At long last, New Jersey online bettors see relevant NBA Championship odds at varied sportsbooks for the first time in three months.

The NBA sparked that dynamic Thursday by announcing a July 31 return, bringing futures wagering back into the spotlight at NJ online sportsbooks.

The season is expected to run until the second week of October, and 22 teams are involved.

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Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando will be the single site for a campus for all games, practices, and housing for the remainder of the season, the league said in a statement.

Books in New Jersey began posting odds Thursday afternoon and evening.

Sixers and Nets odds at NJ sportsbooks

The Philadelphia 76ers are +2700 to win the NBA title at FanDuel, +2500 at PointsBet and BetMGM.

The Brooklyn Nets are +6000 at FanDuel and PointsBet and +5000 at BetMGM.

Not much is different at the top though. The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are the top three across the board.

At FanDuel, the Bucks are +240 with the Lakers at +270 and the Clippers at +340.

PointsBet has the Bucks at +250, the Lakers at +275 and the Clippers at +350.

BetMGM posts the Bucks at +240, the Lakers at +275, and the Clippers at +350.

Conference championships for most teams are 40%-50% of their price for winning it all.

There is consistency across the books, with the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and defending champion Toronto Raptors in the +1200 to + 2500 range.

There are also wrinkles, with the Nets being only +5000 (50-1) at BetMGM and PointsBet labeling a longshot for the ages with the Washington Wizards at +100000 (1000-1). Even that’s generous.

Jumping back into NBA betting

Sportsbooks took a mixed view of whether to post NBA futures right away.

The new format will take crowds and home-field advantages out of the mix. Perhaps teams like the Celtics and Sixers should be shorter priced.

FanDuel nonetheless jumped right into the fray, posting its odds with 22 teams. More books on Thursday joined them.

“We’re comfortable with where we’re at on the futures market,” a FanDuel source told NJGamblingSites. “That’s not going to change much right now.”

True, but one book displayed pragmatic paranoia.

Kevin Durant: The X factor in the NBA restart

Because the season was extended, speculation abounds about the potential return of Nets superstar Kevin Durant.

He is not supposed to play this year because he’s been rehabbing a ruptured Achilles suffered during the NBA Finals last year.

But what if he DOES play?

Taking no chances, Caesars Sportsbook on Wednesday lowered Brooklyn’s championship odds from 750-1 to 60-1.

It’s one of the largest odds drops ever for a maybe.

Durant is synonymous with gambling. The Nets rolled the dice with him, signing Durant to a four-year $164 million contract last July.

They knew the former league MVP and member of two Golden State Warriors championship teams probably couldn’t play this year. They signed him anyway.

Durant, when healthy, is transformative. He would make the Nets serious contenders if he could play all year. He has looked good in workouts while rehabbing.

But would he rush back? We shall see.

NBA restart: how it works

So how does the NBA restart season work?

Eight games will conclude the regular season. Play-in games for the last playoff spot will occur if needed. A post-season with 16 teams — eight from the Eastern and Western conferences — ensues.

The 2019-20 season will conclude with a traditional playoff format with best-of-seven series in the first round, conference semifinals, conference finals, and the NBA Finals.

The season would end around Oct. 12.

The NBA is planning to have uniform, daily testing for the coronavirus within the Disney campus environment, sources told ESPN.

If a player tests positive for the virus, the league’s intent would be to remove that player from the team to quarantine and treat individually — and continue to test other team members as they play on, sources indicated.

Where the Sixers and Nets stand

Once the campaign launches, the Sixers and Nets illustrate two of the major nuances of the resumption format.

Philadelphia is guaranteed a playoff spot, tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers. The Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat hold down the first four spots.

The Sixers and Pacers are only two games out of fourth place and that would normally mean a shot at snaring first-round homecourt advantage in the playoffs. But that’s less important now because the league will play in one location.

Everybody is playing in Orlando, even the Magic.

The Nets occupy the seventh playoff spot, half a game ahead of the eighth-place Magic.

The Washington Wizards, who are 5.5 games outside of the final playoff spot, are the only Eastern Conference non-playoff conference team invited to participate in the resumption. The Knicks, at 21-45, are out.

The Nets and Magic clinch the final two spots unless the ninth-place Wizards practically run the table.

Any play-in tournament with the No. 8 and No. 9 teams occurs only if the ninth seed finishes the regular season within four games of the eighth-place team.

In that case, the ninth-seeded team would have to beat the eighth seed twice in order to get in. The Wizards are 24-40 and unlikely to pull off that miracle in the East.

That is more conceivable in the West.

The Western Conference features the Lakers, Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz as the top four teams.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies hold the next four spots.

Dave Bontempo

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.