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The Nets and Lakers Lead Title Race in 2021

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The Brooklyn Nets and the LA Lakers opened as the top two bets to win the NBA Championships next season, while the reigning titleholders, the Milwaukee Bucks, entered the betting as the third best bet. With the 2021-22 NBA season less than two months away, the order remains the same with the Net and Lakers leading the charge followed by the Bucks. 

It really is no surprise that the Brooklyn Nets and the LA Lakers are amongst the top two bets in the league right now. Both the Nets and Lakers struggled to stay healthy last season and many saw that as the main reason why both crashed out of the playoffs prematurely.

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The Nets high-flying offense was one of the best in the league but they were unable to carry the momentum into the playoffs. A slew of injuries severely handicapped the Nets and they were ultimately eliminated by the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. In the meanwhile, it was a similar story for the Lakers as they were beaten by the Phoenix Suns in the first round. 

The Milwaukee Bucks may be pushed back to third on the betting board but they’ll fancy their chances next season regardless, make no mistake about it. Having said that winning back-to-back titles is no mean feat and the Bucks will likely be challenged to do so given the fact that they’re amongst the teams that will face the shortest rest time before the season resumes in October.

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After winning Milwaukee’s first NBA title since 1971, Bucks star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, quite rightly was named the most valuable player of the series. He was a big motivator behind the Bucks’ 4-2 series win over the Suns in the finals.

“This is a feeling, like this is an addictive feeling,” Antetokounmpo told reporters afterwards. “I love playing in the playoffs. I love playing in the Finals. This is the moments I want to chase. I want the team to build off this and hopefully we can do it again.”

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The Nets and Lakers Lead Title Race in 2021 - THE SPORTS ROOM

Underscoring Brooklyn’s favourable odds is the so-called ‘Big Three’ of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyle Irving. When this triplet was on, they lit up. They were the second highest scoring team in the end averaging 118.6 points per game but top of the charts with a field goal percentage of 49.4%.

The Nets weren’t amongst those most active in free agency this offseason, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt their chances. It’s a testament that the organisation is confident with what they’ve already got to compete next season.

The Lakers’ NBA odds, by contrast, are largely held up by the fantastic double-threat of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but next season the pair will get some help from newly acquired Russell Westbrook. The Lakers made a big splash in free agency by trading for the former Westbrook. 

Westbrook is a former NBA MVP and a good friend of LeBron James. His addition could make for another ‘Big Three’ to rival that of the Nets, which has Lakers fans buzzing ahead of the 2021 NBA season. 

The Nets and Lakers Lead Title Race in 2021 - THE SPORTS ROOM

Both the Nets and Lakers are stacked in star power and veteran leadership. In many ways, installing the pair as the top two faves is a response to the widespread consensus of opinion that believes the Nets vs. the Lakers would be the dream matchup. The matchup to end all matchups in the NBA finals.

Could you imagine it: Durant, Harden and Irving vs. LeBron, AD and Westbrook? It really couldn’t get any better than that, surely.

By and large, the Nets and Lakers represent safe bets for those looking to get in on the NBA action early. Of course, there’s a caveat to be had and that is, everything depends on both teams remaining healthy for the better part of the season. This was something they both struggled with last season and we saw the result.

One of the main reasons why the Nets and Lakers were hit by the injury bug was the short turnaround between the pandemic disrupted 2019-20 season and the 2020-21 season. LeBron James was one of the most vocal critics of the league’s decision last year to start the NBA season so soon after the Lakers had won the NBA title in the previous season. 

The Lakers star ranted on social media, airing his displeasure about it at the time. He even warned about the possibility of injury damaging the integrity of the sport and quality of the competition. When his prophecies were proven, he was quick to point out that he’d called it all along.

And, yet again, LeBron James is sounding off against the NBA. This time, it’s for the decision to rush back to a normal timeline for the 2021-22 NBA season as players face a second straight condensed offseason. 

The NBA is aiming to kick start the season on October 19 with a return to a full schedule. Those teams that didn’t make the playoffs will benefit greatly with the extended time off, which amounts to almost three months. However, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, on the other hand, may fall victims to the rapid turnaround as they’re only going to have 10 weeks of rest. Others in the playoffs will also be facing shorter rest periods than those that simply didn’t make the cut.  

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Abhishek Singh
Abhishek Singhhttps://thesportsroom.org
Abhishek is a veteran journalist who covers the sport of MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Arm-wrestling, Boxing and Pop Culture. His passion for Combat Sports began when he first saw the highlights of boxing legends like Manny Pacquiao, Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto etc.

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