Jamal Murray

  • Several teams with short odds to win the NBA Finals have big injuries to key players.
  • Due to COVID-19, the league has a condensed NBA Season.
  • LaMelo Ball was favored to win Rookie of the Year before getting injured.

LOS ANGELES – The 2020-2021 NBA Season has seen a lot of injuries across the league, and betting lines are starting to be affected by this trend.

The injuries have affected the Rookie of the Year (ROTY) race, the League MVP race, and the betting lines surrounding both.

Additionally, those betting on the NBA Finals have been struggling, as the favorite Brooklyn Nets have dealt with injuries all season.

Condensed Season Causing Injuries

One of the big reasons why many believe the injuries are happening this season has to do with the condensed schedule caused by COVID-19. Since the NBA season was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak hitting the league, the season didn’t end until October.

Normally, the NBA season would end in June and would begin at the end of October. The season being pushed back to October caused the overall 2020-2021 season to pushed back.

The 2020-2021 NBA season started on December 22, only giving about two months between.

This shortened off-season led to both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat who battled in the NBA Finals just a few months prior to the season start to suffer critical injuries early on.

Anthony Davis of the Lakers saw a right calf and heel injuries that kept him out of the rotation for 30 games. Following this, LeBron James of the Lakers suffered an ankle sprain that he is still recovering from.

This hit the LA Lakers’ odds drastically, as the defending champions were initially the favorite to win the NBA Finals, they now have the second shortest odds.

Odds To Win 2021 NBA Finals

  • Brooklyn Nets +250
  • Los Angeles Lakers +300
  • L.A. Clippers +550
  • Utah Jazz +800
  • Milwaukee Bucks +1000
  • Philadelphia 76ers +1200
  • Phoenix Suns +1600

On the Miami Heat side, star forward Jimmy Butler has been in and out of the lineup all season dealing with a plethora of injuries from a sprained ankle to knee issues. Star center Bam Adebayo has also been in and out of the lineup this season with knee troubles. The Heat are currently seventh in the East and fighting to maintain a playoff spot after losing early on in the season with their stars hurt.

This has affected more than just the two finals rivals as well. Many prominent all-stars have missed games this season dealing with injuries due to the condensed season.

Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Jamal Murray, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James just to name a few are all major players in the league who have missed a lot of games due to injuries.

“I think it’s more visible this year because of the names,” said Josh Lloyd, host of Locked On Fantasy Basketball. “Fatigue is obviously a problem. It can’t be dismissed, but I also think some of the complaints about it is due to the players that we are missing.”

Player Awards Affected

One major hit to the season has been the big ROTY race. LaMelo Ball was the runaway favorite but suffered a wrist fracture that sidelined him indefinitely, affecting the NBA betting odds.

Number one overall pick Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ odds immediately shortened following Ball’s injury, as betting fans leaned in on the star guard with LaMelo out.

Melo has been cleared to return, however, which immediately made him the favorite to win again.

The NBA MVP award saw similar issues this season. Initially, it was a two-horse race between LeBron James and Joel Embiid, but both players missed significant games due to injury.

Now, betting lines are leaning towards Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, despite neither team being particularly high in the standings, Golden State, in particular, being the 10th seed in the West.

2021 NBA MVP – Odds To Win

  • Nikola Jokic -425
  • Joel Embiid +350
  • Steph Curry +1500
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +2500
  • Damian Lillard +2800
  • James Harden +3300
  • Luka Doncic +4500
  • LeBron James +5500
  • Chris Paul +10000

Those betting on NBA season props will be clearly affected by the many injuries in the league, with this being one of the more unpredictable outcomes for awards in years.

The Brooklyn Nets

The big story this season, however, is the many injuries that the Brooklyn Nets have suffered. The Nets are the current favorite to win the NBA Finals, but they have suffered from injuries on all fronts this year.

From role players like Spencer Dinwiddie suffering a torn ACL earlier in the season, to Kevin Durant who is already coming off of a ruptured Achilles being in and out of the lineup all season with leg issues, to James Harden suffering a hamstring injury, the injury gods have not been kind to Brooklyn.

With all the injuries on top teams, longshot betting fans may be the ones to thrive this season taking an underdog team who has been healthy all season.

NBA GM’s Sound Off

The injuries have gotten so bad, that team GM’s have begun sounding off on the issue. Despite the NBA’s claim that injuries are down slightly from previous seasons, teams and their medical staff have publicly condemned the NBA condensed season and the future health issues players may suffer because of this.

“Several NBA general managers and team health officials say the unorthodox and compressed schedule, attempting to make up games postponed due to COVID-related issues, has led to a rash of injuries around the league, with several teams fearing player health has reached a boiling point,” said Baxter Holmes of ESPN in a report on the season’s injuries. “These concerns have been voiced in interviews with ESPN by a number of GMs, members of coaching staffs and athletic training staffers, though there is universal acknowledgment that the schedule is the byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic.”

One veteran assistant coach has called it the hands-down “worse schedule” they have seen in 25 years in the league while another NBA head coach has described this season as “brutal.”

There is no telling how many more teams will suffer from major injuries, as GM’s view the remainder of the season as “survival mode.” What is clear, is that the betting lines will continue to be affected by all the major injuries this season.

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