2020 NBA Title Odds: Lakers, Bucks Betting Favorites for 22-Team Restart Format

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 3, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James dribbles past Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

With the NBA reportedly on the verge of voting on a 22-team return-to-play format, the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks have been installed as betting favorites to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy. 

Per updated odds from Caesars Palace, the Lakers are the overall betting favorite at +200 (bet $100 to win $200), followed by the Bucks at +275. 

The Los Angeles Clippers at +325 are the only other team with odds better than 10-1 to win the 2019-20 NBA Finals. The Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics are tied for the fourth-best odds (+1500), with the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors (+1700) and Denver Nuggets (+2200) in the top seven. 

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA board of governors intend to approve a proposal to resume this season beginning on July 31 with 22 teams centralized at ESPN's Wide World of Sports resort in Orlando, Florida. The call is scheduled to take place Thursday at 12:30 p.m. ET.

The format will include 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams, eight regular-season games, a possible play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed in both conferences and a full 16-team postseason. 

The 22 teams included will be the top eight teams in each conference based on standings when the season was suspended in March, as well as the Washington Wizards, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. 

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Based on their current title odds, the Philadelphia 76ers (+2500) could be a solid sleeper pick. They will likely be healthy, with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan reporting in April that Ben Simmons' back injury "all but dissipated."

The Sixers have been dreadful on the road this season (10-24), but no one will be playing true home or road games in this format. 

Still, there's nothing to suggest right now that the Lakers and Bucks aren't the two best teams in the NBA. Milwaukee was leading the East by 6.5 games when play was suspended and had the league's best record (53-12). 

Los Angeles was closing the gap on Milwaukee for the top overall record at 49-14 and had back-to-back marquee wins over the Bucks and Clippers in the final weekend before the regular season was paused.  

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