Promotion Banner

The Best NBA Futures Bets for All Four Conference Finals Teams

The Best NBA Futures Bets for All Four Conference Finals Teams article feature image

Via Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers knock the ball out of the hands of Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets with LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers defending during the second half at Arena on October 30, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

And then there were four.

We’ve reached the NBA’s version of the Final Four, and it’s deja vu all over again. Say goodbye to that 2020 NBA Bubble asterisk because we’ve got the same four teams three years later to run it back with the Lakers vs. Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals and the Heat vs. Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It’s been a topsy-turvy playoffs. The team with the league’s best record went down in the opening round, and two Play-In Tournament teams are competing for a spot in the Finals.

We’ve been eyeing NBA futures all season, and the future is nearly here. So how should bettors attack the futures market so close to the finish line? If you like the Lakers or Celtics to win the title, what’s the best way to bet it? What about the Nuggets or Heat? Let’s dig in.

Miami Heat

If you believe in the Heat, you’re in luck because no team has more value on the number at this point.

Miami is a massive underdog to the Celtics, barely 16% implied to win a rematch between two teams that took it all the way to a missed Jimmy Butler shot in Game 7 last year for a spot in the Finals. The Heat are also being priced as big potential underdogs against either West team.

So how do the Heat win? They’ve got the best coach in any series in Erik Spoelstra, a huge advantage. They’ve also got a guy in Butler who has played at every stage and can be the best player in any moment in any game. The Heat have been terrific in the clutch all year, now 15-8 in three-point games, and they turn games into 3-point shootouts which can lead to huge swings in shot variance.

There’s no unbeatable team left. In any one series, the Heat can win one game with coaching, one Butler game, one shot variance night, and one they steal in the clutch late. Four gets a series, and no team left has a slam dunk advantage against them. Believe it or not, the 8-seed Miami Heat are live to win the title.

I see a ton of value on Miami futures this round against the badly overpriced Celtics, either to keep it close or maybe even win the series outright. I like Miami +2.5 and +1.5 on the series or even to win it, and Jimmy Butler at +450 (bet365) to win Eastern Conference Finals MVP looks like a great way to play that.

I’ll stay away from Butler to win MVP in the Finals or anything too fancy though. At +1700, Butler has to win MVP in 94% of all Heat title wins, priced at +1600, to have value. It’s hard to see anyone but Butler winning MVP in a Heat championship, but are you sure Bam Adebayo didn’t have a big series or that a Heat shooter didn’t get hot for a week? Are you positive Nikola Jokic or LeBron James didn’t have a huge series in a losing effort and steal the MVP?

When the odds are this long at +1600, it’s just not worth playing with fire and risking a loss for an extra +100. If you think the Heat win it all, just keep it simple and bet the title odds.

How to Bet the Heat: +1600 to Win the Title (DraftKings)

Boston Celtics

The Heat have the best value on the number, but that’s mostly because Boston is such a big favorite.

The Celtics are effectively even odds to win the title, despite being the one team on this list to play most recently with their season on the line in a Game 7. Boston was one of the title favorites all year, and the Celtics have so much liability that the books are pricing them out at this point. That makes it hard to bet a Boston title future in good faith since the number just isn’t in our favor.

If you do want to bet on a Celtics title, just the title odds probably aren’t worth the squeeze.

You could go for an exact finish. I like Denver more in the West, and Boston would be the most complete team the Nuggets have faced in the playoffs with an elite defense to match a very good offense. Boston over Denver is +230, implying around 60% for a Celtics win if that’s the Finals. That’s not a bad number for the more complete team that would have home court advantage.

However, your best Celtics bet might be Finals MVP.

Jaylen Brown looks awfully tempting at +950 (FanDuel). He only has to win MVP in about 20% of all Celtics titles to be a good bet. Jayson Tatum is far shorter at +160 (DraftKings), and he has to win Finals MVP in just over 80% of all Celtics championship wins to have value.

I still think Tatum is the right play. Theoretical value is great, but Jim Turvey’s work on Finals MVP shows that the award overwhelmingly goes to the leading scorer and best player on the winning team. That’s Tatum. Look back at the last seven series wins for Boston in the playoffs. Tatum is the leading scorer for the Celtics in all of them, and he’s the clear MVP in at least six of the seven, and likely all seven.

I’d still caution you to wait. The Celtics run hot and cold, and Tatum does too. You can probably wait for a better spot to buy the dip, but Tatum to win Finals MVP looks like the right Celtics bet when you’re ready.

How to Bet the Celtics: Wait to Bet Jayson Tatum Finals MVP (+160 DraftKings)

Los Angeles Lakers

If we’re getting a 2020 NBA Bubble repeat, that’s certainly good news for the Lakers. They rode two superstar performances in Anthony Davis and LeBron James plus just the right complementary pieces stepping up in the right moments to that bubble title.

The Lakers are priced at +320 to win the title, an implied 23.8%. I don’t see a ton of value on that number, especially since it would mean Los Angeles needing to win two more road series — yes, even against Miami — with those two stars taking on more and more mileage.

If you do like the Lakers to win the title, which one of those stars would win Finals MVP?

The easy narrative answer is LeBron James. He’s been Finals MVP in all four of his title wins, and it’s hard to imagine a world where the voters would really vote against The King. But would he even be the MVP of the playoffs so far for Los Angeles? James is arguably having his worst postseason ever with his second-lowest points per game and assists per game of his career. He also has posted the lowest Usage Rate of his playoff career, and that foot injury seems to be limiting him.

Davis was unquestionably the star in the Western Conference Semifinals with series-changing defense against the Warriors. If the Lakers win the title, it will have to mean Davis beating Jokic head to head, likely outplaying him at both ends. It will also mean LeBron facing a tough matchup in the Finals in either Butler or Tatum while Davis has the much better matchup and a far more important defensive role.

If the Lakers are to win the title, Anthony Davis will have to play like and deserve Finals MVP.

But here’s the wild thing: both James and Davis are priced at +950 at FanDuel, an implied 9.5%. That means we can split our bet and get both LeBron and Brow at 19.0%, effectively +425 for a Lakers ticket only available otherwise at +320. I mean, come on, are they giving Finals MVP to D’Angelo Russell or Austin Reaves, or to someone not on the world champion Los Angeles freaking Lakers?

Don’t kid yourself. Split your bet on Davis and James. Feel free to weight it in either direction if you’re swayed one way, but play both ends, and your Lakers position is covered. You might even have a chance to win your wager in a losing Finals effort.

How to Bet the Lakers: Bet Both James +950 and Davis +950 for Finals MVP (FanDuel)

Denver Nuggets

I see some value on the Nuggets in this Western Conference Finals, and Denver still appears to have value in a potential Finals. Denver has the best player in the world right now in Nikola Jokic, and Jokic controls the game like few in history have, giving his team a chance in every game.

It’s impossible to imagine Jokic not winning Finals MVP in a Nuggets championship. There’s a world where Jamal Murray goes off in a frenzy of jumpers and edges Jokic in scoring, but that’s not been the case so far, and Jokic is a huge favorite to lead in rebounds and assists, and likely points.

Jokic also has a huge narrative advantage. He’s a two-time MVP, and many will feel he should be the three-time MVP, especially after the end of Joel Embiid’s season. This would be the crowning achievement for the best player in the league. They’re robbing Jokic of another MVP? No way.

Of course, the books know that too. We’re barely getting an edge at +260 (BetMGM) for Finals MVP versus +240 (DraftKings) for a Denver title. Jokic has to win MVP in 94% of Denver titles — or maybe more like 90%, plus a few spare percents for a potential losing MVP effort where he leads all players in points, rebounds and assists. That would be a pretty strong case, especially against a relatively balanced Celtics team.

One other bet I like: Nuggets over Heat at +1800 (Circa). If Miami and Denver are the teams with futures value this round, that makes a Finals matchup between them even more valuable. I like the Nuggets a lot in that matchup, with just too much Denver offense and no real Miami answer for Jokic. That +1800 is far too long, and I’d price it shorter than half that number.

How to Bet the Nuggets: Nikola Jokic Finals MVP +260 (BetMGM) | Nuggets Over Heat +1800 (Circa)

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.