting attention in the NBA Finals odds market. (Getty)

No surprise, Milwaukee is gaining popularity while playing like a house on fire. As such, the Bucks are on the rise in NBA Finals betting trends, as is a team that has frustrated its fans for years.

"The Bucks and the Knicks easily have had the most attention from bettors recently," Egeland said. "The Knicks will always be a public team, and any sign of hope will bring the action. Under two weeks ago, you could have had the Knicks to win the championship at 175/1. Since then, we’ve moved them into +8000."

That's as of March 8. And the Knicks are providing reasons for action and the move. New York (39-28 SU) recently went on a nine-game run, part of an overall 11-2 stretch. And as noted above, the Bucks are just torrid of late, but there's not nearly as much room for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. to move up.

"The Bucks' odds have not moved much yet, from +500 to +450. But +450 may be the best price bettors will be able to grab for the rest of the year," Egeland said. "If you like the Bucks, I’d suggest betting sooner rather than later. Those winning streaks certainly have had an impact on the public."

Ticket Takers and Money Makers

Klay Thompson and the Warriors are a trouble spot for BetMGM. (Getty)

Somehow, the Lakers (+3000) continue to lead the ticket count in BetMGM's NBA Finals odds market. Los Angeles is actually gaining a little ground, sitting ninth in the Western Conference playoff chase. But LeBron James is in the midst of an anticipated three-week absence due to a foot injury. That could make it difficult to stay in the top 10 in the West to at least get into the NBA play-in round.

The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors (+1100) are second in championship tickets, followed by the Celtics – Golden State's opponent in last year's Finals. The Denver Nuggets, currently the +700 fourth choice at BetMGM, lead the money count, with the Warriors second and the Lakers third.

"We’d love for the Bucks, 76ers or Grizzlies to take home the title," Egeland said. "But we’re pretty balanced for teams with a realistic chance to win the title, other than a few exceptions: the Warriors, Lakers and Kings. We’d gladly see those teams eliminated as fast as possible, as they hold much more liability than any other team."

Golden State is of course in the mix, even while sitting sixth in the West at the moment. Sacramento, currently a surprising second in the West, might be worrisome for BetMGM on paper, but the Kings are still 100/1 long shots in NBA championship odds. On the plus side for BetMGM, Philadelphia is certainly a legit contender at +1200, as is Memphis at +2000. Which brings us to ...

Flying Under the Radar

Grizzlies star Ja Morant is probably having a what-was-I-thinking moment. (Getty)

Egeland believes both the Sixers and Grizzlies aren't getting the attention they're due, though with a caveat for Memphis: star guard Ja Morant's current off-court issues.

As of March 8, Philly (43-22 SU) is third in the East, behind only Milwaukee and Boston. The 76ers are 9-2 over their past 11 games.

Memphis (38-26 SU) is tied for second in the West, but Morant is in the midst of sitting out at least six games after a video surfaced in which he brandished a gun at a Denver-area club. Police reportedly aren't filing charges, but the NBA could still levy a significant suspension, as could the team. For the moment, he's not in the lineup.

"The Sixers and Grizzlies are the teams I personally believe may be getting overlooked," Egeland said. "Obviously, the Ja Morant situation has to play itself out, and there’s a lot of uncertainty there. But that uncertainty is worked into the market. The Grizzlies are still the No. 2 seed in the West, and if Morant comes back, 20/1 is a great price for a team with home-court advantage up until the conference finals.

"The East is certainly top-heavy, and I consider Philly a part of that upper tier. The Sixers will certainly need to figure out how to beat the Celtics, who have had their number. But the Sixers are more than competent against the other top teams in the NBA."

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