The 2016-2017 NBA season is almost upon us and, as if often the case when the game's sporting giants prepare for their time in the spotlight, fans, pundits and punters are all thinking about what could be.
For those who have never cast their eye across the Atlantic and towards the NBA Championship, this basketball betting guide is on hand to outline some of the best bookies and strategies you need to know for the forthcoming season.
Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Eastern Conference went on to beat the Western Conference's Golden State Warriors in the finale. Taking the series by four games to three, Tyronn Lue's side looked an imposing force on the court, thanks in part to the NBA's MVP, LeBron James.
With few changes to either team in recent months, there's a strong possibility that both will win through their conferences and earn a spot in the finals once again. Using this as a starting point, let's take a look at some of the latest NBA trends and basketball betting odds for the 2016-2017 season.
When it comes to the Atlantic Division, the Boston Celtics currently top the betting odds at bet365. Priced at 10/11 just ahead of the Toronto Raptors (11/10), the Celtics currently have an Elo rating of 1,540 and, according to average projections, they're likely to go 47-35 this season.
Last season, the Celtics managed to notch up 48 wins and they look like a smart choice for the conference. But when you look beyond this, it appears as though the Celtics will have to play second fiddle to the Cavaliers. 6/1 on an Eastern Conference win at NetBet is complemented by 16/1 for the NBA Championship at Coral.
With the Cavaliers being on red-hot form last season, the oddsmakers are bet365 are having a hard time looking beyond Lue's men in the Central Division this season. 1/14 is an extremely short price against the second favourites, the Indiana Pacers (11/1).
With an Elo rating of 1,696, the Cavs will start the season with the stats on their side. Projections of 57 wins and an 11% chance of winning the title are complemented by 7/2 outright betting odds at Coral. Despite these positives, the NBA betting markets are currently leaning towards the Warriors this time around.
A much tighter division than many, bet365's odds are weighted in favour of the Atlantic Hawks this season. Despite the Hawks being an aging side, a sterling season from Dwight Howard could lift them and, if this happens, a bet on them to win the division should pay dividends. When it comes to the bigger picture, 33/1 at Coral for the NBA Championship might offer some value, but with the Cavaliers having too much firepower for the likes of Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap.
Picking between Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers won't be easy this season. The odds at bet365 currently favour Jazz (11/5), but the Trail Blazers caused teams a lot of problems last season with their pick-setters.
Mason Plumlee. Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu were all impressive last time out, which means 5/2 at bet365 could be a shrewd Division bet. Unfortunately, with coaches starting to find a way to neutralise the Blazer's big men, Conference and NBA Championship betting trends are less attractive at 40/1 and 100/1 respectively.
If the Warriors are going to win the NBA Championship this season, then they'll first have to clear out their Division. A 1,693 Elo rating and 1,829 top Carm-Elo rating suggest the Warriors will do just that. With Kevin Durrant signing ahead of the new season, there could be some teething problems when the season kicks off.
But with Stephen Curry now in a position to play a more open role and Draymond Green likely to become Defensive Player of the Year, this shouldn't matter too much. 10/31 for the Conference at NetBet and 8/11 for the title at Coral could be bankers (albeit short ones) this season.
The San Antonio Spurs often get overlooked in favour of the Cavaliers and Warriors, but don't get it twisted: they're a strong side. With 67 wins last season and the partnership between Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge the best in the Southwest Division, the Spurs look worth all of the 1/12 Division betting price currently on offer at bet365.
For all the positives, it's impossible to ignore the fact that Tim Duncan is now out of the picture. The iconic player's retirement has left a hole in the Spurs' starting line-up; the likes of Danny Green and Pau Gasol will have to step up to the plate, find their shots and scoop up rebounds if they're going to repay anyone picking them for Championship success at 8/1 with Coral.
The 2016-2017 NBA Championship race is set to be another highly entertaining affair. Although the Cavaliers and the Warriors look set to make it to the finals once again, dark horses like the Spurs and the Celtics could shake things up if a few things go their way.
Whichever way the odds swing and wherever the title ends up, the season will be a hive of activity. If you're looking to place a few bets on the top teams, visit Gambling.com's top basketball betting partners today. If you liked the odds you're seeing from NetBet, head over today to get your exclusive sign up bonus!