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NBA Championship Odds & Futures: Ranking the Exact Title Outcomes for the 2021 NBA Finals

NBA Championship Odds & Futures: Ranking the Exact Title Outcomes for the 2021 NBA Finals article feature image

Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Phoenix leads 2-1, but the Clippers are no strangers to staging an impressive comeback. The Hawks pulled off their third Game 1 stunner. And yet the Bucks and Suns remain favorites to win the NBA title.

We're down to four teams, but what are the best odds on the exact Finals outcome at BetMGM? Here's a look for our NBA Bet Futures Friday.

1. BUCKS TO BEAT SUNS (+250): If the Suns and Bucks advance as they are favored to do, it's very likely the Bucks will be slight favorites and that the money will pour in on the Suns. Phoenix will have beaten the mighty Lakers and Clippers, with a sweep of the Nuggets in between.

But a few things to consider here: The Suns are currently struggling with the minutes Ivica Zubac is on the floor. The Clippers have outscored the Suns by 30 with Zubac on the floor vs. Deandre Ayton. Brook Lopez is a considerable upgrade from Zubac on both ends of the floor.

The Bucks also have the athletic wing defenders to challenge the Suns in Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo being free to play free safety or play Devin Booker.

Meanwhile, offensively, the Suns would definitely have a good matchup with Ayton defending Antetokounmpo in space and Chris Paul battling in pick and roll. But the athleticism and scoring presented by the Bucks would make them rightful favorites.

Finally, the Suns' run needs context, even though they've played phenomenally. The Suns have been healthy outside of missing Chris Paul for two games due to health and safety protocol. They have played the Lakers without Anthony Davis, the Nuggets without Jamal Murray and the Clippers without Kawhi Leonard. Even though the matchup advantages the Suns have shown would still exist to a degree, that has to be factored in when evaluating how good the Suns are.

I would like the Bucks to win that series. The bigger question, quite honestly, is if the Bucks can hit enough shots to beat the Hawks down 0-1.

2. BUCKS TO BEAT CLIPPERS (+950): Note, this is not what I think is the second most likely outcome, it is the best value on the board. The Bucks shot absolutely horrifically, even for them, in Game 1 vs. Atlanta. If their shooting profile is anywhere near normal, they win that game comfortably, and this number is shorter.

Meanwhile, the Clippers got the first one. They've been down 0-2 twice before in these playoffs and won both. The Clippers also hung in both those games despite a 40-point triple-double from Devin Booker in Game 1 and an outrageous two-game set from Cameron Payne. It took the Valley Oop to beat the Clippers in Game 2. They are in this series.

Plus, there's Kawhi Leonard. If he somehow comes back late in this series (think Game 5), then the Clippers are absolutely live. Again, the Clippers are winning those minutes with Ivica Zubac on the floor. That's massive. If the Suns can't play big, that opens up a lot more opportunities for the Clips. They're not going to bench Ayton (and he hasn't been the problem; the Suns are shooting terribly on jumpers with Zubac on the floor).

So if the Bucks get past and the Clippers do what they've done twice before, the Bucks get a team that may not have Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers shoot a metric ton of threes, but their defense is a lot easier to manipulate and attack. The Clippers would try and play smallball with Marcus Morris at the 5 vs. Brook Lopez, but the Bucks have already shown a willingness to go smaller with Giannis Antetokounmpo or P.J.Tucker at the 5.

The Clippers would make it a long series, but with Kawhi, the Clippers are likely favored in that series. Without him, they'd be a good bet in series spread, but I like the Bucks to win the series outright, especially at +950.

3. CLIPPERS TO BEAT BUCKS (+1500): Take everything I said above and just focus on the shooting part. The Bucks have shot lower than expected based on shot quality in all their playoff losses the last two years. This is what happens to them.

So if they face the team that set NBA records for 3-point percentage in the regular season, that can be a recipe for disaster. If Kawhi Leonard returns, which, again, is an unknown variable, they'll have Paul George and Kawhi as tough shot makers vs. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who seem to take turns essentially shooting like they are blindfolded while on mescaline.

We've got the Suns who have two unlikely wins given context in this series and a solid loss in Game 3, and then the Bucks who should beat the Hawks, but the Clippers have offensive firepower and a better defense than Atlanta, and we've got it at 15-1. What a redemptive arc for Paul George that would be.

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4. SUNS TO BEAT HAWKS (+350): The Suns are still up 2-1 and have a lot of ways to improve how they've played in the first three games. They haven't played well and are still up 2-1. They're still favored to win the series.

Meanwhile, Atlanta has already won Game 1. Teams who win Game 1 of the conference finals on the road are 28-11 all-time via

The Hawks have Trae Young who has been the best player in the Eastern Conference playoffs so far (with apologies to Kevin Durant). He can punish Brook Lopez with the floater. He can punish switch coverage with his passing. He can pass out of the blitz and has shooters in Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter ready to fire.

There are a lot of ways for the Hawks to win this series simply by putting more pressure on the Bucks' defense while Milwaukee (again) underperforms in shooting efficiency.

But against the Suns, they face a better shooting team, with a smallball lineup with Dario Saric to use as a counter, and Deandre Ayton to help contain the lob to Capela. The Suns have enough firepower to carve up the Hawks' defense and the perimeter defenders to bother Young and the other shooters. Defensively, they can switch more than the Bucks are comfortable with.

The only reason I don't have this higher is +350 feels light to me. The Hawks are +165 right now vs. the Bucks at BetMGM for 37% implied odds, the Suns are -450 for 82% implied. Just the matchup itself should be +233-ish. (It's +225 at BetMGM.) If the Suns were -250 next round that should put these odds closer to +370. It's not way off, it's just a little light, which affects the ranking.

5. SUNS TO BEAT BUCKS (+250): This is one where you might as well wait. These odds are shorter with the Bucks down 0-1 going into Friday night. The Bucks were the favorites to win the title when both series began, then the Suns became title favorites when the Hawks won Game 1.

So if the Bucks were to advance, they would be favorites again. It might not be at +250, but you won't have the concern over the Hawks series looming. If this price were longer, it would be higher on account of the Suns' ability to present shooting problems and have Ayton punish their smallball lineups while Dario Saric plays Brook Lopez off the court.

I don't like the matchup, but the Suns are as good as the Clippers.

6. CLIPPERS TO BEAT HAWKS (+1500): They're both dogs for a reason. If Kawhi Leonard is suddenly announced in for a later game, then this would be a better bet. If you think the Hawks will upset the Bucks, especially after that Game 1 win, and you think the Clippers are live, this is a great number at 15-1.

You can even hedge with Clippers to beat Hawks against a Bucks title future.

However, the Clippers are also +700 straight up to win the title right now, and you don't have to worry about Bucks-Hawks. So if you don't want to worry about the Bucks handling business (for once) or the Hawks pulling off their second straight massive upset, you can just go that route. To put it another way, if you think the Clippers can/will win the Suns series, it's better to bet the Clippers title odds.

7. HAWKS TO BEAT SUNS (+900)/HAWKS TO BEAT CLIPPERS (+3000): The Hawks got a great matchup vs. the Knicks. They were dominated by the Sixers and still won that series anyway, which says a lot about the Hawks and their mental resilience and matchup advantage, but also a lot about the Sixers.

If they beat the Bucks it will be another example of the Bucks underperforming. That doesn't mean we can't give the Hawks credit; they deserve all the credit in the world. But we shouldn't expect them to shock the world vs. a better team three straight times. The Suns and the Clippers would both feel like teams of destiny. The Hawks would have a better chance vs. the Clippers with the Clippers' weaker defense and reliance on drop pick and roll coverage, but it's not enough to give that bet value.

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Sean Treppedi
Mar 2, 2024 UTC