With worst fears swirling around Giannis after Game 4 injury, NBA betting odds shift significantly
This NBA season has been defined by the unexpected. Early NBA betting odds did not favor the outcome that we are now on track to see. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers were favored to repeat as champions. And high hopes only intensified for the Brooklyn Nets after they traded for James Harden in January, turning their dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving into the NBA’s latest Big Three.
Neither of those teams is still standing at this point of the NBA playoffs. The Lakers fell to the Phoenix Suns in the first round, losing the final three games after leading 2-1. The Nets went down to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, losing a Game 7 thriller at home.
And a big part of why the NBA landscape is as it is as we approach the NBA Finals is the thing that has defined this season and these playoffs more than anything else: injuries, injuries, and more injuries.
Injuries and COVID absences define NBA season–and NBA betting odds
The list is as long as a CVS receipt or a child’s Christmas list.
At some point in the regular season or postseason, we have seen notable injury issues for LeBron, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Jamal Murray, CJ McCollum, Jaylen Brown, LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Jamal Murray, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Trae Young.
And that doesn’t involve COVID-related absences. Those took out the likes of Jayson Tatum, Zach LaVine, Jimmy Butler, Seth Curry, De’Aaron Fox, much of the Toronto Raptors’ roster and coaching staff, several Boston Celtics players, and many, many others for chunks of time. Or injuries to other notable names like Myles Turner, Danny Green, Will Barton, Jusuf Nurkic, and Lauri Markkanen.
It has still been an extremely exciting season despite all of the injuries and absences. But there is no denying how much of an effect it has had on the season. And it has certainly had a major effect on NBA betting as well.
Greek Freak goes down–and so do the Bucks–in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals
But in this season full of blow after blow after blow after blow, Giannis Antetokounmpo had navigated the season largely unscathed. He did have a six-game absence in April due to left knee issues, but he only missed five other games otherwise.
And then the unthinkable happened last night, altering the course of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals and potentially the rest of the series and the NBA Finals. After pulling the Bucks within eight early in the third quarter, Giannis attempted to contest an alley oop on the next possession, and he landed awkwardly. He did not return, and the Trae Young-less Atlanta Hawks strolled to a 22-point win to tie the series.
The early word was a hyperextended left knee, but the fears are that the Greek Freak suffered a “severe ACL injury”, according to reports.
With the worst feared about Giannis’s availability going forward, NBA betting odds have been altered to reflect the likely fortunes of a Bucks team forced to live life without one of the NBA’s best players.
Updated NBA Betting Odds
Odds to Win the NBA Finals
- Phoenix Suns -165
- Milwaukee Bucks +450
- Atlanta Hawks +550
- Los Angeles Clippers +700
Odds to Win the Eastern Conference Finals
- Atlanta Hawks +106
- Milwaukee Bucks -124
Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 Betting Odds
- Spread: Hawks +2.5 (-112), Bucks -2.5 (-108)
- Total: OVER 216 (-110), UNDER 216 (-110)
- Moneyline: Hawks +116, Bucks -136
Prior to Game 4, NBA betting odds gave the Bucks the edge over the Suns. And with the Hawks down 2-1 and without Young, the Hawks were out to +4000 to win the NBA title.
And now? Updated odds still favor the Bucks to win the Eastern Conference finals, but things have tightened and changed significantly across the NBA betting board.
There are two big questions surrounding the Bucks now. The first one obviously is how serious Giannis’s injury is. The second one is, if he is indeed done for the series and beyond, if they can beat the Hawks without him and then beat either the Suns or Clippers in the NBA Finals.
In the regular season, the Bucks went 6-5 without Giannis. But the stakes were not as high in any of those games as they are now. Can they emotionally pick themselves up tomorrow night and beyond?
Some teams rise in these moments. The Hawks responded in a major way last night without Young, controlling the game even before Giannis went down. The Suns won the first two games of the Western Conference finals without Chris Paul.
Some teams don’t. Without Anthony Davis, the Lakers looked lost against the Suns. Even superhuman Kevin Durant could not save the Nets against the Bucks, with Kyrie Irving out and James Harden on one good leg.
In which category will the Bucks fall if they don’t have Giannis? Starting tomorrow night, we might have to find out.
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