Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has picked LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers to lift the NBA title at the culmination of the 2019/20 season, with the league having finalized plans, as well as a schedule, to restart the campaign.
The NBA has been at the forefront when it comes to sports resuming in the United States and is now a shining example given the way Commissioner Adam Silver has handled things amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If all goes according to plan, NBA basketball will restart on July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Green, a three-time champion who’s been to five consecutive NBA Finals, won’t be involved in the playoffs for the first time in his eight-year career as the Warriors posted a dismal 15-50 record after losing Kevin Durant to free agency and the sharpshooting duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to injury.
The 30-year-old will be watching from home when 16 teams out of the 22 invited compete for the NBA Championship in what’s being called a “bubble” in Orlando.
He sees the Lakers and neighbors, the Los Angeles Clippers, as the favorites but thinks LeBron’s team will edge the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George-led side.
“I think going into the season and all season long, the [Los Angeles] Clippers were the favorite,” he said on ESPN’s Jalen and Jacoby show this week, (H/T NBC Sports). “When you look at their team, I think they have someone that checks every box, from a defender, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverly.”
As luck would have it, the Lakers and Clippers will be the first teams the other meets when seeding games begin at the end of the month. The Los Angeles outfits will clash on reopening day and, of course, there will be odds on offer for the major showdown. Fans could take advantage of free promotions and neat sign-up offers from freebets.com while sporting activities persist.
The Western Conference rivals are evenly matched where sportsbooks are concerned, with Paddy Power offering odds of 9/10 on them both. Betway also has 19/20 on a -1.5 point spread for the Lakers and 13/15 on +1.5 for the Clippers. The latter is one of the only major sportsbooks to have posted winning margin odds and a 21+ for the Lakers could be had at 61/10 while 3-6 is at 63/10. A 21+ margin in favor of the Clippers is at 34/5 and 3-6 is at 67/10. Punters interested in Total Odds/Evens could get 13/15 on odd with Vbet and the same odds on even.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are also set for an Eastern Conference face-off on the day. William Hill has odds of 5/11 on the Bucks and 19/10 on the Celtics. The Lakers, perhaps even stronger following the very recent signing of veteran guard JR Smith, are the outright favorites to win the title at 23/10 with Bet365; the Bucks are 5/2 in that regard, while the Clippers are 3/1 to capture what would be their first Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Fans keen on taking a chance on some of the outside favorites – because things really could go either way given the unprecedented circumstances – there’s the 28/1 Miami Heat (Bet 365), the 25/1 Philadelphia 76ers (Betfair), the 25/1 Denver Nuggets (888sport), and the 22/1 Toronto Raptors (Unibet). The Celtics, 18/1 with Ladbrokes, and the Houston Rockets, 14/1 with Coral, are also teams who have a chance at pulling off a shock win.
The Lakers, though, seem the most well-positioned team to win it all – at least that’s how Green sees it.
“I think going into this bubble, the Lakers got to be the favorite because they got LeBron and he can kind of adjust anything,” he added. “And I think he’s probably the most disciplined player we’ve ever seen in the NBA, and that’s going to matter going into this bubble. Having LeBron on your team going into this bubble gives you a slight advantage.”