It’s not exactly the midpoint of the season, but the NBA will take its annual break for the All-Star game this weekend. Teams will play up through Thursday before getting a full six days off – unless you are part of the All-Star festivities – and resuming play on Thursday, Feb. 21.
With 70 percent of the games in the bag, teams will head down the season’s homestretch and either 1) make a push for the postseason or 2) tank and jockey for lottery standing in the 2019 draft. Here are your best bets to win the 2019 NBA title as well as a list of the most updated odds.
Was there any team in the NBA that helped themselves more at the trade deadline than the 76ers? Philadelphia added forward Tobias Harris to an already star-studded starting lineup. Harris averages 20.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and is the last piece of an NBA championship puzzle for Sixers GM Elton Brand.
7-footer Joel Embiid is nightmare especially when you have sharpshooter J.J. Redick on one wing and now Harris, a 43 percent 3-point shooter, on the other. With Ben Simmons (16.7 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 8.0 apg) and Jimmy Butler (18.9 ppg) creating, the Sixers now have the most talented lineup in the Eastern Conference.
The talent shows as the Sixers are the NBA’s third-highest scoring team putting up 115.9 points per game. Philadelphia should finish strong and earn a home playoff series in Round 1. The Sixers are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference. Home-court will help the Sixers who are just 13-14 on the road this season.
Did you read my article about Dealing With Trades?
The Bucks have played like an NBA champion all year long and own the league’s best record (42-14) heading into a Wednesday game at Indiana. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an absolute beast. He averages 27.1 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game … and he shoots 58 percent from the field.
Antetokounmpo has a solid supporting cast – Khris Middleton (17.1 ppg), Eric Bledsoe (16.0 ppg), and Malcolm Brogdon (15.7) – and the addition of Nikola Mirotic now makes the Bucks a nightmare to defend. Mirotic scores 16.7 points a game and can shoot from anywhere. Milwaukee has won eight of its last ten games and has the NBA’s largest point differential at +9.8. As the likely top seed in the East, the Bucks now have enough talent to compete with two-time defending champion Golden State, a -225 favorite to win it all.
The Raptors are yet another Eastern Conference team that upgraded at the trade deadline giving them a great shot at finally getting the NBA Finals. Toronto, which leads the Atlantic Division and is second in the conference standings, obtained the piece of the puzzle that could put them over the top – Marc Gasol.
Gasol comes to Toronto from Memphis and gives the Raptors a guy that can give you 16 points and nine rebounds per night as well as a guy who can defend the Sixers’ Embiid. Gasol can also shoot the 3-pointer and is a huge upgrade over Jonas Valanciunas.
With Kawhi Leonard (27.1 ppg), Kyle Lowry (14.3), and Pascal Siakam (15.6) in place, Gasol gives Toronto a chance at finally getting to the NBA Finals after getting bounced from the conference semifinals in each of the last two seasons.
One huge plus for Toronto is that they play well on the road. They are 19-11 away from home this season and have won games at Golden State, at Milwaukee, and at Philadelphia.
Other Teams to Watch
While not as attractive as the top three, there are a few other teams to keep an eye on. Boston checks in at +1150 and has All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving running the show. You cannot discount what James Harden is doing in Houston either. Harden is averaging 36.6 points per game and Houston’s odds to win the NBA title are now +1150. Oklahoma City (+2000) has Paul George (28.7 ppg) scoring like crazy and Russell Westbrook (21.2 ppg, 11.2 apg, 11.1 rpg) averaging a triple-double per game. Don’t count the Thunder out.
Here is an updated list from America’s Bookie of all 30 NBA team’s odds to win the NBA championship:
Golden State -225
LA Clippers +12500
LA Lakers +1750
New Orleans +12500
Oklahoma City +2000
San Antonio +5500
Article by Rick Bouch
Article posted on February 13th, 2019