After the 2020 Orlando Bubble, any NBA Playoffs resembling past postseasons is welcome. Right now, the 2021 NBA Playoffs look like they are going to blow past expectations.
More teams appear to have a shot at winning rings than in at least the past five seasons. The Brooklyn Nets remain a firm favorite with both the major sportsbooks and the books that use pay per head software, but the Nets have yet to win homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
Brooklyn is in a tough battle with the Philadelphia 76ers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Over in the West, upstart Utah has maintained a lead over the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers even though their best player, Donovan Mitchell, has been out with injury.
One name we have not mentioned is the preseason favorite Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James and Anthony Davis suffered injuries that led to missed games for long stretches during the season.
As of May 3, the Lakers are in fifth place. LeBron and AD are getting healthy, though. So, they are another squad with a shot to take the title.
Based on current analysis, six teams from the East and five teams from the West can win the NBA Finals.
Top NBA Squads Heading Into the 2021 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Teams
Although he has not played because of an injury, James Harden will make the difference for the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are great, but Harden can drop 50 on any night. More importantly, he is the third scorer that keeps teams from doubling Kyrie or KD.
The Sixers will have a shot to win the NBA Championship if Joel Embiid stays healthy. No other player in the NBA is as difficult to guard as Embiid. He dominates even when opposing coaches send double-teams. Embiid is also a force on the defensive end. With Embiid at center, Philadelphia forces opponents out of their most effective offensive sets.
While Harden will be the difference for the Nets, the Bucks’ have an understated difference-making player. Jrue Holiday isn’t as well-known as Giannis Antetokounmpo or Khris Middleton. But Holiday averages over 17 points, close to 5 rebounds, and close to 6 assists per. He also averages close to 2 steals each game. Teams can’t leave Holiday alone, which will open things for Middleton and Giannis.
New York Knicks
The Knicks?Yep. The Knicks. Anybody who said the Knicks would have a chance to win the NBA title before the season started likely had a social worker show up to their door asking if everything was okay.
New York has been one of the worst teams in the league for at least the past three seasons. This season, though, NYK is for real.
As a team, the Knicks shot 39.1% from three, ranking third in the category. R.J. Barrett, the former Duke Blue Devils star, and Julius Randle, who before this season was a high-value journeyman, have keyed New York’s basketball revolution.
If you hope to win rings, you must have at least two players who want the ball in the final few seconds. The Celtics have a couple in Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. Walker can hit the game-winning shot from anywhere on the court. Tatum has emerged as one of the best five players in the NBA. Jayson dropped 60 onto San Antonio in a Boston win on April 30.
The defending Eastern Conference Champions haven’t had a great season. But as long as Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo play for Miami, the Heat will have a shot to win the title. Victor Oladipo should return for the playoffs. If he does, and he doesn’t suffer another injury, Miami will be even stronger.
Western Conference Teams
Rudy Gobert at the center, Donovan Mitchell, and the deepest bench in the Association? Even if Utah loses home court to the Suns, they’ll remain one of the favorites to win the NBA Championship.
Chris Paul for MVP talk has gotten hot. The future hall of fame point guard has turned Phoenix into a contender.
The Phoenix Suns were the eighth seed in Orlando last season. Even though they won all their play-in tournament games, they missed out on making the playoffs.
Paul goes to the Suns, and Phoenix wins 46 games before May 4.
The Suns aren’t a one-person squad. Devin Booker has emerged as one of the best shooting guards in the league.
DeAndre Ayton averages a double-double in points and rebounds from the center position. Phoenix is loaded.
While Phoenix is loaded, the Denver Nuggets leaned on Nikola Jokic.
Although stats imply Jokic is a one-person team, Denver is more than just Nikola. Heading into 2018, Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets’ starting forward, was the country’s number one college basketball prospect.
An injury kept Porter Jr. from showing his stuff in his lone college season. The Nuggets drafted Porter fourteenth in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Porter has become a force. Denver also traded for high-flyer Aaron Gordon.
Gordon, Porter, and Jokic are good enough to get the Nuggets past losing Jamal Murray for the season.
Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James and Anthony Davis won’t allow the Lakers to fail, but it may be out of LeBron’s and AD’s hands. James has lost a step and will enter the playoffs after an injury.
Davis should be as dominant as ever, but the Western Conference is deep. The Lakers remain on this list even though they don’t look like a title contender.
Why? Because when the only player that we can speak of in the same breath as Michael Jordan plays for your team, you get a pass for an awful regular season.
Los Angeles Clippers
Jrue Holiday is the Milwaukee Bucks understated playoff winning weapon. The Clippers’ under the radar playoff victory weapon is veteran Rajon Rondo.
Rondo doesn’t even start for the Clippers. No problem if you are a Clippers fan.
Coach Tyronn Lue is saving Rajon for the playoffs where, no doubt, he’s going to average 11 to 15 assists per game. Lue knows what he’s doing. He must keep his best point fresh for a title run.
It’s impossible to think of another NBA Season where eleven teams could win the championship. After 2020’s NBA Playoffs bust, the more parity in this year’s NBA playoffs, the better.
If you are thinking of backing a team to win the NBA Title, make sure to call a sportsbook operator that offers free betting software. Individual sportsbook owners often provide fairer odds than more prominent sportsbooks.