Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

By Mark Strotman | | 5 mins

Brooklyn Nets NBA Title Odds: How Kyrie's Return Changes Outlook

Brooklyn Nets NBA Title Odds: How Kyrie's Return Changes Outlook
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The Brooklyn Nets’ personnel have been an almost exact representation of Murphy’s Law this season. Kyrie Irving missed the team’s first 35 games because of his unvaccinated status. Positive COVID-19 tests ravaged the locker room over the course of a few weeks, postponing three separate games because they couldn’t field the minimum number of players (8).

Sharpshooter Joe Harris hasn’t played since Thanksgiving after undergoing ankle surgery. And Kevin Durant has been dinged up (in addition to being one of the Nets on the COVID list in December).

And yet through it all, one constant has remained: Sportsbooks and betting sites love the Nets.

Brooklyn was the prohibitive NBA betting favorite entering the season. That didn’t change when the Nets ruled that Irving wouldn’t play until he was vaccinated. That didn’t change when the COVID protocols wrecked the roster. And it hasn’t changed since the team recently dropped four of five games.

They head into the heart of their schedule with a 25-13 record, good for second in a wide-open Eastern Conference, and with +245 odds to win the NBA Finals on most major betting apps. With the expectation that they’ll have a healthy Durant, Irving, and James Harden this time around, there isn’t a better roster top to bottom in the NBA.

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Irving Returns To Part-Time Role

The Nets initially ruled that Irving would not be allowed to join the team until he could play in full — the state of New York requires proof of vaccination to enter indoor arenas and Irving is unvaccinated. But the rash of COVID cases that swept through the locker room changed things, and Irving is now back with the team and playing in all of its road contests. Irving made his debut on Saturday in Indiana, scoring 22 points (including 10 in the fourth) to help Brooklyn to a come-from-behind victory.

As of now, there is no plan for the state of New York to change its mandate requiring vaccines for indoor entry, meaning Irving will miss all of Brooklyn’s home games. That would mean he’d be capped at a maximum of four games each playoff series if Brooklyn was the lower seed, and just three if Brooklyn (currently second in the East) was the higher seed. Still, a part-time Irving is better than no Irving, and his return is a boon for a Nets team that — despite its star power — was in need of a third scorer.

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Harden, Durant Leading The Way

Brooklyn Nets NBA Title Odds: How Kyrie's Return Changes Outlook 1

Any bet on the Nets to win the NBA championship is a bet on Durant and Harden playing their best basketball. The good news is both are doing so right now. Durant is a legitimate MVP candidate (+240 NBA odds on DraftKings, behind only Steph Curry’s +120 odds), leading the NBA in scoring (29.9 points) on 52/37/88 splits. Harden started incredibly slow but is averaging 27.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 9.9 assists since Christmas. He’s all the way back.

Those two are All-Pros in their own right, but the Nets become dominant when adding Irving to the mix. Here’s how they’ve fared over the last two seasons when all three are on the floor together:

Oddsmakers, of course, are banking on that happening in May and June. All three have pretty lengthy injury histories, but if they’re healthy they’re the best in the East and, in a playoff setting, the NBA.

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Nets In A Wide-Open East

The NBA is crowded at the top, with a handful of contenders vying to dethrone Giannis and the Bucks. But most of that dominance is in the West, where the Warriors, Suns, Jazz, and Grizzlies tout four of the five best records in the NBA as of this writing. The Bulls, Bucks, Heat, and Sixers all have the star power to compete in the East, but it’s clearly Brooklyn’s to lose. With all the issues they’ve had, they’re still 25-13 and haven’t played close to their best basketball yet.

It’s a safe bet that they’ll flip the switch in the postseason when the stars come out. Milwaukee and Miami have most recently been to the NBA Finals from the East, but Brooklyn’s cast makes them the prohibitive favorites to come out of the East when looking at the NBA futures market. Oddsmakers agree, giving them +130 odds on top New York betting apps to represent the East in the Finals.

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About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports.