Which NBA Teams Benefit Least From Coronavirus Suspension?
The sudden NBA season postponement has stunted LeBron James' stride into playoff mode. Photo from @ESPNStatsInfo (Twitter).
- LeBron James and the Lakers were rounding into form when COVID-19 stalled the season
- Will there be a rift with Rudy Gobert and his teammates?
- Read below to see who might be worth wagering on once the NBA season resumes
Yesterday, we looked at the NBA teams who would benefit most with a suspension because of COVID-19. Today, we flip the coin, and look at the teams who have taken a major hit because of the cancellation – even if they happen to be at the top of the 2020 NBA Championship odds.
2020 NBA Championship Odds
|Team||Odds at BetOnline|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+225|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+300|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+10000|
*Odds from March 14
We know the season is halted for at least the next month — is that enough to derail a few of the favorites making a run at a title this year?
Lakers’ Momentum Screeches To Halt
You would think that a 35-year-old in year 17 would welcome an extended break in-season, but the real-world developments are quite possibly the worst-case scenario that could happen to LeBron James and the Lakers.
Player A is 2019-20 Giannis Antetokounmpo. Player B is 2019-20 LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/wZITeIZr9W
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) March 10, 2020
Los Angeles just finished a weekend that showed they were ready for prime time, led by James, who pushed his way back into the MVP picture as he led the Lakers to big wins over both the Milwaukee Bucks (the team with the best record in the NBA) and the LA Clippers (the Lakers’ top challenger in the West).
James went for 37 points, eight boards and eight assists against Milwaukee, and 28 points, eight rebounds and nine assists against LA, playing with urgency and relentlessly, as evidenced by his 29 free throw attempts across both games. He also didn’t shy away from any showdowns, guarding Giannis, Kawhi and Paul George for enough possessions to know the plan was for the King to deliver on both ends of the floor.
— StarWorld (@_Waynee_) March 8, 2020
Anybody watching knows James was rounding into the beast that is going to have to soon deliver every other night when the games truly count. Shutting it down and watching the days go by throws that timing way off.
Bucks Have To Stew Amid Doubts
Ideally, days off to help Giannis Antetokounmpo heal from a knee injury that he suffered in the Lakers’ game is best for the Bucks. It’s just the way Milwaukee enters the suspended portion of the season ensures that no matter what they do, they can’t win.
Race for NBA's best record (remaining schedule comparison):
Record: 53-12 49-14
Games Left: 17 19
vs .500+: 8 8
SOS Rank: 15th 25th
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) March 11, 2020
They enter the break having lost four of their last five, including the last three straight. During this stretch, the Bucks — who lead the NBA in scoring at better than 118 points per game, have scored 103 points or fewer in three of those four losses.
The Greek Freak missed the last two games against both the Suns and Nuggets, and this recent swoon has probably cost the Bucks a 70-win season, their early-season air of invincibility, and potentially a second straight MVP for Giannis.
An granmoun NAN FIGI GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
LEBRON JAMES 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
MILWAUKEE BUCKS pic.twitter.com/9ku1TBPT8Q
— Don Fred St Lot (@DONFREDSTLOT) March 7, 2020
This extended break gives the Bucks plenty to think about, particularly we’ll never know how they’d handle their first real hurdle to face in this dream season. And even if the season resumes and they start steamrolling the league again, they’ll be tagged as a top seed that can be handled — and upset — in the postseason.
How Do The Jazz Recover?
Utah is ground zero for the Coronavirus striking the NBA, and it’s their two all-stars — Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell — who were hit with the illness. Physical recovery shouldn’t be an issue, but how this team regroups for the playoffs is anyone’s guess.
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz thought the NBA precautions were a joke — so he touched everything in the room.
He tested positive for coronavirus today & now the whole NBA is shut down. 😫
— An0maly (@LegendaryEnergy) March 12, 2020
Chemistry will be their biggest problem, as there were anonymous sources saying the Jazz players were particularly upset with the Gobert, who was cavalier about COVID-19, which included touching microphones as a joke for his media avail, and then carrying that joke into the locker room, touching teammates’ items.
If the season delay goes longer than 30 days, there’s a chance the NBA jumps right into the playoffs.
The Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert bromance has ended pic.twitter.com/T7fPJQoAKY
— Kenny Beecham (@KOT4Q) March 12, 2020
Those lost games could come back to cost Utah, as any playoff success will likely need to include an effective Mike Conley Jr, and those late-season reps were their only hope of rehabbing his game for a postseason run. He’s averaging just 13.8 points and 4.3 assists in 41 games, shooting a paltry 40.5% from the field.
What’s The Best Bet?
How much weight does 1-seed in the West carry when every team could be starting at square one in a few months?
That said, despite the COVID-19 delay in NBA play, it’s still hard to go against the Lakers. If you don’t have a wager on them already, it’s best to see how they look once games do resume. Any struggles for LeBron James and company and those current +225 odds could lengthen, and that might be the best window and value to pounce on.
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV's Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric's work has appeared in local and national publications alike.
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