The NBA is back this week with the last days of the regular season before giving way immediately to the playoffs and finals to close the atypical 2019-2020 season, which has been interrupted by the COVID-19. How has this affected the sports betting market and online gambling users?
Like all other categories or sports in the world, the NBA has had to reinvent itself in its own way to end the current season that has been interrupted by the global pandemic. The advantage and disadvantages of being a domestic league at the end of the day are territorial limitations.
In the United States, the country with the highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, the decision was made that the ‘safest’ state would be Florida, and Adam Silver and his NBA leadership team decided to ‘build’ a ‘bubble’ where all the non-replaceable members of the championship would reside in order to finish the season and proclaim a champion.
The final decision was to install this structure in the Disney facilities in the city of Orlando.
This past week the second ‘preseason’ games began so that the teams could get ready before the last eight rounds of the regular season, which are necessary to define which 16 teams will have access to the playoffs. The teams that have no mathematical options to do so have not even traveled to Orlando, leaving just nine teams from the East for thirteen from the West.
A DIFFERENT REGULAR ‘SEASON
In the East, teams from Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston, Miami, Indiana, and Philadelphia are currently mathematically ranked. And they are in playoff position Brooklyn and Orlando, with only Washington outside the Top 8 among the Eastern teams now ‘residing’ in Disney.
True, the Wizards’ chances are slim, as they are five and a half wins away from Orlando and six from Brooklyn, so their ranking is a chimera. At the top of the table, 6.5 wins separate the Bucks from the Raptors, so, again, it is utopian to think that Giannis Antetokoumpo’s will not have the best record in the conference. And, in fact, also of the entire league with their 53-12 by the 49-14 Los Angeles Lakers of the West.
The Lakers are leading the West with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, five and a half wins ahead of their city and stadium teammates, the Clippers. Along with them, already qualified for the playoffs we have Denver, Utah, Oklahoma, and Houston. Luka Doncic’s Dallas is seventh and are playing with nine fingers in the standings. The last place in the Top 8 is occupied by Memphis, ahead of Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Phoenix. And just as in the East, it seems almost impossible that things will change.
Ja Morant’s spectacular debut season in Memphis is thus close to achieving something unthinkable months ago, and that is to leave out of the final phase the Trail Blazers of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, and Jusuf Nurkic. This week, Lillard didn’t play in the game against the Raptors because of inflation on the sole of his foot, but Nurkic left us nice sports and non-sports duel with Serge Ibaka that shows that the competitive claw of the pivot is what Portland perhaps lacked in the past post-season and it would be a shame not to see them in the playoffs. On top of that, if they were to qualify, they would play in the first round against the Lakers, thus complicating the qualification of the favorites.
AN UNDERDOG FAVORITE
The NBA is one of the most ‘open’ competitions in the world of sports, where it is very difficult to choose a favorite year after year and this is always reflected in sports betting. However, we currently have a very open sports scenario that bets do not reflect in this ‘post’ pandemic reality.
The Lakers are priced at 3.30 per euro bet that they will win the NBA title this season, for the Bucks’ 3.50 and the Clippers’ 4.33. And from there, the fourth ‘favorite’ team for bets already pays above 14.00.
To some extent, the odds make sense, because it seems there will be no match for the Bucks in the East – except for the current champions, the Raptors, who have lost Kawhi Leonard for this year – and so the odds reflect the Milwaukee players as virtually NBA finalists. In that scenario, where there will be an almost 50/50 final, the 3.50 quota is not so unfavorable. However, when we think of rivals such as Toronto, Boston, or Philadelphia, the ‘shocks’ for the Bucks do not seem improbable.
Similarly, if they finish first and second in the regular season, the two Los Angeles teams would not meet until the conference finals and therefore, one of them would be the Bucks’ rival in the finals.
make sense, because it looks like there will be no match for the Bucks in the East – except for the current champions, the Raptors, who have lost Kawhi Leonard for this year – and so the odds reflect the Milwaukee players as virtually NBA finalists. In that scenario, where there will be an almost 50/50 final, the 3.50 quota is not so unfavorable. However, when we think of rivals such as Toronto, Boston, or Philadelphia, the ‘shocks’ for the Bucks do not seem improbable.
Similarly, if they finish first and second in the regular season, the two Los Angeles teams would not meet until the conference finals and therefore, one of them would be the Bucks’ rival in the finals. Hence the quotas.
And only from there, given that sportively one cannot explain the favoritism of the quotas of any of the three teams, especially those of the very tight West. And the proof is that a team like Portland will probably not even make the playoffs.
No one will be surprised if Dallas, Denver, or, above all, Houston, eliminates some of the teams from California’s capital. In short, both are underdog favorites.
We are only in the first year of the new Clippers even though they have Paul George, Pat Beverly, or the current MVP of the finals, Kawhi Leonard. The theory of which team is better on paper does not exist in the final moments and there are doubts about whether this team will be able to stop a combo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzinguis, or Jamal Murraya and Nikola Jokic… not to mention MPVs Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
On the other hand, it is more logical that the Lakers are the favorites because, at that point of competitive tension, there is simply no better player at key moments and especially in seventh games, than LeBron James. And he won’t be alone but will have teammates who won’t be shaking hands at those times, like Rajon Rondo or Anthony Davis.