It’s mid-October, which means the minds and bankrolls of sports bettors are still firmly focused on football. But, the tip-off to what could be one of the more intriguing NBA seasons in recent memory is upon us. Roundball should once drive a substantial amount of action at sportsbooks. In fact, it already has, in the form of futures.
As has been the case with college football and the NFL, betting interest in the league should be at an all-time high as it enters its first regular season under the new legalized sports betting landscape. The relocation of several of the NBA’s biggest stars this offseason certainly grabbed the attention of both the casual fan and sports bettor, building plenty of momentum for the 2018-19 campaign.
One of the states where it was impossible to plunk down any cash any NBA team just 12 short months ago – but where you can now plunge away to your heart’s content – is, of course, New Jersey. The Garden State is served by multiple sportsbooks, and one of its most prominent is celebrating the advent of the 2018-19 season with several enticing promos.
Bombs can build your bankroll
The fast-paced Golden State Warriors have a well-earned reputation for disregarding pesky details like distance when uncorking shots from all over the court. The Oklahoma City Thunder have their fair share of scorers as well — even if Russell Westbrook misses Opening Night while recovering from recent knee surgery – while regional East Coast squads Boston and Philadelphia roll out multiple marksmen in their own right.
FanDuel Sportsbook gives you the chance to profit handsomely from the long-range acumen of one of the four clubs taking the floor for Tuesday’s Opening Night with the following promotion:
- NBA: Thunder-Warriors, 76ers-Celtics
- Get $5 in your account for every 3-pointer your team scores
- Promotional Period: 10/11, 12:00AM EST – 10/16, 9:39PM EST
- Wager: Moneyline Only, Minimum Bet $25
- Max two wagers per user, 1 per game
The only safe way to bet on the Knicks and Nets
Looking for a risk-free way to get a little extra rooting interest in the local New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets? The way each club’s fortunes shape up this coming season, it’s likely to take a little alcohol, potential payout — or a combination of both — to hold fans’ collective attention spans for all four quarters on many nights.
At least FanDuel has you covered in that regard for their respective season openers. Make an investment in either squad and get it back, guaranteed, if they fall short:
- NBA: Nets-Pistons, Hawks-Knicks
- Bet the Knicks or Nets to win, get your bet back if they don’t (up to $100)
- Promotional Period: 10/11, 12:00AM EST – 10/17 7:40PM EST
- Wager: Moneyline Only
- Max two wagers per user, 1 per game
Score a king’s ransom in The King’s West Coast debut
Luminaries like Damian Lillard and Lonzo Ball will be on the court for Thursday night’s Lakers-Trail Blazers season opener. However, with all due respect to their respective star power, it will pale in comparison to that of NBA royalty – namely, LeBron James, who’ll be making his Lakers regular-season debut.
FanDuel is celebrating The King’s City of Angels launch party by offering bettors a chance to literally profit from every point he scores, provided you think he’ll lead the Lakers to a season-opening victory:
- NBA: Lakers-Blazers
- $3 bonus for every point The King scores
- Promotional Period: 10/12, 12:00AM EST – 10/18 10:40pm EST
- Wager: Lakers Moneyline
- Minimum Bet: $50
Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook today and take advantage of these can’t-miss promotions if you’re betting on the NBA in New Jersey!
Each week, TheLines takes a look back at some of the worst sports betting “bad beats” from the weekend of college and pro football. These incredible moments caused a swing in money at sportsbooks, resulting in jubilation — and plenty of pain — for bettors everywhere.
Falcons 34, Buccaneers 29
Line: Buccaneers +3
Sometimes gamblers can do everything right but circumstances and luck decide the outcome. That was the case when the Buccaneers played the Falcons on Sunday. In a matchup between the NFL’s two worst defenses, it was all offense as anticipated, although the spread would be decided by a kicker.
The Falcons closed as three-point favorites at most Las Vegas and New Jersey sportsbooks and early on it looked like it would be a laugher for Atlanta. The Falcons jumped out to a 21-6 lead and led 24-13 at halftime.
However, with the Falcons’ defense, no lead is safe. The Buccaneers rallied in the second half, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 31-29 after a failed two-point conversion could have tied the game with 3:47 remaining.
The Falcons got the ball back and were content to just run out the clock. If successful, it would give Buccaneers backers a hard-fought cover. Atlanta faced a third-and-two with 1:53 remaining and Tampa Bay out of timeouts. A first down and the game is over. Falcons running back Tevin Coleman got stuffed for no gain on third down, setting up a dramatic win for some gamblers and a gut-wrenching loss for others.
Instead of punting, Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant emerged to give Falcons bettors a glimmer of hope and those on the Bucs +3 a panic attack. Bryant drilled a 57-yard field goal. He injured himself on the kick but Atlanta bettors were probably too busy celebrating to even notice. The kick gave the Falcons a 34-29 lead and likely cover.
Matt Bryant nails the 57 yarder. $$$ pic.twitter.com/FxfA2QQYdv
— Carlton (@SlopingGiraffe) October 14, 2018
Buccaneers bettors weren’t dead yet though. Jameis Winston drove the Bucs down the field and came within a couple of yards of scoring on a wild final play where Winston lateraled the ball to Adam Humphries, who lateraled to Mike Evans, who lateraled to DeSean Jackson inside the five. Tampa Bay came up just short though.
Jameis Winston and the Bucs almost pull off a crazy last second play to win. DeSean Jackson is kicking himself
— 🇨🇦Rory Calhoun🏀 (@DFSBBallGuy) October 14, 2018
The final two minutes went from a bad beat for Falcons bettors to a bad beat for Bucs bettors thanks to a third down stop and 57-yard field goal.
Florida 37, Vanderbilt 27
Line: Vanderbilt +9.5
This was a sandwich game for Florida after upsetting LSU last week and facing rival Georgia on Oct. 27. Those who took Vanderbilt thinking the Gators might come into the game flat were looking good after the Commodores stormed out to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.
Unfortunately for Vanderbilt backers, the Gators woke up. Florida scored 24 unanswered points to take a 27-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. After a Vanderbilt field goal, Florida’s Freddie Swain caught an 11-yard touchdown pass with 8:07 left in the game to give the Gators a 10-point lead. More importantly, Florida was covering the spread after falling behind by 18 points early.
The game would be a bad beat for Vandy bettors if it ended there but it was only just beginning. The last eight minutes is where the real gambling roller coaster started. Vanderbilt stalled on a 14-play drive, forcing the Commodores to settle for a 53-yard field goal attempt with 3:55 remaining.
Those three points were obviously huge because Vanderbilt went from outside the number to inside with a successful kick. The problem: Vanderbilt kicker Ryley Guay had already missed a 25-yard field goal earlier in the game and his long for the season was 42 yards. But Guay calmly stepped up and drilled the 53-yarder to give the Commodores a potential cover.
Vanderbilt kicker Ryley Guay just nailed a 53 yd FG. He missed a 25 yd FG earlier. There's a head scratcher
— Jason Hurst (@JHurstSports) October 13, 2018
Florida just needed to run out the clock and go home. The Gators faced a third-and-one from the Vanderbilt 25-yard line with just over a minute on the clock. Vanderbilt bettors were one yard away from victory. One yard for the Gators and the clock runs out. But Lamical Perine took the handoff and got met by a wall of Vanderbilt defenders, losing two yards. Florida opted to kick and Evan McPherson connected on a 43-yard field goal to give the Gators a 37-27 win and half-point cover.
— InAllKindsOfWeather.com (@AllKindsWeather) October 13, 2018
It’s bad enough to lose a game when you were up 21-3 and getting 10 points. It’s even worse when you’re one yard away from victory and don’t cash.
According to Sports Insights, William Hill took a beating with the Florida cover as 81 percent of bets and 76 percent of the money were on the Gators.
Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13
Wisconsin vs. Michigan. It just screams a low-scoring, defensive battle. That’s the way it was shaping up for much of the game to the delight of UNDER bettors. Right up until a wild fourth quarter where the two teams combined for 23 points.
Michigan led Wisconsin 13-7 at the half, so for those bettors expecting a low scoring game, everything was going to plan with two quarters to go. The Wolverines scored the only touchdown in the third and after a successful two-point conversion, Michigan took a 21-7 lead into the final quarter.
Here’s where the wheels came off for UNDER bettors. Michigan began to blow the game open after Lavert Hill returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown to give Michigan a commanding 31-7 lead with 9:55 remaining. There was some good news for UNDER bettors though. They could still give up a touchdown and Michigan put its backups in the game on offense.
Now for the bad news. Backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run with 5:16 left in the game to make it 38-7 Wolverines.
— Wolverine Corner (@WolverineCorner) October 14, 2018
With UNDER bettors still clinging to a win, Wisconsin put the nail in their coffin on the next possession. After getting shut down all night long, the Badgers marched down the field to score a “meaningless” touchdown and put the game OVER.
UNDER bettors were left to swallow a loss where Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook completed just seven passes and neither quarterback threw for more than 125 yards.
It’s an interesting time of year in the sports betting realm. Both pro and college football have a firm grasp on the betting public’s attention, and postseason baseball undoubtedly enjoys its fair share of action as well.
Yet somewhat under the radar, the NBA suddenly pops up in mid-October. For approximately the subsequent two weeks (depending on how long the World Series goes), it’s a sports betting fan’s (and sportsbook’s) delight — all three major sports are playing meaningful, wagerable games.
The pigskin will continue to draw plenty of attention all the way through Super Bowl LIII on the first Sunday in February. But this coming NBA season will hold no shortage of interest. Specifically, the movement of three prominent pieces on the league’s chess board – LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and DeMarcus Cousins – has led to some interesting futures props in New Jersey sportsbooks.
And not to be forgotten in all the offseason-moves-centered hype is a team that stood pat, but that returns a star who missed all but the opening minutes of last season – an already formidable Boston Celtics squad that stands to get even better with a healthy Gordon Hayward.
Even the NBA itself is combining the anticipation with its increasing embrace of the new legalized sports betting landscape – along with new partner MGM Resorts, it’s running an NBA Pick ‘Em: Team Win Totals contest that awards a cool $1 million to those who can specifically predict each team’s number of victories.
Ahead of roundball season, let’s examine how some of what’s transpired this offseason is reflected in current lines:
Los Angeles Lakers
- FanDuel Sportsbook: +950 to win Western Conference/ +1100 to win NBA Finals
- 888sport: +700 to win Western Conference/ +800 to win NBA Finals
- BetStars: +900 to win Western Conference/ +900 to win NBA Finals
Never underestimate the power of the King. LeBron’s second exit out of Cleveland drew relatively less fanfare than his first one back in 2010, but it’s had a seismic effect on the way the Lakers are viewed by the oddsmakers. Los Angeles’ triple-digit numbers for both their conference and NBA title chances are especially striking when compared to other playoff teams.
On all three Garden State sportsbooks cited above, the Lakers check in with markedly better odds to be crowned champs than 2017-18 playoff teams like the 76ers, Thunder, Jazz, Raptors, Spurs and Trail Blazers. Make no mistake – despite the fact the Lakers offered reason for optimism with their play at times last season, there’s no way they come close to sniffing these odds without LeBron in the fold. This was a 35-47 team last season that returns three-fifths of their starting five and that arguably downgraded by swapping out Brook Lopez for JaVale McGee at center.
James’ massive effect on a team has been proven countless times (by comparison, a now LeBron-less Cavaliers squad is a whopping +55000 to win it all), but whether it’s enough for the type of line movement the Lakers have seen makes for a healthy debate.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: +320 to win Eastern Conference/ +1800 to win NBA Finals
- 888sport: +375 to win Eastern Conference/ +1700 to win NBA Finals
- BetStars: +375 to win Eastern Conference/ +1600 to win NBA Finals
The Raptors went from regular-season juggernauts to LeBron patsies – again — by the time their 2017-18 campaign wrapped up. Yet another postseason collapse made their 59-23 regular-season record seem hollow. They then made what could potentially turn out to be a move that’s has a neutral effect at best and could even represent a downgrade at worst – swapping out DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard.
If he’s 100 percent right physically, Leonard is arguably an elite difference-maker, especially on defense. But whether he’ll hold up for an entire season is anyone’s guess, regardless of how much due diligence Toronto undoubtedly performed before trading for him. Meanwhile, the Raptors essentially return the same cast – sans DeRozan – that fell short. That includes a 32-year-old Kyle Lowry that saw a drop of more than six points per game last season.
Irrespective of those factors, Toronto checks in with considerably better Finals odds than fellow 2017-18 playoff teams such as the Thunder, Jazz, Heat, Pelicans and Trail Blazers, and with the same chances as a promising Sixers squad. Toronto’s current numbers are clearly based on the health of one player, and like those of the Lakers, are fodder for plenty of discussion.
Golden State Warriors
- FanDuel Sportsbook: -330 to win Western Conference/ -160 to win NBA Finals
- 888sport: -286 to win Western Conference/ -200 to win NBA Finals
- BetStars: -330 to win Western Conference/ -180 to win NBA Finals
Outside of LeBron, the Warriors likely made the most headlines this offseason with their acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins. Many cried foul at Golden State’s apparent quest to ensure no other team hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy for about the next decade. The validity of those complaints could probably be debated until next June’s Finals. However, it says plenty about the oddsmakers’ faith in the Warriors’ Big Four of Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green that they’re comfortably the odds-on favorites to repeat, even though Cousins’ exact return date from his Achilles injury remains firmly up in the air heading into the season.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: -110 to win Eastern Conference/ +600 to win NBA Finals
- 888sport: -106 to win Eastern Conference/ +525 to win NBA Finals
- BetStars: -115 to win Eastern Conference/ +600 to win NBA Finals
Which team has the most potential to serve as the NBA’s savior from those dastardly Warriors? It’s the boys in green from across the country, which admittedly might need a good dose of the luck of the Irish to topple Golden State. However, while they’re not quite on the Warriors’ level with respect to securing an NBA championship in the eyes of the sportsbooks, the Celts are perceived as the highly likely favorites to emerge as the potential dragon slayers out of the Eastern Conference.
The numbers are driven not just by Boston’s remarkable, deep playoff run last season with a short-handed squad, but by the reinforcements they get back this season. The returns of a presumably healthy Kyrie Irving and Hayward arguably make the Celtics the deepest unit in the Eastern Conference. Moreover, the books also appear to be projecting a true breakout season for phenom Jayson Tatum, whose learning curve was undoubtedly accelerated by a large margin in the 2017-18 campaign while filling in for Hayward.
Boston’s talent and potential coaching advantage over the Warriors is such that they could be one key Golden State injury away from making those current Finals odds a bargain.
Northeast teams hold plenty of regional interest
Of particular interest to Garden State bettors are the three teams within closest proximity. That includes the former home-state Nets, as well as the neighboring Knicks and 76ers. Of the three, only the latter has anything resembling bright prospects heading into the season. Nevertheless, here’s a look at where the trio of clubs stands in the eyes of the oddsmakers:
- FanDuel Sportsbook: +21000 to win Eastern Conference/+55000 to win NBA Finals/32.5 projected wins total
- 888sport: +10000 to win Eastern Conference/ +40000 to win NBA Finals/31.5 projected wins total
- BetStars: +15000 to win Eastern Conference/ +40000 to win NBA Finals/31.5 projected wins total
The Nets are projected to only bump up last season’s win total by four, although Brooklyn returns its impressive core of young players and has added reliable veteran Ed Davis to serve as an important part of the second-unit frontcourt rotation. While they have the misfortune of playing in the same division as the 76ers, Raptors and Celtics, the Nets could surprise a la last season’s Lakers and push for a win total in the upper 30s if the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and promising big man Jarrett Allen can stay healthy.
New York Knicks
- FanDuel Sportsbook: +21000 to win Eastern Conference/+50000 to win NBA Finals/29.5 projected wins total
- 888sport: +5000 to win Eastern Conference/+30000 to win NBA Finals/29.5 projected wins total
- BetStars: +10000 to win Eastern Conference/+30000 to win NBA Finals/29.5 projected wins total
Think the crosstown Nets with a slower pace and you have the Knicks, who also have some solid under-30 talent, especially if Kristaps Porzingis is able to return at some point. However, considering that’s far from certain, New York will have to rely on much surer propositions such as Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke and Enes Kanter, as well as ninth overall pick Kevin Knox. The Knicks also added what could turn out to be one of the better under-the-radar free agents of the offseason in Mario Hezonja, but the oddsmakers don’t see them having made a net improvement of even one full win. Porzingis’ potential season-long absence is certainly a factor in that assessment.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: +320 to win Eastern Conference/+1800 to win NBA Finals/53.5 projected wins total
- 888sport: +300 to win Eastern Conference/ +1400 to win NBA Finals/54.5 projected wins total
- BetStars: +375 to win Eastern Conference/ +1600 to win NBA Finals/53.5 projected wins total
The 76ers naturally carry the highest expectations of the three teams coming into the season. The books project a slight improvement in their win total as Philly returns their entire first unit from last season’s 52-win squad. A full season of health from Joel Embiid and Dario Saric could certainly push them closer to the 60-win mark, and Philadelphia should also benefit from the offseason acquisition of veteran Wilson Chandler to back up Robert Covington. Another x-factor will be the health of 2017 top overall pick Markelle Fultz, who was limited to 14 games during his rookie campaign due to a shoulder injury. The Celtics still represent a major roadblock to a division title for Philadelphia, but a playoff spot seems all but assured if key pieces avoid the injury bug.