The Houston Rockets finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA for the first time in the 51-year history of the franchise.
The Rockets (65-17) also have the top mark at home (34-7), on the road (31-10) and within their conference (41-11). The Western Conference champions also lead the league in point differential (+8.5 per game).
Add all this up and oddsmakers still don’t pick them to win their third NBA championship. Houston, which won titles in 1994 and 1995, currently stands at +160.
The Golden State Warriors (58-24) and Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32) have been in the last three NBA Finals. The Warriors won in 2015 and 2017, while the Cavs captured the title in 2016. Golden State is listed as the favorite to repeat as champs at +135. Cleveland is the third pick at +650.
While the Rockets are the best in the West, the beasts of the East are the Toronto Raptors. The Canadian team (59-23) captured its first regular-season conference title and fifth divisional honors in the franchise’s 23-year history. The Raptors, pegged at +850 to win the championship, also had the best record against Eastern Conference opponents at 40-12.
The Boston Celtics, who had the second-best record in the East at 55-27, have seen their future odds soar to +7000 with the season-ending surgery to all-star guard Kyrie Irving. The Celtics finished the season on a 10-6 run in their last 16 games.
The Warriors and Cavaliers will likely turn up the heat on their playoff opponents. But this is the perfect opportunity for the Rockets to prove their spectacular regular season was no fluke, especially with MVP frontrunner James Harden leading the way.
The opening round of the NBA playoffs start on Saturday, April 18.
VGB’s pick — Houston (+160)
How Do These Odds Work?
The higher the positive number beside the team name in the futures bet, the higher the return. That fact holds true whether you’re making a bet on online gaming sites like Bovada or at a Las Vegas sports book like the Venetian.
A $100 bet on the Rockets to win the NBA championship would pay $260 ($100 plus $160).
A $100 bet on the Eastern Conference regular-season champs would pay $950 ($100 bet on the Raptors plus $850 profit).
If you’re really looking for a long shot, a $100 bet on the Indiana Pacers (+10000) to win it all would mean a huge payday for winning ticket holders. The return would be $10,100 ($100 bet plus $10,000 profit) on one of 12 franchises that has never won an NBA title.
The odds on the futures will change as the playoffs progress toward the final, but your payoff remains the same depending on the odds at the time of the wager.
VGB’s Top 10 NBA Teams
(Current odds to win the NBA Finals listed after team record. Odds provided by Bovada.)
- Houston (65-17) +160 — Great shot at NBA title for first time in 23 years.
- Toronto (59-23) +850 — All-time playoff record 28-44, 4-9 series record.
- Golden State (58-24) +135 — Hobble into playoffs 6-15 in last 21 games.
- Philadelphia (52-30) +1500 — Won just one playoff round in last 14 years.
- Cleveland (50-32) +650 — Look to return to finals for fourth straight time.
- Boston (55-27) +7000 — Deep playoff run last season, lost to Cavaliers.
- Utah (48-34) +4500 — 28-6 since Jan. 24, second straight playoff berth.
- Portland (49-33) +3300 — Have not reached conference finals in 17 years.
- Indiana (48-34) +10000 — One of 12 franchises to have never won a title.
- Oklahoma City (48-34) +2500 — Last played in finals in 2012, lost to Heat.