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OPINION: Best futures bets for the remainder of the NBA season

The+Arizona+womens+basketball+team+is+coached+by+Adia+Barnes.+The+Arizona+mens+basketball+team+is+coached+by+Tommy+Lloyd.
Nathanial Stenchever

The Arizona women’s basketball team is coached by Adia Barnes, and the Arizona men’s basketball team is coached by Tommy Lloyd.

With the NBA playoffs less than two months away, we have seen enough basketball to make some projections for how the end of the season will shake out. There are plenty of futures betting markets to take a look at, including division winners, conference winners and, of course, the NBA champion. All odds presented in this article are courtesy of DraftKings.

Miami Heat to win the Southeast Division (-155):

Although these odds do not present too much value, I think Vegas is siding with the Miami Heat heavily to win its division for a reason. The Heat are a team that have been known to pick up its level of play as the season goes on. Led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, this team has proven over the years that they can compete with any team in the league, as they have made the NBA finals two times in the past four years.

Right before the all-star break, they added Terry Rozier, who will add a scoring boost for a team that’s weakness comes on the offensive side of the ball. As Rozier becomes more accumulated into the Miami Heat’s system, I predict that this offense will take a big step forward. 

Additionally, the Heat have the fifth easiest remaining strength of schedule. An experienced team like the Heat will take advantage of less talented teams. The only competition the Heat have when it comes to winning its division is the Orlando Magic. The Magic started off the season very well, but since the new year, they have been a slightly above average team with a record of 16-13.

The Magic lack experience and offensive prowess at times, as they rank 22nd in the NBA in offensive rating. The Heat have struggled with injuries all year, having put out at least  31 different starting lineups this year. They are now starting to get healthier, which solidifies them as the best team in this division.

Dallas Mavericks to win the Southwest Division (+190):

The Dallas Mavericks have the two best players in this division, Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. The Mavericks could be considered the winners of the trade deadline, as they added two new key pieces to help support Irving and Doncic. The Mavs traded for Daniel Gafford, who is on a shortlist of players that average at least two offensive rebounds and two blocks this season. The only other players on the list are Victor Wembanyama, Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis, Nic Claxton and Walker Kessler, who are all formidable players in the NBA.

The Mavericks also replaced Grant Williams, who reportedly was not loved by his teammates in Dallas, with power forward P.J. Washington. Washington is an upgrade from Williams, as Washington has averaged 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 31.9 minutes per game this season. The Mavericks only competition in the Southwest Division is the New Orleans Pelicans, who are two games ahead of the Mavs. Not only are the Mavs a better and more talented team, but they also have a much easier remaining schedule. The Pelicans rank in the top 10 when it comes to the hardest remaining schedule. The Mavs rank in the bottom 10. Take the plus odds to the bank and see your bet cash when the season comes to an end on April 14th.

Los Angeles Clippers to win the Western Conference (+250):

+250 is amazing value for the most well-rounded and talented team in the Western Conference. Tyronn Lue should be given more credit than he is given, as he has figured out a system that allows James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to play together effectively. Harden is one of the league’s best facilitators and has proven throughout his career to be one of the greatest scorers this league has ever seen.

Leonard and George are two of the best two-way players in the league and can both score effectively on all three levels. Their biggest challenge in the West will be the defending champions the Denver Nuggets. I give the Clippers the advantage in this matchup, as I feel its depth will prevail in a seven-game series. The Nuggets lost Bruce Brown to free agency this season, who played a crucial role in their NBA Finals run last year. The Clippers‘ role players, Terance Mann, Russell Westbrook and Norman Powell, provide depth for the Clippers and will play a key role in the Clippers’ playoff success.

Boston Celtics to win the Eastern Conference (-105) and the NBA Finals (+230):

The Boston Celtics are the most complete and talented team in the NBA, which is why I have them winning both the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals. You could make an argument that their starting five is the most complete starting five in NBA history. The starting five, which includes two new offseason additions in Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, is perfect for the modern-day NBA.

On the defensive side of the ball, they have four amazing perimeter defenders and a rim protector in the middle. Holiday and Derrick White were both All-NBA defenders last year. The Celtics are the lone team in the NBA with two All NBA defenders from last year. This defensive system has proven to be effective, as they rank 1st in the NBA in defensive rating.

Offensively, they play with incredible spacing as all of their starters shoot above 34% from the 3-point line. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two of the best perimeter scorers in the league, both averaging over 22 points per game. The rest of the starters all average in double figures as well, which is very rare and makes them incredibly hard to guard. This floor spacing and talented starting five has allowed them to also rank first in the NBA in offensive rating. The Celtics also have experience, as they made the conference finals in three of the past four years.

However, this Celtics team has never been able to get over the hump and win it all. The Celtics being close so many times but not prevailing makes them more hungry than ever.

The NBA season has flown by as we are already past the all-star break. We have now seen enough basketball to make some futures bets and predict the outcome of the NBA season.


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