Odds on Pacers winning title drop below 3-1

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lanceBack in the preseason, I told you my pick to win the NBA championship was the Indiana Pacers, who at the time were listed anywhere from 12-1 to 15-1. I even went on the BBC and told the host to run down to Ladbroke’s and make that wager. (He didn’t — and I have not stopped badgering him about it since.)

So what are the latest odds to win the NBA championship? And who is offering the best odds to win the 2014 NBA championship?

The odds on Indiana have dropped to +275, or a little less than 3-1. They are only slightly higher than the odds on the Miami Heat, which are currently +245.

Indiana has held onto first place in the Eastern Conference throughout this season, posting an NBA-best 25-2 record at home and avoiding, for the most part, the types of inexcusable losses that could end up costing them homecourt advantage if they end up meeting the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, as everyone expects. They still must play the Heat two more times, on March 26 and April 11. Those two matchups will likely determine who finishes first in the East — and will have an impact on the championship odds once the regular season is over.

I expect the teams to split the games, and I still expect the Pacers to finish atop the East.

And yes, I am sticking with my prediction that Indiana will win the title, mostly because they have the No. 1 rated defense in the NBA, and also because the Heat are ranked 30th — dead last — in the NBA in rebounding. When you are facing the prospect of going against a team with a front line of Roy Hibbert and David West, with Luis Scola and Andrew Bynum coming off the bench, the ability to rebound the ball will be the paramount factor.

(RELATED: PODCAST: WHY IT WAS A GREAT MOVE BY INDIANA TO SIGN ANDREW BYNUM)

moneyA secondary factor will be the play of the Pacers’ backcourt, and Lance Stephenson not only leads the league in triple-doubles, he is a legitimate threat to win the league’s Most Improved Player award.

And here’s another thing: Whoever comes out of the East will not have had a tough of a time reaching the NBA Finals as the team that comes out of the West, where it will be a dogfight each and every round because of the quality of the competition. That is a large part of the reason why the Heat and Pacers have the lowest odds of any of the 30 teams.

Will my Pacers pick be correct? Only time will tell. But I am hoping that those who saw me on the BBC during the preseason and took my advice will be rewarded at the cashier’s window.

 

Gambling on the Western Conference: A Free-For-All

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The Western Conference is absolutely nothing like the Eastern Conference when it comes to championship odds.

We have what I call a two-horse race in the East versus what I am going to call the six-plus team race in the West.

In the 15 previous seasons, only four teams (the Lakers, seven times; the Spurs, five times, the Mavericks, two times; the Thunder, once)  have won the Western Conference, which is a similar concept to what the Eastern Conference has gone through recently, as I outlined in this column laying out the loooong odds on anyone not from Miami or Indiana winning the East.

Gambling on the Eastern Conference: Long odds on everyone not named Pacers or Heat

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jameswade

Brain-twister for you today, folks.

Go back to the start of the 2005-06 regular season, and try to name a superstar player who has represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Your answer cannot include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo or Ray Allen.

It’s OK. Keep thinking … 

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NBA Gambling: Notes from the Quarter Pole – Bet The Lakers!

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The gambling life ain’t easy, folks — which is where today’s tale begins. But by the time you get to the end of today’s column, hopefully you’ll be amused by my personal adventures and enlightened by my leaguewide analysis.

We are at the quarter-pole of the NBA season, and trends have emerged.

First, to truly appreciate what it means to gamble on the NBA on a daily basis, you had to experience what it was like to bet on the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, December 3rd. Before we begin, it is also important to note, I personally had a few dollars on the Magic and Raptors in these two contests, so you can follow the pain and agony along with me. Let me paint you a picture of what occurred in both of those games:

Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers

At the Las Vegas Hilton (LVH), the line opened at -3.5 in favor of the 76ers, quickly dropped to -3, and ended up closing at -4 just before tip-off. In terms of the over/under, the line opened at 208 and ended up closing at around 206.

oladipoAt the end of the 1st half, the Sixers led the Magic 58-57 and was on pace to go over the total early on.

The game went into the 4th quarter with the Sixers up 85-80 and with a little over six minutes left in regulation, Philadelphia had their largest lead of the quarter at 91-83.

The game came to a head with a minute left in regulation, the Sixers up 4 and the Magic coming out of a timeout. Aaron Afflalo hit a 3-pointer to reduce the Sixers’ lead to one, 102-101 and 15 seconds later, Thaddeus Young came right down the floor and drained six-foot jump shot of his own to extend the lead to three.

Then, the bizarro began …

Glen Davis, who has six career 3-pointers in 40 attempts over six-plus seasons, mailed a 3 to tie it, and Evan Turner missed a layup at the end of regulation to force overtime. The score of the game previous to Davis’ 3 was 104-101 (205 total points), which meant his “miraculous” three not only put the game into overtime, but took the point total from under to over.

The Sixers led by five with a minute and a half to go in overtime and ended up fouling Aaron Afflalo attempting a 3-pointer, down three, with 12 seconds left Afflalo made all three free throws and the game went to double-overtime. The Sixers again had a five-point lead, but this time with 20 seconds left in double-overtime, Andrew Nicholson hit a two-point field goal to bring the lead to three before the Magic fouled James Anderson, who missed both free throws for the Sixers.

Afflalo then missed a 3-point field goal attempt, the Sixers rebounded the ball and were fouled, Anderson then hit one of two free throws and “magic” happened for Orlando bettors. After a 20-second timeout with around one second left on the clock, Afflalo hit a 25-foot 3-pointer to make the final score 126-125 Sixers, instead of 126-122, which shifted the cover from Philadelphia to Orlando in under a second.

Welcome to the ups and downs of NBA gambling.

Later Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors traveled to Golden State to face the Warriors.

The line at LVH opened at -7.5 in favor of Golden State and closed at -8 before tip-off.

The game started out pretty normal, with about four minutes left in the first quarter, the Raptors were beating the Warriors 16-14 and by the time the whistle had blown focurryur minutes later, Toronto led Golden State 36-19 and the Warriors were 25 points away from covering through just 12 minutes of play.

By the time halftime hit, Toronto was up on Golden State by a score of 65-48 (again, 25 points away from covering for the Warriors). The Raptors kept up the pace and their superior play and took an 88-70 lead into the 4th.

The lead dwindled from 17 to 10 in less than four minutes, from 10 to tied in another four minutes, and with 47 seconds left, Harrison Barnes hit a 3-pointer to put Golden State up 109-103. After two misses from DeMar DeRozan, a miss from Steve Novak and three free throws from Stephen Curry, the Warriors won the game 112-103…and covered the game by one point after a 42-15 4th quarter.

After all of that, what is the point?

Gamblers had to roll through the ups and downs of those games and not drop dead from the crazy swings. It is not a life for the feeble.

Anyway, it’s time to take a look at which teams have been the best bets …  and which teams haven’t.

Against The Spread Standings


Team Record
Pacers 14-5
Blazers 14-5
Suns 13-5-1
Lakers 11-6-1
Bobcats 11-7-1
Hawks 12-8
Rockets 11-8-1
Nuggets 10-8
Wizards 10-8
Celtics 11-9
Clippers 11-9
Warriors 9-8-2
Pistons 10-9
Timberwolves 10-9
Spurs 9-9
Mavericks 10-10
Magic 9-9
Heat 9-10
Jazz 9-10-1
Sixers 9-10
Thunder 8-9
Pelicans 7-10-1
Raptors 7-10
Bulls 7-10
Grizzlies 6-11-1
Kings 5-10-1
Nets 6-13
Knicks 5-12
Cavaliers 5-13
Bucks 5-13

If you are familiar with the regular NBA standings, the top of the ATS (Against The Spread) standings should come as no shock to you with the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers leading the way with 14 ATS wins so far this season.

The two teams collided earlier this week in Portland for one of the best games of the year. Portland come out on top and showed that they should be taken very seriously across the league this season. (Check out where LeMarcus Aldridge is ranked in Chris Sheridan’s latest MVP rankings.)

Some of the more surprising teams on this list have to be the top Eastern Conference teams; here are the top 5 in the ATS East: Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics. With the Knicks, Nets and Bulls near the bottom of the list, the entire conference has been turned upside down just a quarter into the season. My particular surprise team on this list has to be the Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. is 11-6-1 ATS for 4th place in the NBA, and they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games.

Looking Forward: Against The Spread

I have said it since the beginning of the season and I will reiterate it now. I personally believe the Orlando Magic will have a bit of a successful season if you are using their preseason win total (24.5) line as the barometer. The Magic are currently 9-9 ATS through 18 games and 6-12 overall. As long as the books do not look at Orlando as a threa, I believe they will do a good job at covering numbers as underdogs against some of the better teams in the league.

Over the summer, I pinpointed four teams (three of which had 100/1 odds or greater) I personally liked to place future wagers on: Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and my favorite, the Indiana Pacers. Based on what we have seen so far, I am not upset with any of those picks for a few different reasons. The Pacers own the best record in the NBA both straight up and ATS, and the Pelicans, Timberwolves and Pistons all have nine wins and are basically playing .500 basketball through a 1/4 of the season.

Update on Individual Awards

I am referencing the column I wrote on Sheridan Hoops about a week before the season started on the odds on such awards as the MVP, Rookie of the Year, Scoring leader as well as a few proposition bets. When accessing the rookie class so far, lets start with Chris Bernucca‘s Week 5 Rookie Rankings, which puts Michael Carter-Williams 1st (8/1), Victor Oladipo 2nd (4/1), Trey Burke 3rd (5/1), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 4th (20/1) and Ben McLemore 5th (7/1). I personally believe it will be a two-horse race between Oladipo and Carter-Williams, but given the lack of scoring around Burke and the fact he didn’t have as much of a head start as the other two players may not make a difference if he stays healthy.

georgelebronNext, we will dive into the current MVP race in the NBA. We will start by referencing Chris Sheridan‘s column earlier this week on the MVP award and its current participants a 1/4 of the way through the season. Here are Sheridan’s top five current candidates for the award: Paul George (35/1), LaMarcus Aldridge (125/1), Kevin Durant (3.5/1), LeBron James (1.4/1) and Tony Parker (30/1). The prices on the first two players on this list are very, very intriguing if you were able to grab tickets on them before the season started, but it is still very hard for me to believe that anyone else but LeBron James will ultimately win this award.

In my opinion, Paul George may have an actual shot to win this award if the Pacers can keep up their win pace to a degree for the remainder of the season. That would mean having to win 60+ games and keeping the remainder of the Eastern Conference a bunch of games behind them to make it look good compared to the absurd numbers James will put up by seasons end.

Nothing is too shocking when you are looking at the early numbers for scoring, rebounding and assist leaders in the clubhouse. Here are the top 5 players in each category, their preseason odds to lead the league in those statistical categories, and then I will throw in a dark-horse or two to watch as the season moves along.

Scoring

Kevin Durant  was the favorite at 6/5, and he is atop the league at 28.5 ppg. LeBron James is third at 25.7, and if he avoids any more of the energy voids like the one that plagued him in last night’s 20-point loss to Chicago, he can make a run for this distinction. (Check out this Chris Bernucca column on how James is doing things that even Michael Jordan didn’t do.) Carmelo Anthony went off at 3.15/1, and he is currently second at 25.9.

Rebounding

Only one rebound separates the top four players, led by the 13.6 of Kevin Love (1.5/1) followed by DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard, who was the preseason favorite at even money. Jordan and Drummond were 6-1 “field” bets.

Assists

paulwall

Chris Paul went off at 1.5 to 1 in the preseason, and John Wall, who is trailing him 11.8 to 9.2, should hang onto the league lead for the remainder of the season barring an injury. If that should happen, those who wagered on Wall at 9-1 or Ricky Rubio at 15/2 will have some nice action.

The Futures Market


Team Las Veags Offshore
Heat 3/2 +205
Thunder 9/2 +735
Pacers 5/1 +525
Spurs 15/2 +825
Rockets 10/1 15/1
Warriors 12/1 19/1
Clippers 12/1 14/1
Blazers 20/1 33/1
Timberwolves 40/1 60/1
Bulls 40/1 35/1
Grizzlies 50/1 45/1
Mavericks 50/1 80/1
Nets 60/1 30/1
Raptors 60/1 275/1
Nuggets 75/1 70/1
Pelicans 100/1 185/1
Pistons 100/1 150/1
Knicks 100/1 66/1
Celtics 100/1 350/1
Lakers 100/1 85/1
Wizards 100/1 150/1
Hawks 100/1 100/1
Cavaliers 200/1 150/1
Sixers 500/1 250/1
Kings 500/1 500/1
Suns 500/1 225/1
Bobcats 500/1 500/1
Magic 1000/1 750/1
Bucks 2000/1 500/1
Jazz 9999/1 1000/1

When comparing the current futures market rankings to the market we analyzed over the summer and right before the season started, a few different notes and observations come to mind.

The play of the two New York teams really sent a shock wave through the east coast. The Knicks and Nets were a combined 39/1 to win the NBA Championship if you added up both teams average odds before the season started. Now, they are a combined 128/1 and both in the melochandlerbottom half of the Eastern Conference, currently outside of the playoffs looking in. Injuries have been a big factor for both teams early in the season with Paul Pierce, Tyson Chandler and Deron Williams missing extended periods of time through the first quarter of the season.

The Blazers and Timberwolves look to have made the biggest jump to the list of contenders based on their future odds before the season started. Portland was between 100/1 and 200/1 depending on if you shopped in Las Vegas or offshore, and Minnesota was between 100/1 and 175/1, which makes both a pretty good investment at the current moment if you own their preseason tickets.

If I were to wager at the current moment, it would be very hard for me to resist taking the New York Knicks at 100/1 at the LVH knowing they are getting Tyson Chandler back, and I just do not believe it will get much worse for them.

They will make the playoffs and having a team like the Knicks, with what the remainder of the Eastern Conference looks like, I think a wager on 100/1 is hard to avoid.

I am not too sure what to do with this news, but either way, the Raptors are 60/1 in Las Vegas, but 275/1 offshore.

With the Atlantic Division looking so poor early on and the Celtics, 76ers and Raptors at the top of the division by a few games, the odds of the teams near the top just need to come down a bit. I do not think the Raptors are a threat to do anything of note, but the difference is noteworthy.

The current issue with betting futures on teams like the Hawks, Wizards and Pistons purely based on the standings is the fact that teams like the Magic, Raptors and Cavaliers are only two to three games back with only around 20 games having been played already.

Don’t judge a team based on the standings, but what you have seen from them on the floor and what you think the potential of that team is going forward.

Evan Abrams writes about basketball gambling for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter @Betropolitan.

MORE FROM EVAN ABRAMS:

NBA ODDS ON PLAYERS BEING TRADED
PROP BET LINES ON SCORING LEADER, REBOUNDING, MVP, MORE
NBA FUTURES ODDS: LAS VEGAS VS. OFFSHORE
TEAM BY TEAM OVER/UNDER ODDS FOR WIN TOTALS

Abrams: Which NBA Players Will Be Traded? Odds Say …

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moneyintrashThe offshore sports book Bovada recently published odds on certain players to be traded at any moment this season, which has created a bit of a buzz in the NBA sports betting industry because of its intrigue.

Some offshore sports books have offered these type of proposition bets in previous years, but with the early intrigue and excitement of this upcoming season I believe the exploration of these particular players and their teams’ current situation is definitely of note.

As many of you know, sports books in Las Vegas are not allowed to offer these types of bets because they are not officially scored in the nightly boxscore, which is just one of the reasons why the offshore sports books offer such large intrigue to many bettors across the nation and the world.

Here is the list of players on which odds were offered before the season began Tuesday night:

GayPlayer: Rudy Gay

Position: SF

Team: Toronto Raptors

Odds: Yes (6/1) & No (1/10)

Gay has been a member of the Toronto Raptors for a little over 270 days since his trade from the Memphis Grizzlies, and Toronto has already had discussions about what it could potentially get for Gay in a deal this season. Gay’s odds are very interesting, but you would assume they are a little bit higher than most on this list because of two reasons. One would be Raptors new general manager Masai Ujiri, who is a deep thinker when it comes to rebuilding a team and will look up and down for a deal that may get his team closer to the top sooner rather than later – which does not necessarily mean a deal for Gay. Two would be the fact Gay is currently taking up $17.8 million on Toronto’s cap, and you would have to find a team on their way toward the top to take on that contract. I would say Dallas, Chicago or Cleveland could be destinations for Gay, but keeping money off the books that are not expiring contracts may be more valuable for these teams than acquiring a scoring wing.

lowryPlayer: Kyle Lowry

Position: PG

Team: Toronto Raptors

Odds: Yes (2/1) & No (1/3)

Different player, same team. The fact that another Raptor is on this list is just another reason why “NBA-heads” are pretty sure Ujiri is going to shake things up pretty soon in Toronto. If the Raptors do not start off on a good note, things may change pretty quickly. Lowry is a completely different animal than Gay for a multitude of reasons – one being Lowry’s price tag is about $11 million less than Gay’s and may be easier to trade across the league if injuries thin a team at point guard. Lowry may be intriguing to a few teams considering his contract is an expiring one, and a contender may be interested in renting his services to make a run. Here is a list of possible destinations, IMHO: Warriors, Heat (not really talented point guard, but a need), Pelicans, Spurs (probably a long shot) and Wizards.

boozerPlayer: Carlos Boozer

Position: PF

Team: Chicago Bulls

Odds: Yes (1.5/1) & No (1/2)

It seems like Boozer has been discussed in trade rumors for the past two to three seasons, even though he had only been signed as a free agent by Chicago in 2010. Boozer has two years left on his contract that pays him approximately $15.3 million per year, which is a tough contract to trade away unless you are adding assets or an incentive for another team. With $14.25 million left on Luol Deng’s expiring contract, I fully expect Deng to be a bigger asset for teams than Boozer will until next season, when his expiring deal will be an asset for contending teams a few months into the season. People have discussed such deals as Boozer for LaMarcus Aldridge or the possibility of a blockbuster trade of Boozer, Jimmy Butler and assets for Kevin Love. But if you ask me, it will be tough for the Bulls to deal Boozer this season.

(RELATED: AMNESTY PROVISION: WHO STILL HAS IT; WHO DOESN’T? A TEAM-BY-TEAM LOOK)

grangerPlayer: Danny Granger

Position: SF

Team: Indiana Pacers

Odds: Yes (1/2) & No (1.5/1)

Granger and the trade market go hand-in-hand. He played only five games in 2012-2013 and is expected to miss the first three to four weeks of this season. Trading Granger and getting some sort of equal value from another team would be tough for the Pacers. Indiana made the Eastern Conference finals last season basically without Granger doing anything, so they are definitely not going to rush him back, especially after adding depth in Luis Scola and Chris Copeland this offseason. Granger currently has one year at $14 million left on his expiring contract, which makes him a potential deal chip if he can ever string together 10-15 games of action to show other teams there is the possibility of playing time.

asikPlayer: Omer Asik

Position: C

Team: Houston Rockets

Odds: Yes (1/3) & No (2/1)

Many people believed the signing of Dwight Howard over the summer for the Houston Rockets meant the inevitable exit for Asik, who even thought so himself at first. When the signing went down, Asik went public, demanding a trade out of Houston because he did not want to play behind Howard on the roster. Two months later, Asik is still in Houston, the Rockets have two really good centers on their roster – and are playing them alongside each other. Asik has two years and $8.3 million per year on his contract, but the positive is the fact many teams across the league have a need for a productive center and a deal is a possibility if GM Daryl Morey and the Rockets ever wanted to pull the trigger. The 1/3 odds on Asik to be traded is more about the public perception than it is Houston’s point of view. From an outsider’s perspective, people are a bit shocked Houston has not yet pulled the trigger on a deal to send Asik somewhere for players and draft picks to strengthen other parts of their roster. But only time will tell what Houston wants to do.

Evan Abrams covers basketball gambling for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE FROM EVAN ABRAMS:

PROP BET LINES ON SCORING LEADER, REBOUNDING, MVP, MORE
NBA FUTURES ODDS: LAS VEGAS VS. OFFSHORE
TEAM BY TEAM OVER/UNDER ODDS FOR WIN TOTALS