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Nets emerge as NBA title favorite, but Knicks still betting underdogs to make playoffs

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Julius Randle New York Knicks
New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) grabs a rebound in front of Mitchell Robinson (23) and Dallas Mavericks forward Christian Wood during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

We’re almost halfway done with the NBA season and the NBA Championship odds have seen some movement with the Nets now emerging with the second-best odds of any team. 

Coming into the season, the Nets were tied with the Warriors and Clippers for the third-best odds at +700. While Brooklyn started its season with the drama of Ben Simmons’ injuries and Kyrie Irving’s off-court promotion of anti-semitic rhetoric, the team has found its groove of late, winning 12 straight games and standing just a half-game back of the Celtics for the best record in the NBA

Sportsbooks have responded, with the Nets now leapfrogging Milwaukee and up to +550 odds to win the NBA title. Below you can see the chart of where the odds stand, as of January 4th, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. 

Team Current Odds Preseason Odds
Boston Celtics +380 +600
Brooklyn Nets +550 +700
Milwaukee Bucks +650 +650
Golden State Warriors +800 +700
Los Angeles Clippers +900 +700

Given Brooklyn’s performance of late, it’s easy to understand the temptation to throw some bets on them to win it all. 

Over the last calendar month, they have the best winning percentage in the NBA, are scoring 121.1 points per game (most in the NBA), shooting 54.6% from the field (best in the NBA), and have the best Net rating in the NBA. For all intents and purposes, they have been the best team in the NBA by a considerable margin. 

If you believe Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can both stay healthy and avoid off-court drama then a bet on the Nets to raise the trophy at the end of the year makes some sense while the odds are still +550.

However, if you were not as convinced about that, you could bet them at +250 to have the most regular season wins in the NBA or even bet the Atlantic Division to make the NBA Finals at +155, which means you’d win if either Boston or Brooklyn advance to the title round. 

On the other hand, while the sportsbooks seem to be bullish on the Nets, they are not quite convinced about the Knicks, even with the team’s recent turnaround. 

Since December 1st, the Knicks are 3rd in the NBA in Net rating, thanks to having the second-best defensive rating and seventh-best offensive rating. They also have the best rebounding rate in the league and are tied for the fifth-best winning percentage over that time after going 10-6. 

Yet, the sportsbooks still have New York at +120 to make the playoffs. 

The Knicks do sit at -165 to participate in the play-in tournament, which means the sportsbooks believe they will be one of the top 10 teams in the Eastern Conference, but they are not as confident on anything else. However, the Knicks are currently just one game behind the Pacers for the 6th seed in the conference and an automatic birth in the postseason, so they are certainly in the thick of the race. 

Given New York’s performance over the last month, I think a small bet on them at +120 to make the playoffs makes a decent amount of sense.

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Nets Kevin Durant
Kevin DurantAP Photo/Frank Franklin II

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