NBA 2021-22 Preview: Lakers and Nets on Finals Collision Course

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Carmelo Anthony has been added to the LA Lakers roster ahead of their challenge for an NBA Championship crown.

Carmelo Anthony

There will be exactly three months between last season’s NBA champions being crowned and the new campaign getting underway, as hoop dreams begin again for all 30 teams.

Milwaukee Bucks start the 2021-22 season as the reigning champions, making it four different winners in the last four years.

Can Giannis and Co. retain the title, will there be a new name on the trophy or will one of the NBA’s big names come to the fore?

Lakers the Team to Beat in the West

Having started the last campaign as the hot favourites, Los Angeles Lakers crashed out in the first round of the play-offs at the hands of the Phoenix Suns.

Despite the disappointment of falling short, the Lakers are 4/1 to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season and it’s hard to back against Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony and co.

Their roster still looks very strong and with Lebron out to match Michael Jordan’s six NBA rings – with ‘King James’ currently on four and now 36 years of age – he will see this as the season he again has to deliver.

Phoenix went on to be crowned Western Conference champions, but many feel they were punching above their weight and Monty Williams’ men are 11/5 to win the Pacific Division – which also includes the Lakers, LA Clippers and Golden State.

Nets Stars Ready to Shine

Any line-up that includes James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant has to be respected and has to be classed as a contender for the big prize.

Even with Irving missing and Harden injury-hit, Brooklyn Nets reached the Eastern Conference semi-finals, before suffering a narrow 4-3 series defeat to the Bucks.

The Nets, in their many guises, have never won the NBA crown and this looks to be their best chance of claiming the biggest prize in Basketball, with Steve Nash’s squad 2/1 in the Outright betting.

Milwaukee are seen as the biggest rivals to Brooklyn, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading their charge for back-to-back titles.

Some feel that the defending champions will find it hard to reach the heights of last term, but they can’t be ruled out with the ‘Greek Freak’ in the ranks, with Giannis 29/4 to be named Regular Season MVP.

It was actually the Philadelphia 76ers that clinched top spot in the East last season, with their hopes very much resting on the shoulders of Joel Embiid. If the seven-foot center stays healthy, they are an interesting prospect at 17/1 to go all the way.

Doncic and Dallas Lead the Underdogs

For those punters seeking a bigger price contender for the NBA title, there are a couple of teams to consider going into the 2021-22 season.

Dallas Mavericks finished fifth in the Western Conference last season and in Luka Doncic, who is 17/4 to be the NBA’s leading scorer, they have a standout performer. The Point guard is just 22 but has averaged over 28 points per game over the last two seasons and can drag his franchise into the play offs.

The Mavericks are 27/1 in the Outright market and another outside fancy are a similar price, with Miami Heat 24/1 to win their first NBA title since 2013.

The addition of experienced Point guard Kyle Lowry – who won the title with the Toronto Raptors in 2019 – will undoubtedly improve the Heat, as will Power forward PJ Tucker.

The 36-year-old won the title with the Bucks last year and he and the other new additions see Miami placed as the 4/5 favourites to win the Southeast Division.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Warren has been employed as a sport journalist for over two decades and as well as years of written experience, has also worked in other areas of the media including radio and television. Football has always been his number one passion, but has also commentated and written on a number of other sports including golf, cricket, tennis and rugby.

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