For NBA basketball players, the 82-game regular season is gruelling but there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel: the NBA Finals. The top teams in the league advance to the playoffs but only the best of the best make the Finals.
The intensity level on the hardcourt kicks up several notches with each round and only teams with the right combination of health, unity and coaching can run the gauntlet. Just to make it to the NBA Championship, teams have to win three best-of-7 rounds of playoff games.
Which teams are positioned to make noise in the NBA playoffs? What should you be watching for? What are the best sportsbooks to bet on NBA final games? We have the answers here.
There’s a very active futures market for the NBA. The most popular option in the vast market is for the winner of the NBA Championship. Despite the unique playoff play-in format announced for this year, all playoff series are expected to be full best-of-7 series as per usual.
Here’s what the real-time NBA Finals odds look like at legal US online sportsbooks. Click on any set of odds to claim your bonus and open a new account. Use the drop-down menus to change your state.
The legal sports betting industry is growing exponentially. Several reputable sportsbook apps are serving the legal states, and a handful of them have emerged as the top choices.
Getting started with each of these sportsbook apps is simple. All you need to do is click through on our exclusive links to create your account. You’ll get some outstanding sign-up bonuses for doing so. After entering some basic information, your new account will be created right away. From there, follow the instructions on the main website to download the app for your iPhone or Android device. Once that’s all set, log in on mobile and you’ll be ready to place your bets on the go.
As you get set to bet on the NBA Championship, you’ll have plenty of options. You can bet on the outright winner of the series or take it on a game-by-game basis or drill down even further with other fantastic wagering opportunities.
If you’re looking to take things to a new level, then be sure to reserve some of your bankroll for live betting. This is an area of sports betting that is growing tremendously, and it’s a featured option at several mobile and online sportsbooks.
You don’t need to get all your bets in before the first tipoff. Live betting makes that possible, and there is a whole range of wagers you can explore during a game.
For example, let’s say that it’s the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers in this year’s NBA Finals. Here are some of the betting markets you might come across during one of the games in the series:
Live betting markets are fast-moving. Odds and bet offerings can change in an instant, so you need to stay plugged in and be ready to pounce when appealing options pop up.
The best way to make that happen is via a sports betting app. You can perform all of the same functions on mobile as you can online or at a retail sportsbook. It’s simply much more convenient to have everything you need at your fingertips as the game plays out and different betting opportunities emerge.
If you want action on the NBA Finals, you won’t be disappointed. From standard bets such as moneylines, spreads and totals, to futures bets on the series winner or NBA Finals MVP, there are plenty of options to consider.
For even more chances to make the NBA Championship a profitable experience, take some time to examine the prop betting market. Essentially, these are side bets on things that may or may not happen during the course of the series or in one of the individual games.
Here’s an example of some of the opportunities you may come across, sticking with the Bucks and Lakers, for example.
What will be the outcome of the series?
Who will win the NBA Finals MVP?
Who will hold the series lead after Game Three?
Which player will have more points, rebounds and assists in Game Two?
You’ll find a wide range of choices throughout the NBA Finals. Some of them will be team-based, while others will revolve around individual player performance.
While the NBA Finals attract plenty of betting action as it is, that doesn’t mean that sportsbooks are just going to sit by idly and wait for users to check out their offerings. Events that capture a lot of attention are a great time for operators to attract new users, and many go the extra mile to do so.
As the NBA Finals approach, keep your eyes peeled for special incentive offers. They could be in the form of a deposit bonus or some other type of promotional offerings, such as an odds boost.
So, what is an odds boost? It is a promo in which a sportsbook will take the regular odds for an outcome or event and make them even more enticing.
Let’s walk through a pair of examples using the NBA Finals and the MVP of the series. Heading into a fictitious NBA Finals matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics, here’s what the odds might look like for the outright winner of the series:
The Clippers are slight favorites in a series that most folks expect to last a while. If you place a $100 bet on the Clippers to win at odds of -105 and the team goes on to win the series, you’ll be in line for a profit of $95.20.
That’s not too shabby, but more favorable odds would be nice. Enter an odds boost promo from a random sportsbook that decides to offer the Clippers to win the NBA Championship at odds of +150. Here’s the math:
The favorable movement in odds results in the chance for an even better return on your preferred outcome.
Now let’s say that Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum are the big favorites to win the NBA Finals MVP award. Here’s what the regular odds might look like at the start of the series:
Since you like the Clippers to win, it doesn’t take much to convince you that Kawhi will take down another MVP award.
A $100 bet at odds of +110 would set you up for a profit of $110 is everything broke as you anticipated. You suddenly receive a promo offer, which is providing an odds boost on Kawhi for MVP at +200.
Just like that, you have a chance at a return of $200 on a $100 wager if he adds more hardware to his collection. Odds boosts can be fantastic opportunities to increase returns, so be on the lookout when the NBA Finals come rolling around.
For the 2020-21 NBA regular season, here are the expected dates on the calendar to keep in mind:
From the open to the end date of the NBA Finals, there are typically 16 days in between. That means that there’s plenty of time for rest and travel, so there will be no need for back-to-back games. That’s a big plus for the product on the court.
How that schedule will look in 2021 still remains to be seen, though. If we use a standard NBA Finals schedule as a guide, there is a two- or three-day span between games. Here’s how that shook out between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors:
Toronto took it down in six games with three of their victories in the series coming on the road. This was the first NBA title for the Raptors. Leonard was named NBA Finals MVP after averaging 28.5 points per game in the series.
The NBA Finals traces its roots back to 1947 when the Philadelphia Warriors took down the Chicago Stags, 4-1, to win the title. We have seen many memorable series through the years, including in recent times.
Here’s a look at the last 10 editions:
There have been several incredible teams over the past decade. The Heat went on a dominant run in the early part of the decade, while the Warriors wrapped it up while doing the same.
Right along with the exceptional teams of the past decade are several stellar individual performances. Here the last 10 winners of the NBA Finals MVP award:
LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are among the multi-time winners with four and two NBA Finals MVP awards, respectively. Since the Lakers and Clippers are still among the biggest favorites to win the next crown, both of them seem to have a great shot at adding another Finals MVP.
The US broadcast rights for the NBA Finals have traded hands among the major broadcast networks through the years, but they have been the property of ABC/ESPN since 2003. Since then, all games of the finals have been broadcast on ABC with ESPN Deportes pitching in on the international front.
As one of the big four broadcast networks, ABC is carried by cable and streaming operators across the nation, and it can also be picked up by HDTV antenna in certain areas. Since the NBA Finals are part of the ESPN family, there’s naturally expanded coverage on all their properties and major programs.
For other streaming possibilities, the ABC app provides a live stream of finals broadcasts. The app is available for smartphones and can also be downloaded on smart TVs, but please note that you’ll have to sign in with your TV provider to access it.
Those looking to catch the games online can follow the same process while visiting ABC.com. ESPN handles radio coverage, so look for the local affiliate in your area to catch coverage of the NBA Finals.
While the NBA Finals always attract plenty of attention, the ratings have ebbed and flowed on a national level based on the teams involved. For example, the 1998 NBA Finals set the all-time mark with an average of over 29 million viewers for broadcast network NBC. The Chicago Bulls took down the Utah Jazz four games to two in that memorable series.
The NBA was in the midst of a boom point at that time, and it’s not too hard to figure out why. That was the era when Michael Jordan was dominating the league, and he and the Bulls were quite the draw on the national level.
For the ‘98 finals, the rival Jazz had plenty of star power with Karl Malone and John Stockton. The series was highly anticipated, and that translated into fantastic viewership numbers.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 2007 edition set the low-water mark for the modern era of NBA Finals broadcast. ABC provided coverage, and an average of 9.29 million viewers tuned in to watch the San Antonio Spurs take down the Cleveland Cavaliers four games to zero.
It wasn’t a lack of familiar names that led to the low numbers, as Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan led the way for the Spurs, while LeBron James led the Cavaliers.
Quite simply, the overall broadcast environment has continually evolved since the late 1990s. Fast forward to today, and there are a countless number of streaming options for viewers.
Events that used to attract millions of viewers have seen the numbers steadily decline across the board. That said, live sports remains the most significant driver in driving eyeballs to the screen at the same time. Hence, the enormous broadcast rights’ fees the various leagues can secure.
For round numbers, the current NBA broadcast deal with ABC, ESPN and Turner Sports runs from the 2016-17 season through 2024-25 and checks in with an eye-popping price tag of $24 billion. That’s behind only the NFL in terms of dollars, and in the neighborhood of what soccer’s Premier League manages to snag.
For individual games on an all-time basis, Game Six of the aforementioned Bulls-Jazz series in 1998 racked up 35.89 million viewers.
Game Three of the 2003 NBA Finals between San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets holds the record in the opposite direction with 8.06 million viewers. The Spurs would go on to win that series, four games to two, in one of the lowest-rated finals of all time.
Since the end of the Jordan era, the NBA Finals as a whole have been averaging between 12 million and 20 million viewers. The two notable exceptions were in 2003 and 2007, as the average numbers dipped below 10 million for both series.
The legal sports betting environment across the US continues to evolve. Several states are ahead of the curve, others are pending launch and while another set is still sorting through legislation. If you want to bet on the NBA Championship online you can do so with:
Review the full list of US states with legal sports betting.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers lead the way with 17 NBA Finals wins apiece.
The Celtics franchise has appeared in 21 final series games overall, losing just four of them. The Lakers hold the record for most overall appearances in the NBA Finals with 32. The franchise has gone 17-15 with its last title coming in 2020.
The NBA Finals is a best-of-seven series, meaning that the first team to win four games is the victor. The team that has the better regular season gets the home-court advantage for the series. The current format is a 2-2-1-1-1 with the team with the better record playing on the home court in Games One, Two, Five and Seven.
We have to go back several decades to answer this question. On April 14, 1967, the Philadelphia 76ers welcomed the San Francisco Warriors to town for Game One of the NBA Finals.
The 76ers would go on to win the game by a score of 141-135 in overtime. The combined total of 276 points makes it the highest-scoring game in NBA Finals history.
Rick Barry, of the Warriors, was the game’s leading scorer with 37 points. Hal Greer was tops on the 76ers with 30 points. Philadelphia would go on to win the series, four games to two.
The next highest-scoring game for the six-game series came in Game Three when the Warriors won at home by a score of 130-124 for a combined total of 254 points.
The legendary Kobe Bryant made it to seven NBA Finals during his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here are the years the club made the finals with Kobe Bryant and the results:
Bryant won the NBA Finals MVP reward for his performance in both 2009 and 2010.
Back in 1995, the Houston Rockets were seeded sixth entering the Western Conference playoffs.
The team proceeded to go on a run for the ages, knocking off Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs to reach the NBA Finals. The Rockets would go on to defeat the Orlando Magic, four games to zero.
This was the second consecutive title for the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Rockets as they defeated the New York Knicks four games to three the previous year.
The Rockets have been to two other finals in franchise history, losing to the Boston Celtics in six games in both 1981 and 1986.