The Los Angeles Lakers opened this NBA season a couple of weeks ago as the favorites on the NBA odds to repeat as champions and nothing that LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Co. have done has changed that so far as L.A. remains the clear title favorite at +250.
Championship Odds To Win | 2021 NBA Expert Analysis
Entering Thursday, Jan. 7, the Lakers are 6-2 with those losses by seven at home to the Los Angeles Clippers and by eight at home vs. Portland. LeBron James is playing at an MVP level at age 36.
Back on Dec. 30, LeBron extended his double-digit scoring streak to 1,000 consecutive games, becoming the first player in league history to reach that mark. James’s double-digit scoring streak – which began on Jan. 6, 2007 – has far eclipsed Michael Jordan’s previous NBA record of 866 consecutive 10-point performances from 1986-2001. James has finished with 10+ points in all but eight regular season contests in his career.
James owns 845 career regular season wins, ranking ninth on the NBA’s all-time victories list, after surpassing Kobe Bryant and Clifford Robinson on July 30, 2020. LeBron sits 9 wins away from moving past Lakers legend Derek Fisher for eighth all-time. The active leader in wins, James is one of 18 current or former NBA players to achieve the 800 career wins milestone.
Anthony Davis is also playing at an MVP level and recently became one of 11 active players with 300 career double-doubles, reaching the milestone in his 531st game. In Tuesday’s close win in Memphis, Davis had his 43rd career game with three steals and three blocks in a game, good for ninth all-time.
The Milwaukee Bucks remain second-favorites at +500 followed by the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers both at +600. Neither the Bucks nor Nets have really played to expectations quite yet.
On Monday, Bucks star and two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had the 15th 40-point game of his career. His 15 games with 40+ points are the second-most in Bucks history, trailing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who had 55 40-point games in his Bucks career. The Bucks are leading the league in both field goal percentage (.499) and 3-point field goal percentage (.436) this season.The Nets will remain without superstar Kevin Durant until next Tuesday because he’s in COVID quarantining. After missing all of last season, Durant has been spectacular until being sidelined. He’s averaging 28.2 ppg (.514 FG, .455 3FG, .885 FT), 7.0 rpg, 4.8 apg and 1.2 spg in 34.1 mpg and is plus-75 in 205 minutes played. He is currently sidelined (health and safety protocols).
KD boasts an offensive rating of 118.5, defensive rating of 101.8 and net rating of 16.8. He has scored at least 20 points in all six games and has notched 25+ points in each of his last five games. The last Net to tally 25+ points in five or more straight games was Deron Williams in the 2011-12 season (six straight from 2/11 – 2/20/12).
Kyrie Irving also has been great for the Nets — KD and KI have tallied 25+ points in the same game four times already this season. No Nets duo recorded 25+ points in a game more than two times last season. Durant and Irving’s four games with 25+ points are already the most in a season for a Nets duo since Vince Carter and Devin Harris scored 25+ points in the same game 13 times in the 2008-09 campaign.
The problem is the Nets are a bit thin behind those two after the season-ending injury to Spencer Dinwiddie.
One notable thing about the early season is the number of blowouts. As of this writing, there have been 26 games decided by 20+ points this season, with 18 different teams accounting for those 26 wins. That is tied for the most such games through a season’s first 105 games in NBA history.
The Toronto Raptors won the title just two seasons ago but are really struggling in the early going and are +5000 to win a title. The Raptors were 48-4 all of last season when they had a double-digit lead in a game but already have lost five such games this year.
“We just need to get a little bit grittier, get a little bit tougher and a little bit nastier, and have a little bit of a swagger to us,” All-Star guard Kyle Lowry said. “Right now, we have no swagger to us. We have nothing. There’s nothing to us. Teams are looking at us like, ‘All right, let’s go eat’ … That’s not a good feeling.”
The Philadelphia 76ers (+1400) look like the East’s best team so far. The Sixers are the only team in the NBA posting a defensive rating under 100 points per 100 possessions. Joel Embiid is averaging 25 points and 13 boards, and the Sixers haven’t lost any of the five games in which he’s played. Philly has outscored its opponents by 21.2 points per 100 when Embiid has been on the floor.Early NBA Finals prediction
- Lakers beat 76ers.
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