There should be no argument over the rightful favorite to win the NBA Finals. It’s the Phoenix Suns. Bang the gavel.
That doesn’t mean the Suns will win, or that they’re a good bet before the playoffs begin. Favorites lose all the time in every sport. It’s hard to get those 16 playoff wins to take home an NBA title.
The Suns are +260 to win the championship at BetMGM. The Bucks are a distant second at +500.
The Suns have been great this season, and it looks like they have a good shot at taking the next step after losing in the NBA Finals last season. But does that make them a good bet?
Phoenix easily favored as playoffs start
Nobody seems to mind the short odds on the Suns.
Almost 30 percent of the money bet at BetMGM on this season’s NBA champion is on the Suns. More than 55 percent of money bet on the Western Conference champions is on Phoenix.
The thing about betting Phoenix, as is the case with most clear favorites in any sport, is there’s no great case to make against them. At 64-18, the Suns were eight games better than any other NBA team. They didn’t seem bothered by injuries, whether it was Chris Paul, Devin Booker or Deandre Ayton. All three of them missed at least 14 games. It didn’t matter.
The Suns are a top-five team in offensive and defensive efficiency. They rank in the top 10 in field-goal percentage (Phoenix led the NBA in FG%), 3-point percentage, free-throw percentage, assists, fewest turnovers, points scored, points allowed, field-goal percentage allowed, blocks, turnovers forced and a few other categories as well. The Suns are a fantastic team.
In addition, the West isn’t that strong. You can perhaps talk yourself into the Memphis Grizzlies or Golden State Warriors knocking off the Suns, but the Grizzlies don’t have much playoff experience and Steph Curry’s injury situation is still uncertain. Anything can happen, but it’s hard to talk yourself into any other West team knocking off Phoenix in a seven-game series.
In other words, if you wanted to take the Suns at those short odds, nobody could tell you it’s a terrible idea.
Suns have a great shot to win it all
The Suns’ title odds give them about 27.8 percent chance to win the championship. That seems high.
Five Thirty Eight and ESPN’s BPI project the Suns to win the title about 21 percent of the time (both projections are really, really high on the Boston Celtics, for what it’s worth). It’s hard to give any team more than a 28 percent chance to win an NBA championship as the playoffs start, but that’s what you’d need to project for the Suns to be good value.
The Suns could lose to a team like the Warriors. Anyone who comes out of the loaded East would have a shot to beat the Suns in a seven-game series. Injuries happen. Upsets happen. Favorites lose.
You probably will find better betting value on teams like the Milwaukee Bucks or Miami Heat. But if you just want a ticket on the best team in the field, it’s the Suns. Who you’re riding with might depend on your overall betting philosophy.