Editor's Note: For complete access to Mackenzie's NBA Player Values chart (updated each round during the playoffs), which assigns point values to the top 80+ players across the league and supplements his free weekly NBA Power Ratings below, click here to learn about our new Betting Predators NBA premium package. For the complete details of my updated NBA 2021 Power Ratings, which include each team's net rating, offensive rating, defensive rating, current record and more, you can view the full spreadsheet here.
In order to create a betting line between two of the teams listed below, simply find the difference between the two teams' power rating and give the home team an additional 1.5 points for home court advantage (HCA). Example: the Los Angeles Lakers play the Golden State Warriors in L.A., and the Lakers are 6 points better according to the power ratings. The Lakers are also home, which is worth 1.5 points. The line in this case should be Lakers -7.5 (6 points added for PR difference, plus 1.5 points added for HCA). To adjust for new player injuries, rest days and minutes restrictions throughout the week, I recommend pairing these power ratings below with my weekly NBA Player Line Values in order to create the sharpest lines.
Phoenix Suns +6
The Phoenix Suns are now the odds-on favorites to win the 2021 NBA Finals.
Less than a week ago this team was winners of eight straight games SU & against the spread, and despite the Suns dropping two of their last three against LAC, they still lead the Western Conference Finals 3-2.
Is the year of Chris Paul is upon us? A title now, especially with a young team like Phoenix, would certainly vault him 20 spots or so in the Bill Simmons Pyramid, from 50-ish to 30-ish or something like that.
I just talked in my recent player line value ratings that CP3 is worth less to the point spread right now and later in the year, now that guys that Cameron Payne have been around him and have learned how to do things like not the turn the ball over, which Payne said was his primary focus in their Game 2 win when he scored 29 points. The winner of these July playoff/finals games is going to come down to which superstar makes shots, and while Paul has never been a guy to force shots, on a team full of young guys not accustomed to this moment, he surely recognizes he must lead by example. Case in point: he must score.
Milwaukee Bucks +6
The Bucks became brief title favorites after beating the brittle Brooklyn Nets in an epic 7-game Eastern Conference Finals. Giannis is 26 years old, and there is a long list of greats without a chip by then, just like him. The two-time MVP and one-time DPOY is in his second Eastern Conference Finals, and considering he landed in a ghost town of an NBA city – I’d say it's pretty legendary what MIL got for the 15th pick.
That said, this team has proven nothing at this level. Giannis was on a five-game losing streak in his Eastern Conference Finals career after dropping Game 1 to the Atlanta Hawks. Now he's 2-6 over his last eight, and we currently don't know just how serious his knee injury might be after Game 4's loss in ATL.
I had downgraded the Bucks a point from their high point these playoffs, but there are new question marks regarding Giannis' health and how the team will respond on short notice in Games 5-6 if he can't go and suit up. Still, Milwaukee with even a somewhat healthy Giannas is as good as any team and should also have a great shot to be the first team ever to fire their coach during their NBA championship parade.
Atlanta Hawks +3.5
I never thought for one second that 22 year-old LeBron James and the 2007 Cavs were going to win the NBA Championship, as impressive as their championship run was. I also know that 20 year-old Magic Johnson got a ring and an NBA Finals MVP, but that team was lead by Kareem at his absolute peak.
A healthy Young, however, I believe has a chance to shock the world and bring Atlanta it is first Championship since the '95 Braves. Injuries have marred this series, so this rating is currently on standby.
L.A. Clippers +3
I do not care about winning the Western Conference Finals if I am a Los Angeles Clippers fan. Winning it would be great, sure, but if Kawhi Leonard comes back then I am expecting to win an NBA championship.
Gimpy Kawhi pulling a Willis Reed for 4 points may in fact help this Clippers team in a Game 6 or 7. More importantly, a full strength Kawhi makes this current Clippers team 9 points better than an average team and 3 points better than any team left in the NBA’s final four. Kawhi’s influence from a psychological perspective would be also be massive here. Kawhi is a two-time Finals MVP, and the Clippers at +650 to win the title at DraftKings Sportsbook goes from an OK bet right now to an outstanding wager if Leonard indeed returns, although I estimate that possibility at around 10% for the playoffs and 5% for this series.