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NBA PM: Semi-Pro League Recruits Prep Stars

A semi-pro team is offering All-Americans millions of dollars to skip college. Will high school stars do it?

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Semi-Pro Team Recruiting High School Stars

UPDATE: The AmeriLeague has signed four-star recruit Ted Kapita (according to Adam Zagoria) as well as former NBA players Henry Walker, Terrence Williams, Dajuan Wagner, Josh Selby, David Harrison, Antoine Wright, Royce White and Joe Crawford among others, according to league announcements. They are in talks with other former NBA and D-League players too. The league’s season will reportedly get underway on November 9.

Since the NBA’s age limit banned high school players from entering the draft back in 2006, prospects determined to take the prep-to-pro route have had to get creative.

Some players decided to sign a lucrative contract with an overseas team, like Brandon Jennings did in Italy and Emmanuel Mudiay did in China. Others, who didn’t want to leave the country, chose to sign with a D-League team and make less than $20,000, like Latavious Williams did back in 2009.

But what if a third option existed, one that allowed a top high school player to make millions of dollars without having to travel across the globe as a teenager? If a player could sign an enormous contract while remaining in the United States, would that option become popular among high school stars?

Cerruti Brown wants to find out.

Brown is a businessman who is the founder of the six-team, semi-pro AmeriLeague. The league was formed “to create another option for one-and-done high school talent” and, according to Brown, they have already started making large offers to prospective players. One team, named the Dealers, has been making pitches to some high schoolers.

Brown says that the Dealers are offering between $700,000 and $2.5 million for top high school stars, with the figure varying depending on the individual’s skill set and notability.

“To determine the salary, we look at a lot of things,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “We’ll look at their overall talent. We look to see if the kid is already being projected as a consensus lottery pick on mock drafts. We also look at their marketability – the guys who have the personality to go along with the skill set. We want guys who will be attractive to corporate sponsors as well. We like those kids who have that swagger and ‘it’ factor, the players who are exciting and who kids look up to.

“There have been some reports – some accurate and some inaccurate – about what we’ll spend, but the most that has been put on the table so far is $2.5 million. We haven’t reached an agreement with that player yet, but neither side has ended the talks. But from our standpoint, that’s a huge chunk of change to spend on a player and they would have to be a sure-thing. But yeah, if they’re a projected lottery pick and a McDonald’s All-American and are notable, that number could end up being $2 million to $2.5 million at the end of the day. But, to be clear, it would have to be for the right player.”

If Brown’s idea takes off, this could present the best of both worlds for top high school players since they can earn a huge pay check in their one-and-done year without having to travel abroad. Ted Kapita, a four-star recruit, is the first player who has signed to play in the AmeriLeague.

“This was kind of a no-brainer,” Brown said. “We wanted to think of an option that could be better, as far as the pay, than going overseas or going to the D-League. I’m not going to toot my own horn or anything because I think it’s something that a lot of people have thought of, but just didn’t know how to get it off the ground. A lot of things have to fall into place to get it off the ground, but the idea itself was a no-brainer. This can be the best opportunity for one-and-done players.”

While adding Kapita gives the league some exposure, Brown admits that he’s mainly focused on the 2016 class of players. Because he was able to reach out to those players and their families much earlier in the process, he says a number of top prospects have expressed serious interest. Brown confidently states that his goal is to have multiple McDonald’s All-Americans suiting up for the Dealers next season.

“When we came out with the announcement, we were kind of behind the eight ball on the class of 2015 and I didn’t want to step on a lot of coaches’ toes since a lot of players had already committed and signed letters of intent,” Brown said. “But we were still able to get into the homes and meet with seven of the top 20 players in the class of 2015. Some were serious conversations, some were just meet and greets to feel out the situation and receive more information. Two conversations were very serious and now we’re down to crunch time. And, look, with something like this that is brand new, everyone wants to push the envelope and see if they can get more than the initial negotiated sum of money that was brought to the table. So we’re going to the wire [with the negotiations]. We signed Kapita, he was the first one.

“But with the 2016 class, we’re right in there with Kentucky and Duke and all of the top college programs as far as recruiting. We’ve been targeting that class and have been in constant communication with those prospects. We’ve been in homes and had serious talks. It’s going well so far. Really, [the negotiations] come down to the risks involved for all parties. They’re asking, ‘What if certain things happen, what if it folds?’ But on the flip side, as a businessman, I’m asking, ‘What if you don’t pan out? What if there’s a major injury? Will we lose money on this?’ The talks are going well and I think we can have multiple 2016 recruits next year.”

In addition to top high school players, Brown says the AmeriLeague wants to attract D-League players, overseas players and even fringe NBA players. So far, they have added former NBA players Terrence Williams, Dajuan Wagner, Josh Selby, David Harrison, Antoine Wright, Royce White and Joe Crawford to the league, and more announcements are expected very soon. This would provide quality competition for the high school talent the league attracts, while also growing the AmeriLeague brand. The fact that the AmeriLeague pays more than the D-League has enticed many players.

The salaries for D-League players are tiered, paying $13,000 to tier-one players, $19,000 to tier-two players and $25,500 to tier-three players. Of course, the players make more if they get called up by an NBA team, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. Brown says that the AmeriLeague will have a tiered payment system too – paying $26,000 to tier-one players, $34,000 to tier-two players and $44,000 to tier-three players – so even the lowest-paid AmeriLeague would be making more than the highest-paid D-Leaguer.

D-League salaries will likely be increasing in the near future due to the NBA’s new television rights deal, according to league sources, which could hurt AmeriLeague’s pitch. But it remains to be seen how much the D-League contracts will increase, and AmeriLeague could always respond with a subsequent pay bump of their own.

“When we first came out with this, everyone asked, ‘Well, who are you going to play?’ With the launch of AmeriLeague, we’re going to target D-League players and the overseas guys who want to stay in America,” Brown said. “We want to build a minor league that is on the highest level competition wise and skill-development wise.”

The league is being funded by an investment group that includes wealthy businessmen as well as several current and former NBA players, according to Brown. Also, Brown wanted to stress that the players will be covered by the Provenance Specialty Insurance Agency in the event of injury, removing some of the risk for the prospects.

While the money is certainly tempting, one of the most interesting aspects of this route for high school stars is the mentor program that they are creating. Brown will have former NBA players teach the young prospects about achieving success in the NBA and being professionals. Brown says the program will be led by nine-year NBA veteran Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams, who is the Las Vegas Chapter President of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. Other retired players (and some current ones) have committed to be involved as well, according to Brown.

In addition to players, Brown has lined up executives from Fortune 500 companies and financial planners to speak to the players about business, so they can prepare for life after basketball as well. Basically, instead of going to college courses for one year, the players in the AmeriLeague will be attending seminars that are applicable to their basketball career and post-playing opportunities.

“We want to prepare players for every step of their life,” Brown said. “We want them succeeding in the NBA. We want them succeeding after their playing career is over. We want them succeeding in their other endeavors. We want them succeeding as members of their community. The money is great and can definitely help them and their family, but we’re also providing the resources to thrive for the rest of your life. We aren’t making them sit in an Algebra 2 class. The players aren’t caring about that. We’re teaching them to succeed in the NBA, build their brand and manage their money. That’s the biggest thing that I want to get out there: Yes, we’re giving big contracts to young players, but we’re helping them too.”

Also, the AmeriLeague is expecting to hire a number of experienced D-League coaches and former NBA players to coach the six teams, giving the one-and-done players even more guidance from experienced pros. So far, the AmeriLeague has hired former NBA veteran Tree Rollins and former Washington Wizards skills and development coach Joe Connelly III (who is the brother of Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly) as head coaches.

“We’re going to bring in some of the best young, up-and-coming coaches who are looking for their big break, as well as notable former NBA players to coach these six AmeriLeague teams,” Brown said. “We’re going after those kinds of coaches who can garner respect from prospects and really help these players develop.”

Brown has talked to NBA executives about the AmeriLeague’s model and he says they love the idea, particularly since players should be more mature and prepared for the NBA from being mentored by the retired athletes. Another benefit of the one-and-done players suiting up in this semi-pro league is that all of the involved parties won’t have to follow the strict NCAA rules. Players’ on-court time won’t be limited, they can focus all of their time on basketball and executives can scout them as much as they want. Of course, NBA officials would still have to limit their contact to some extent due to NBA rules, but the NCAA rules wouldn’t apply to the AmeriLeague teams. Also, Brown is planning for all six AmeriLeague teams to be based in Las Vegas, making it easy for scouts and executives to see all of the notable players in one trip.

“To be honest, the NBA executives and coaches and agents I’ve talked to love the concept because they feel this is needed,” Brown said. “As long as this is run right, the NBA is going to benefit because we’re going to prepare the kids and make sure they’re mature enough to succeed in the NBA.”

This season, the AmeriLeague season will tip off on November 9. Starting in 2016, the league planning to start their season sooner (likely on August 1) since that’s when there’s not much basketball content available and passionate fans are craving a hoops fix. Brown says that the 2016 season would run from August through December.

In addition to filling a void in the basketball schedule, this would also give players a chance to sign a second contract and make more money once the AmeriLeague season concludes. The one-and-done players could join an overseas team if they choose, while the veteran players could potentially join an NBA or D-League roster.

“The things we have going for us is the mentor program, the increased salaries, the tiered payment system and our league will last just a few months so players can go sign elsewhere and make even more money after playing with us,” Brown said. “We aren’t holding anyone hostage; we want them to maximize their earnings.”

As Brown has tried to launch this idea, he has gotten some push-back from people who are benefiting from the current one-and-done model. He knows those people will try to stop the AmeriLeague from launching and succeeding, but he’s not giving up.

“The majority of people who don’t want this to happen are the people who have their hands in the cookie jar making money off the high school players and the [current model],” Brown said. “They don’t want the top prospects joining us, and I understand that. Those people will be the first in line doubting us and saying it’s never going to happen, but I know that we can do this. When you’re talking about the money that we have to offer, anyone with common sense is going to hear this pitch. We know it’s not for everybody, but we believe we can find some players and families who believes this makes a lot of sense and they’ll act on it.

“Also, I know people don’t like change, but everyone complains about the shadiness of recruiting and the money changing hands under the table. Well, we’ve got nothing to hide! We’re putting the money on top of the table and saying, ‘Take it or leave it.’”

In terms of exposure for the players, Brown has reached a deal with Mandalay Sports Media to create a film about the Dealers’ journey, which will be aired on VICE Sports. Also, Brown says that he has also been in talks with VICE Sports about potentially broadcasting AmeriLeague games, so fans could watch these top prospects in action. The goal eventually is to have these games nationally televised on a station like ESPN or Fox Sports, much like “The Basketball Tournament” just did with their unique idea.

After talking to Brown and hearing all of the details of the AmeriLeague, I reached out to several former high school stars who went on to play professional basketball to ask: Would you have taken $1 million to play for a semi-pro team straight out of high school had this option been available to you?

Five players said yes, three players said no and one said maybe. Below are some of the responses from players, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

“Hell yes, I would’ve taken that!” said a five-star recruit who was one of the most highly coveted recruits in his class. “Hell yeah! No question.”

“I wouldn’t have taken it,” added a former McDonald’s All-American. “I wanted to experience college. One million dollars is nothing when you have guys like Draymond Green getting $80 million or more after going to school for four years. The risk is not worth the reward. Also, when you skip school like that, for some reason those guys get a negative reputation; for example, Brandon Jennings, Jeremy Tyler and Emmanuel Mudiay. I wouldn’t have taken it.”

“I would have accepted the deal,” added another former McDonald’s All-American. “I would’ve wanted to talk to my family and advisers and see what they thought. But if they agreed, I would’ve done it. It would be really hard not to take it.”

“Wow. I mean, I think I would have taken it, to be honest,” added another former McDonald’s All-American. “I’m sure a lot of guys will take that offer.”

“Nah, I wouldn’t have taken it because I grew up dreaming of playing college ball,” said another former McDonald’s All-American. “That’s the only reason why I wouldn’t do it. It’s a good idea though.”

With the significantly larger salaries, a mentor program designed to prepare players for the NBA and the ability to attract and showcase some of the game’s top young players, Brown’s AmeriLeague could be a game-changer in the basketball world.

“I believe this can be the top minor league for basketball,” Brown said. “This could be big.”

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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NBA Daily: Milwaukee Bucks Face Unique Situation

Despite a successful season, Tristan Tucker looks at why the Milwaukee Bucks face uncertainty regarding their future.

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Despite beating the dominant Brooklyn Nets in seven games, the Milwaukee Bucks face more uncertainty about their future than any other team in the playoffs. Last season, the Bucks accrued a 56-17 record that was good for best in the league. However, the team disappointed and saw a second-round exit at the hands of the Miami HEAT.

After that disappointing finish to a season that many believed would lead to an NBA Championship, the Bucks faced many criticisms. In response, Milwaukee rushed to fix many of those issues. Eric Bledsoe and a boatload of first-round picks were traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for defensive stalwart Jrue Holiday. The team then swapped out its bench rotation, filling it out with players like P.J. Tucker, Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes. The Bucks even got older rookies Sam Merrill and Mamadi Diakite to play quick spot minutes.

But Milwaukee’s biggest criticism was one that was left unresolved: the coaching situation. Head coach Mike Budenholzer is a two-time NBA Coach of the Year winner. Budenholzer first won the award after getting the Atlanta Hawks over 60 wins in 2014-15. Then, he did it again with the Bucks two years ago. Despite his metal, Budenholzer’s rotation decisions were met with criticism and confusion during the heartbreaking loss to Miami in 2020. Many fans around the league noticed that many stars were playing well over 40 minutes in big games and never played less than 36. Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s big names sat for extended periods of time.

For reference, Anthony Davis and LeBron James for the Los Angeles Lakers played over 36 minutes per game in the playoffs last season. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo did the same for the HEAT. Both of those teams moved on to the Finals. On the other hand, Khris Middleton led the team with 35.5 minutes per game in the playoffs while Giannis Antetokounmpo played just 30.8 minutes a night.

Despite this, Milwaukee’s brain trust kept Budenholzer into the 2020-21 season. And so far, that seems like the right decision. The Bucks came back in a big way in the playoffs, being the only team to sweep another team, Miami, in the first round. Then, the Bucks battled back into the series against the Nets, evening the series twice after falling back the same number of times before eventually overcoming the then-title favorites. The team is now matched up with the scorching-hot Hawks and has gone down 1-0 in the series.

All seems to be going relatively well for the Bucks despite the current series. Budenholzer seems to have learned his lesson, his stars are all playing over 37 minutes per game. In fact, the whole rotation seems to be clicking.

Middleton in particular put together the best postseason performance of his career in Game 6 against the Nets. The former All-Star ended that contest with 38 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals, missing just five of his 16 shots. This isn’t new for Middleton, who is the face of consistency in the league. Outside of an injury-marred 2016-17 season, Middleton has averaged around 20 points per game for almost six straight years.

In each of the last two seasons, Middleton came within inches of securing a 50/40/90 season. Both seasons have seen a respectable amount of attempts from deep and the charity stripe. Middleton even became the go-to guy on offense for the Bucks. Just watch his and his teammates’ confidence in him as he buried a four-point play to ice Game 6 against Brooklyn:

It isn’t just Middleton. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing more aggressively as of late, securing 30 points on 20 field goal attempts in Game 6 against the Nets. “The Greek Freak” followed that performance up with a 40-point showing to clinch that series, officially avenging last year. In Milwaukee’s Game 1 loss to Atlanta, Antetokounmpo put up 34 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists in 41 minutes.

Holiday hasn’t had the best playoff stint of his career, but there’s no denying how absurdly better the team’s perimeter defense is with Holiday substituting for Bledsoe and George Hill. The team’s faith in Holiday paid off with a 33-point, 10-assist showing that saw the middle Holiday brother connect on five 3-pointers.

Some of the most notable changes came from Milwaukee’s bench. Forbes and Portis in particular took the next step as players this year. Both players took one-year bets on themselves in the offseason that are sure to result in paydays this summer. Portis and Forbes ranked third and fourth in the regular season in three-point percentage, respectively. Forbes in particular became notorious for how he torched the HEAT in the first round from deep.

And yet, despite the positives, the Bucks still face one of the biggest crossroads of any team in the playoffs. And it all depends on how deep this team can go.

Despite beating the Nets, Budenholzer is still on the hot seat. While Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the series win over Brooklyn will go a long way in determining Budenholzer’s future, the two-time Coach of the Year still hasn’t made the Finals as a head coach. If Budenholzer and the Bucks lose to the Hawks, who they are much better than on paper, it could have a ripple effect on the franchise. In fact, several reports indicate that the team is already looking at potential replacements if things go south.

It’s an odd turnaround for a team that is experiencing the high of knocking off the title favorites. Middleton had a poor Game 1, and the team likely doesn’t lose that game if he is clicking. But Budenholzer’s questionable rotation decisions still plagued the team, with seldom-used Jeff Teague seeing six critical minutes against Trae Young.

Firing a head coach especially one as successful as Budenholzer has been in the regular season is no small task. The move would likely come with several other staff and roster changes.

Despite how great Portis and Forbes have been for the team, it’s unlikely Milwaukee can afford either moving forward. Portis and Forbes both have player options for next season, Portis at $3.8 million and Forbes at $2.4 million. There’s no way either remains on the Bucks at that price with a weak free-agent class on the horizon. And unfortunately, the Bucks don’t have the money to re-sign either to a huge number.

That path would lead to the team being extremely aggressive with what money and assets it does have. The team reportedly agreed to trade Donte DiVincenzo — who is now out with injury — for Bogdan Bogdanovic in a sign-and-trade before Bogdanovic refused to be traded there. Other players like Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton have tradeable salaries and could help bring in another impact player.

If the Bucks went the distance, Budenholzer would most likely stay and the franchise would avoid a culture reset. Forbes and Portis probably still depart, but other free agents like Tucker would likely be more inclined to re-sign for a smaller salary.

In that case, the team would be more inclined to sit back and watch internal growth. Players like Jordan Nwora, Merrill or Diakite could fill the holes left by potential Forbes or Portis departures. That isn’t to say the team wouldn’t be aggressive, but there isn’t a team left in the playoffs that would see such a huge change if they were eliminated. 

Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns was a Coach of the Year finalist. The Suns have the assets for internal and external growth if eliminated. The Hawks vastly improved from the last season, and have a direct pathway to getting better through guys like De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu. And the Los Angeles Clippers will likely retain Tyronn Lue and Kawhi Leonard this offseason, even if things go awry.

Unfortunately for Budenholzer, this is a unique situation. There haven’t been many do-or-die cases involving jobs this deep into the playoffs involving contenders. For Budenholzer, winning the title secures his job. If he fails to do so, it could spell the end of his Milwaukee tenure.

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Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers Game 3 predictions, picks and betting tips: Bet Home Court Dogs on Friday Night

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Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals takes place at 9pm ET on Friday. Our experts have made their predictions and betting picks for the Clippers vs Suns at the Staples Center.

Register an account with Bovada and bet on the 2021 NBA Finals with a $750 Free Bet.

Cynics will tell you that L.A. is a city of a million shattered dreams, and if Deandre Ayton’s last second alleyoop slam-dunk is anything to go by, those cynics aren’t exactly wrong.

The Phoenix Suns marched into a 2-0 series lead vs. the Clippers as a result of Ayton’s heroics. The 104-103 victory meant Monty Williams team now takes a firm grasp of the Western Conference finals.

Despite being down 2-0 in the series, it appears the average American bettor hasn’t given up hope on the Clippers staging part one of a comeback in game 3. Indeed, why would they? We’ve seen way over 400 teams return from a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs over the years. Plus, if Paul George (26 pts in Game 2) decides to wage war again, the Clippers do have half a chance, even without Leonard…

Besides, why wouldn’t you place a couple wagers on a mild underdog on the NBA betting lines?

All odds from Bovada Sportsbook. New customers get $750 free to bet on Suns @ Clippers

Western Conference Finals – Game 3: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Moneyline Odds 

Phoenix Suns: -115

Los Angeles Clippers: -107

Western Conference Finals – Game 3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Spread (DraftKings NBA Playoff Odds)

Phoenix Suns -1

Los Angeles Clippers -1

Los Angeles Clippers Preview

Other than the pain of a last second defeat, the big news coming out of the Clippers camp remains the fact that the team’s best player, Kawhi Leonard, is still out injured.

Leonard had averaged over 30.0 points per game during the playoffs until going down with a knee injury towards the end of Game 4 vs. Utah in the last round. The current prognosis is not good – he will almost certainly miss out again.

There is series-hope for Clippers fans in the form of SG Paul George, who himself is averaging 26.6 points per game in the postseason; not to mention the fact that L.A. has twice before returned from a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs. But they have to get something going in Game 3 – no team has ever returned from 3-0 down in NBA playoff history.

Nevertheless, what hope is left is dangling by a thread at present. Up against a full-strength Phoenix team that’s riding high on the confidence of a last-minute win, it’s going to be tough evening’s work for George, Jackson and co. come Thursday night.

That said, L.A. does have home-court advantage and di just lose by the 1 point. So, it’s little surprise the two teams have been given similar odds – Game 3 is anyone’s game.

Phoenix Suns Preview

The Suns did what they needed to do, took advantage of being at home for games 1 and 2 and now take a lead to LA. Game 2 was on a knife edge throughout, so they’re not as dominant over the Clippers as some may have thought, but the 2-0 lead is huge. As mentioned above, they’ll be hoping that Leonard can’t make it to the court on Thursday night, but even if he does, they can rely upon the likes of Devin Booker, Cameron Payne and game 2 hero Deandre Ayton to stifle the Clippers. They’ve now won 9 straight in the playoffs and they’ll take some stopping to make it 10.

Chris Paul is expected back from a stint on COVID protocol soon. But Game 3 might come too early. Expect Paul to miss out again.

Other than that, the Suns are surely shining bright en route to Los Angeles following Ayton’s heroics in the previous clash. The Clippers have caused them problems throughout the first two games, but the Suns seem to have that little bit extra in the tank: more guile; more nous, and, even if Leonard could take to the court with the Clippers, – arguably – more talent.

Devin Booker has been in superb form in the series thus far, putting up 40 points over the course of the first two contests – look for him on the player prop market.

Overall, there’s a reason the Suns have been made favorites by the NBA oddsmakers, and there’s no reason to expect anything other than a continuation of the their dominance in Game 3…

Western Conference Finals – Game 3: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction

We’ve spent all this time waxing lyrical about Phoenix, but the Clippers deserve a result. They have pulled out all the stops in the absence of Leonard and, in our humble opinion, eventually hard work pays off.

We are vouching for the homecourt underdogs on the moneyline: Clippers to win at -107

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NBA Finals Betting Odds : 2021 NBA Championship Odds Update as Conference Finals Continue

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The 2021 NBA Conference Finals are now underway and so look at the updated Championships odds for the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers.

Register an account with Bovada and bet on the 2021 NBA Finals with a $750 Free Bet.

Few expected to see the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks L.A. Clippers, and Phoenix Suns make up the final four of the NBA Championship Playoffs. But each team has made it this far on merit, and the performances don’t lie – the cream always rises to the top.

In the Western Conference Final, DeAndre Ayton broke Clippers hearts last night when, with 0.5 seconds remaining in the fourth, he came up trumps with a sublime alleyoop dunk. Those 2 points put the Suns 104-103 ahead, as they took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.

The Hawks are all set to travel to the Bucks for the first game of the Eastern Conference finals tonight, in a game that will see two of the NBA’s finest talents, Atlanta G Trae Young and Milwaukee PF Giannis Antetokounmpo come face to face.

2021 NBA Championship Odds

With games coming thick and fast and players bouncing into and out of form and IR in this year’s epic conference finals, it’s about time to check in and see what the sportsbooks make of all the action, as we take a look at the 2021 NBA odds for the 2021 national championship.

Clippers NBA Championship Odds Continue to Dwindle Without Kawhi Leonard

It’s hard not to feel bad for Clippers fans: without their superb small forward Kawhi Leonard, and the 25 points per game he tends to put up, life was always going to be tough vs. the Phoenix, even without the Suns having their electrifying playmaker Chris Paul out on court. And so, it has proven.

After that tough final second loss, the Clippers have seen their odds drop from +440 at the start of the playoffs to between +1500 (FanDuel). If they lose again on Thursday (June 24), expect to see the odds reach into the +infinity category, since no NBA team has EVER come back from 3-0 down in the playoffs.

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue must now be thinking about just wheeling Kawhi Leonard out there in a wheelchair for one final assault. But don’t write his team off just yet: L.A came within 1point and they did that without their best player – there’s still a chance; they make it through and we’ll find out for sure come Thursday.

Los Angeles Clippers NBA Finals Odds: +1500 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

Suns’ Odds to win NBA Championship Continue to Rise

The bad news for the Clippers is that Chris Paul is expected to be back in action for the Suns quickly. The diminutive playmaker broke COVID protocol, which was stupid, but did get himself vaccinated beforehand (not so stupid) and will be available sooner rather than later as a result.

Plus, Devin Booker more than carried the mantle in Paul’s absence during last night’s second meet. Booker put up 40 points in total as the Suns asserted their dominance.

It’s the strength in depth and the team’s ability to hurt its opposition all over the court that has seen the odds on the Suns continue to shorten. Monty Williams’ team began the playoffs as massive outsiders at +2500. But their odds are now just +115.

Phoenix Suns NBA Finals Odds: +115 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

NBA Betting Lines not Favoring the Hawks

Atlanta’s incredible 4-3 series defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers is the stuff of legend and the Hawks deserve a tremendous amount of credit for pulling that result out of the bag; even if the 76ers were missing Joel Emblid for a few games.

Enough about that though. With players like G Trae Young to boast among the ranks, you’d give the Hawks a chance against anyone, including vs. the Bucks this evening.

That said, Milwaukee is a big ask for Nate McMillan’s team. During the regular season, the Bucks posted the highest field goal accuracy (91.8), the 2nd most rebounds per game, and the 5th most 3-pointers per game – they are a team that can punish you if given just half-a-chance.

Sorry Atlanta fans. But it seems likely to us that the McMillan Cinderella story ends here.

Then again… we’ve been wrong before and at +1300, it’s worth a Hail Mary for sure!

Atlanta Hawks’ NBA Finals Odds: +1300 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

The Bucks are the Betting Favorites to be NBA Champions

The Bucks began the playoffs with NBA Vegas odds of +800 on the moneyline. If you are one of the lucky ones who picked them up on those odds, hold tight: you’re looking good right now; Milwaukee fans are dreaming of being NBA Champions for the first time in 50 years.

Greek sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on fire throughout the Bucks’ postseason run, putting up 30 points in six games thus far! With Middleton and Brook Lopez, in particular, among the supporting cast, the Bucks offense puts up big numbers and rarely turns the ball over without something to show for it.

It’s not that the Hawks don’t have playmakers of their own – they do. But defensively, they don’t touch this Bucks team that features both Jrue Holiday (DPOY) and Antekounmpo (2X DPOY). That’s why the odds are so short on Milwaukee and so long on Atlanta – the sportsbooks don’t fancy the Hawks to score enough.

Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA Finals Odds: +105 – Click HERE to bet with Bovada Online

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