Can Dame take the Bucks back to the promised land, or will the new-look Celtics get in their way?
Can either of them stop the Joker and the Denver Machine?
BetDeluxe looks at the best bets for this season’s NBA Championship.
As soon as they acquired the highly sought-after signature of Big Game Dame, the Milwaukee Bucks rocketed into favouritism for this season’s NBA Championship at $4.50.
After finishing the season with a disastrous first-round playoffs loss to the Heat, the Bucks executive went all-in on strengthening their line-up around Giannis Antetokounmpo, with Lillard ultimately replacing Jrue Holiday.
Lillard, who averaged a career-high 32.2 points, 7.3 dimes and 4.8 boards for the Trail Blazers last season, will join the likes of Giannis, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Malik Beasley, Robin Lopez, and Jae Crowder as one of the most talented rosters in the league.
There’s no telling the amount of offensive damage a Giannis/Lillard combination could do, but nothing short of an NBA Finals appearance would suffice.
This team could be anything.
If the Bucks are going to go to the Finals this season, they must first find a way past a new-look Boston Celtics squad that is brimming with elite talent.
The Celtics went to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals last season before being blown out of the water by Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.
However, after relying heavily on the output of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have added serious all-around firepower in the form of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. Holiday replaces Marcus Smart in the starting five, while the addition of Kristaps at centre allows Al Horford to come off the bench.
Tatum, who is currently fourth in the betting for MVP ($8), is still the leader of this team, and he will undoubtedly flourish with less personal pressure on the offensive end.
The Boston vs Milwaukee rivalry will be insane.
We can’t leave out the reigning champions on this list. Especially not at $6.50.
It was a fairytale maiden championship for the Nuggets last season as they demolished the Heat 4-1 in a one-sided Finals series. They were even more brutal in the Western Conference Finals, dismantling the Lakers 4-0 on the back of three triple-doubles from the Joker.
With the two-time MVP showing no signs of slowing down alongside Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr, and Aaron Gordon, it could be more of the same as Denver attempts to become the first team to go back-to-back since the Warriors in 2017-18.
They’ve certainly lost some talent off the bench in Bruce Brown Jr and Jeff Green, but their sheer dominance over their Western Conference rivals means they’re in the box seat to cause more postseason damage.
Golden State Warriors
Do the champs have one more in them?
Only two seasons ago, Steve Kerr’s squad defeated the Celtics 4-2 and captured their fourth championship since 2015. While they suffered a disappointing loss to the Lakers in last year’s semi-finals, there were undoubtedly signs they’ve still got the hunger.
The Warriors’ most significant move over the offseason came when Chris Paul joined Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green via a trade with the Wizards.
That trade meant one thing: they’re having another crack at the title.
The Warriors must find a way through the Nuggets and the Big 3 in Phoenix – Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal – but anything is possible with CP3 alongside Steph and Klay.
$15 is genuine value at this point of the year.