The first half of the NBA season is in the books. Well, between 57 and 59 games are completed, leaving between 25 and 23 games remaining on respective schedules.
A brief moment of silence for the league’s ability to understand how math works.
All-Star Weekend has arrived, a lackadaisical convention in Charlotte signifying the homestretch toward the playoffs.
Yet something interesting has happened that forces us to reflect on what happened during the “first half” of the season. It’s not the fact that the Golden State Warriors, ruiners of NBA sports betting, don’t own the league’s best record or even the second-best record. (Respect, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.)
The lightning rod of hate, the titan of tampering, has garnered mass attention from bettors, particularly in New Jersey.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook data in NJ, LeBron James received the most betting action among individual players so far this season. Despite the King missing 18 games just ahead of All-Star Weekend, James still drew more attention for individual performances such as over/under totals on points in a game, among other player-specific prop markets.
That’s ahead of Houston’s James Harden, who’s eclipsed 30 points in 31 straight games that’s tied for the second-longest streak in NBA history. It’s ahead of Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as well as Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s next generation of stars.
But that is only the beginning of what we’ve learned from NBA betting thus far.
It’s the Warriors’ title to lose
The season began as it has each of the past few years: Golden State will win the NBA championship.
This year was, and still is, even more to the extreme. From the season’s get-go, pundits crowned the Warriors and looked ahead to the 2019-20 season. Golden State, after all, entered the season with a -200 line to win its third straight title. No other team over the past 30 years carried such heavy favorite odds.
Naturally, at both DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook, the Warriors have been the most wagered-on team in the league this season, ahead of the 76ers and Lakers.
For this exercise, though, who the Warriors play — and could potentially lose to in the playoffs — becomes more entertaining.
Per DraftKings, the most popular Warriors opponent wagered on has been the Boston Celtics, followed by the Lakers and 76ers. Additionally, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles have been the most bet-on teams to claim the NBA title outside of Golden State, just ahead of Toronto and Milwaukee.
In-play betting is king for NJ sportsbooks
Just before the NBA season tipped off in October, Kambi Group, which powers DraftKings, introduced in-play betting for the 2018-19 season. The game had become “extremely popular over the last few years,” according to Kambi Head of Live Basketball Stefanos Moysidis. It had become faster and smarter with “teams relying on analytics more than ever before.”
Kambi recognized the demand of in-play wagering. And answered. As have other NJ online sports betting products.
FanDuel, for example, has seen in-game betting become a lynchpin for NBA action. According to the sportsbook, 45 percent of sports betting handle for NBA games have come via in-play betting.
Interestingly, no other market has emerged as a go-to for bettors. Moneyline wagering and “other bet types” represent 30 percent of bets, while point spread and over/under totals come in at 27 and 13 percent, respectively.
Risers and fallers for NBA futures
No other sport has a trade deadline quite like the NBA. The first month and a half of the new calendar year features a spinoff of sorts to the NBA season. Yes, the Warriors are great, and who can dethrone them? Harden is balling, as is Russell Westbrook, averaging a triple-double for the third straight season, has logged an NBA-record 11 straight triple-doubles.
But the trade deadline takes center stage until early February. While the Pelicans did not deal Anthony Davis, as many anticipated, futures odds did shift for several teams after the deadline passed.
According to DraftKings, the Philadelphia 76ers, after shedding Markelle Fultz and acquiring Tobias Harris, among other moves, jumped from 16/1 to 14/1 odds to win the title. The Bucks, with the addition of Nikola Mirotic, went from 14/1 to 11/1 post-deadline. And the Raptors, who brought in Marc Gasol, inched up from 9.5/1 to 9/1 odds.
While Golden State remains the odds-on favorite to win the NBA championship (-225 at DraftKings, -210 at FanDuel), the gap has closed a tad. The Raptors and Bucks have risen to the second- and third-favorites, respectively. Even Philly has climbed, to a fourth-place tie with Boston (DraftKings) and a third-place tie with Milwaukee (FanDuel).
Since the start of the season, the Bucks (70/1 to 11/1) have made the biggest jump in NBA title odds at FanDuel, followed by Toronto (18/1 to 9/1). Even the Denver Nuggets, with the second-best record in the Western Conference and fourth-best leaguewide, have leapt from 100/1 to 30/1.
The flip side of that conversation is just as fun to soak in.
After opening at 7/1 to win the title, the Rockets have slipped to 14/1 at FanDuel. The Lakers went from 9/1 to 22/1, and the Celtics slid from 6.25/1 to 12/1. Going back to the Davis drama, the Pelicans have plummeted from 35/1 season-opening odds to win the championship to 150/1.
The NBA: It’s fantastic.
The meaningless 3-pointer that seals a backdoor cover as a game expires makes for a bad-yet-entertaining beat.
But the meaningless 3-pointer made to cover the spread — a shot that should not have counted to begin with — is just brutal.
Such an occurrence happened not once, but TWICE this week: A player getting up an attempt that would not influence the outcome of the game, the final horn blaring throughout the arena well before the ball leaves that player’s hands, allowing his team to still lose but by a slimmer margin.
Neither shot was reviewed… because the team leading still won. Understand, though, that the NCAA has long opposed legalized sports betting, citing the industry’s potential impact on the “integrity” of college basketball games. Seems like it has its own integrity issues.
And the NCAA is at least (emphasis on “least”) addressing said issue:
During the NCAA tournament, officials "will review all shots made at the buzzer, as necessary, in the interest of accuracy of score and team and player statistics and even if the outcome of the game isn’t riding on the officials’ call."
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) February 7, 2019
Post-buzzer shots in question
On Monday, No. 17 Iowa State avoided an upset to visiting Oklahoma, holding on for a 75-74 win.
The Cyclones, though, came in as 3-point favorites at many sportsbooks. And it appeared as if Iowa State would leave the arena as four-point winners. Cyclone covers for the win, right?
— BettorIQ (@BettorIQ) February 5, 2019
Yeah, well, that running 3-pointer arguably should not have counted, as video evidence indicated that the shot did not get off before the buzzer.
Then there was Wednesday’s matchup of Big East teams Creighton and Villanova.
Villanova -9 bettors just got HOSED.
— B/R Betting (@br_betting) February 7, 2019
With less than 3 seconds to play, Creighton’s Kaleb Joseph crossed midcourt and made his way into the lane. He pulls up for a floater and buries the shot. But even the play-by-play was skeptical:
“Joseph does not get the shot off. That does not count. Does it count? (Referee) Roger Ayers says it’s good.” Then, after a moment of stunned silence. “That’s an interesting call there at the buzzer.”
Villanova entered as a 9-point favorite at many sportsbooks, and the Wildcats led by that margin when Joseph went up for the shot. His “made” attempt gave Creighton the cover with a 66-59 loss.
NCAA officials will review ALL shots
As ESPN’s David Purdum noted, the NCAA will ask referees to “review all shots made at the buzzer.” That includes made field goals that become “One Shining Moment” fodder and, theoretically, those that trim a 27-point loss into a 24-point loss.
This request comes “in the interest of accuracy of score and team and player statistics and even if the outcome of the game isn’t riding on the officials’ call.”
Said shots may result in a buzzer-beating win. Or they might affect the outcome for point spread or over/under total. Perhaps neither. Either way, the NCAA said, officials need to review every single time.
Here is a reading of the NCAA instant replay rule:
“Officials shall use such available equipment in the following situations: a. When there is a reading of zeroes (or should have been zeroes on the clock) on the game clock at the end of any period, after making a call on the playing court, and when necessary to determine the outcome of the game in the following situations: 1. Determine whether a try for field goal entering the basket was released before the reading of zeroes on the game clock. When it is determined that the try for goal was successful, the official is permitted to put the exact time back on the game clock as to when the ball passed through the net.”
So, in theory, these frequent replays should always occur. Although one could argue that determining “the outcome of the game” is up for interpretation.
Funny, though, how an organization so adamantly against legalized sports betting has come around to the ways of the force.
It took just eight months for the repeal of PASPA to affect a league’s behavior. https://t.co/kT1bOXQVdh
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) February 7, 2019
NCAA urging should already be happening
Funny enough, the NCAA has at least (emphasis on “least”) embraced the advent of regulated sports betting.
Last summer, the association announced it would explore the ins and outs of the industry while “examining the long-term impact” of sports betting. To do so, the NCAA pieced together an “internal team of subject matter experts” that would explore “how best to protect game integrity, monitor betting activity, manage sports data and expand educational efforts.”
There’s that “integrity” again.
The NCAA specifically said that referees will review ALL shots occurring around the final horn during the NCAA tournament. That’s nice, especially considering how much sports betting action will take place during March Madness.
But even to REACH the Big Dance, teams across the country will have their seasonlong resumes under the microscope of the tournament selection committee. Bubble teams, especially, will have their performances against opponents examined. Who did they play? How did they do? By how much did they win or lose?
Every point matters during the regular season. ESPECIALLY for bubble teams. Maybe the NCAA will discover its own rule and put it to proper use next year.
It takes time and work to turn a small wager into a hefty payday. Though some people (THIS GUY!) have needed only 30 minutes to spin $10 into $650 on a video poker machine.
One recent FanDuel Sportsbook bettor heard that tale and said, “Hold my beer.”
Not a bad Wednesday.
Not intimidated by long odds
Playing through the FanDuel online sportsbook, the lucky bettor faced what, for most everyone else, would be insurmountable odds.
Statistically, this user would have more luck finding a pearl in an oyster than hitting the parlay. Even winning an Oscar carries better odds. (Bet on it.)
Per FanDuel Sportsbook, the true odds of hitting the 15-leg parlay — which included moneyline, point spread and predicting first-half winners in the NBA and NCAA men’s basketball games — stood at roughly 16,500-1.
NBA legs of the parlay
Six legs of the miraculous parlay involved NBA action. Here are the bettor’s picks:
|Wizards at Bucks||First-half winner||-390||Bucks|
|Spurs at Warriors||First-half winner||-550||Warriors|
|Suns at Jazz||First-half winner||-650||Jazz|
|Pelicans at Bulls||Moneyline||+102||Pelicans|
|Rockets at Kings||Point spread||-110||Rockets -3|
|Hornets at Mavericks||Point spread||-115||Mavericks -5.5|
Fortunately, only one game really hung in the balance.
After all, the Milwaukee Bucks led the Washington Wizards 50-35 after the first quarter en route to an 85-65 halftime lead. (The Bucks eventually polished off their highest-scoring game of the season, a 148-129 victory.) Similarly, the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 66-52 lead at the break, and the Utah Jazz went into the half up 56-46.
Even the New Orleans Pelicans’ game, a 125-120 win, was not that close, as the Chicago Bulls poured in some garbage points to narrow the gap. And of course the Houston Rockets laid waste to the Sacramento Kings, outscoring Sacramento 44-17 in the second quarter en route to a 127-101 victory.
The only concern came with the Dallas Mavericks, whose win was never in doubt, really, during the game’s waning moments. Dwight Powell made two free throws with 9.2 seconds left to push Dallas in front by six points. But the Charlotte Hornets had several opportunities to spoil the parlay, though two missed shots and a turnover secured the Mavericks cover.
NCAA legs of the parlay
Like the NBA picks, most of the bettor’s NCAA selections were never in doubt, with six of nine chosen teams winning by double digits.
|Maryland at Nebraska||Moneyline||+125||Maryland|
|Georgetown at Providence||Moneyline||+180||Georgetown|
|LSU at Mississippi St.||Moneyline||+135||LSU|
|UConn at Temple||Point spread||-110||Temple -3.5|
|Clemson at Georgia Tech||Point spread||-110||Clemson -3.5|
|Notre Dame at Miami (FL)||Point spread||-110||Miami (FL) -3.5|
|Rhode Island at Davidson||Point spread||-110||Davidson -4|
|Wisconsin at Minnesota||Point spread||-110||Wisconsin -2|
|Baylor at Texas||Point spread||-110||Texas -3|
Of the moneyline picks, Maryland handled Nebraska 60-45, and Georgetown dispatched Providence 76-67, both on the road.
Overtime was needed for LSU, which missed two shots within the final 5 seconds of regulation to send the game to an extra period. There, the Tigers got a 3-pointer from Naz Reid with 11 seconds remaining to seal their 92-88 win over Mississippi State.
Five of six point spread picks went smoothly for the FanDuel bettor. The second-closest game of the picks was Texas beating Baylor 84-72.
Some sweat certainly poured during Wisconsin-Minnesota, during which the Badgers narrowly covered their 2-point spread. Wisconsin, which never trailed and was only tied twice, led 49-46 with 2:11 to play but pulled away enough to pay out with a 56-51 victory.
As a result, a $20 wager became a cool $178,000.
One bettor hit this INSANE 15-leg hoops parlay last night😲💰
✅ Bucks 1H
✅ Warriors 1H
✅ Jazz 1H
✅ Pelicans ML
✅ Rockets -3
✅ Mavs -5.5
✅ Maryland ML
✅ Georgetown ML
✅ LSU ML
✅ Temple -3.5
✅ Clemson -3.5
✅ Miami (FL) -3.5
✅ Davidson -4
✅ Wisconsin -2
✅ Texas -3 pic.twitter.com/soNpxZXxrQ
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) February 7, 2019
Super Bowl 53 looms ahead in Atlanta with the New England Patriots taking on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Feb. 3.
If it’s not clear, though, this article is not about looking forward to the Big Game. This is about adjusting the rearview mirror and reflecting on the NFL season as a whole, during the first year of legalized sports betting outside of Nevada.
And it seems only appropriate to turn to one of the rising juggernauts in the wagering landscape, DraftKings Sportsbook, whose New Jersey online product has become the envy of competitors, particularly in the NJ sports betting industry.
Most popular games of the season (so far)
No doubt, the Super Bowl will attract the most wagers of the year, as it so often has in years past. History has a way of repeating itself, after all.
Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayUSA.com, estimated that New Jersey could accept $100 million in legal bets while the nationwide total could near $325 million.
That obviously has yet to be seen. However, to date, the top 10 most bet-on NFL games at DraftKings Sportsbook did occur during the postseason.
|Jan. 13||Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans||NFC Divisional Round|
|Jan. 20||New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs||AFC Championship|
|Jan. 13||LA Chargers at New England Patriots||AFC Divisional Round|
|Jan. 12||Dallas Cowboys at LA Rams||NFC Divisional Round|
|Jan. 12||Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs||AFC Divisional Round|
|Jan. 6||Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears||NFC Wild Card|
|Jan. 20||LA Rams at New Orleans Saints||NFC Championship|
|Jan. 6||LA Chargers at Baltimore Ravens||AFC Wild Card|
|Jan. 5||Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys||NFC Wild Card|
|Jan. 5||Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans||AFC Wild Card|
Most and least popular teams
The correlation between successful seasons and most wagered-on teams truly astounds.
Though it stands to reason: Those great squads are perceived as locks each week.
Of the 10 most bet-on teams of the NFL season at DraftKings, eight reached the playoffs. (Dry your tears, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers fans.)
On the flip side, nine of the 10 least wagered-on teams finished with sub-.500 records. (Why does everyone hate the Tennessee Titans so much?)
Anyway, to reiterate: The correlation between popularity and success is incredible… and hopefully only a coincidence. Yeah, it’s a coincidence.
|Rank||Most Popular||Record||Least Popular||Record|
|1||New England Patriots||11-5 (9-7 ATS)||San Francisco 49ers||4-12 (5-11 ATS)|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||12-4 (9-6-1 ATS)||Arizona Cardinals||3-13 (7-8-1 ATS)|
|3||Los Angeles Chargers||12-4 (9-7 ATS)||Buffalo Bills||6-10 (7-9 ATS)|
|4||New Orleans Saints||13-3 (10-6 ATS)||Oakland Raiders||4-12 (6-10 ATS)|
|5||Philadelphia Eagles||9-7 (7-9 ATS)||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||5-11 (7-7-2 ATS)|
|6||Los Angeles Rams||13-3 (7-8-1 ATS)||Miami Dolphins||7-9 (8-8 ATS)|
|7||Green Bay Packers||6-9-1 (6-9-1 ATS)||Tennessee Titans||9-7 (8-8 ATS)|
|8||Indianapolis Colts||10-6 (8-7-1 ATS)||Detroit Lions||6-10 (9-7 ATS)|
|9||Chicago Bears||12-4 (11-5 ATS)||Washington Redskins||7-9 (9-7 ATS)|
|10||Pittsburgh Steelers||9-6-1 (8-7-1 ATS)||Cincinnati Bengals||6-10 (9-7 ATS)|
NFL Futures? Not as popular
First and foremost: Obviously futures bets come into play, big time, with the NFL.
In the grand scheme of sports, however, the pigskin barely came up.
Three of the top five most popular futures involved predicting the World Series winner (No. 1, Yankees; No. 4, Red Sox; No. 5, Dodgers). The third-most wagered-on futures market stands as Duke to win the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. In at No. 2, though, the Rams to lift the Lombardi Trophy. (Still alive and well, to boot.)
The final five in the ranking: Alabama to win the College Football Playoff National Championship (oh, well), the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series, the Toronto Raptors to be NBA champs, Notre Dame to win the Cotton Bowl, and the Milwaukee Bucks to reign supreme in the NBA.
The baddest beats of the NFL season
Even sure-things come back to bite you in the keister. (Although, one DraftKings Sportsbook customer turned a 10-cent four-leg parlay in $363 via player props on Oct. 28. For the not-so-math-whizzes: That parlay carried 3,630-1 odds. Good on ya.)
Yet those bad beats are what haunt bettors — and, as Jane Austen once said, “gives us pleasure in the remembrance of the past.”
Here are the baddest of the bad beats — and the sweet to our Caroline.
Week 3: New York Giants at Houston Texans
Houston entered this early-season matchup as a six-point favorite against the visiting G-Men. That’s not the number that comes into question, though.
The over/under at DraftKings closed at 43 points. For under bettors, that total seemed far-fetched.
Until the final eight minutes of the game, during which the two teams combined for three touchdowns, including a meaningless Houston score with ONE SECOND LEFT. Pre-touchdown score: 27-15 (total 42 points). Post-touchdown final: 27-22 (total 49 points).
Week 4: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Oh, good. The Texans are back. Fortunately, though, they are not the villains in this tale.
The Colts, as one-point favorites, needed a touchdown pass from QB Andrew Luck with 45 seconds left to force this game into overtime. Indianapolis then opened the scoring of the extra stanza with a field goal to go up 34-31.
All Indy backers needed was a stop. Indy failed. Houston kicked a game-tying field goal.
A push seemed likely, as, with the game tied and 24 seconds away from a tie, the Colts faced fourth down on their own side of the field. Punt the ball away, a tie is a near-lock.
Instead, Indy went for it. And came up short. One play later, the Texans booted a walk-off field goal to win 37-34.
Week 6: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
The combination of the high-scoring Buccaneers and a floundering Falcons team added up to a shoo-in for a Tampa Bay upset.
If only DeSean Jackson had surer hands.
A 3.5-point dog, Tampa scored a TD but failed to convert the ensuing 2-point conversion to trail 31-29 with less than four minutes to go. The Falcons extended their lead with a 57-yard field goal. Yet, somehow, despite trailing by 15 points at one time, the Bucs had a shot.
As time expired, QB Jameis Winston went off on a sprint. As he was wrapped up and brought down to the turf, he lateraled. The ball rolled around on the ground. A Tampa player picked it up. Then dropped it. A teammate picked it up and saw Jackson around the 5-yard line, the end zone in sight and a sure miracle about to be completed.
Jameis Winston and the Bucs almost pull off a crazy last second play to win. DeSean Jackson is kicking himself
— 🇨🇦Reign Man🏀 (@DFSBBallGuy) October 14, 2018
Week 8: Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Rams
Ah, yes. The Gurley Game.
At DraftKings, the Rams came in as 9.5-point favorites. Woof. A late touchdown run by LA RB Todd Gurley would not have made a difference there. (Although, at other NJ sportsbooks, the Rams closed at nine. Bummer.)
The consensus among all online sports betting platforms, though, was the over/under total of 56.5 points.
With just over a minute left, Gurley had an opportunity to send over backers celebrating.
Yet the running back, with nobody in front of him, held up. He went down, inside the 5-yard line, allowing LA to run out the rest of the clock and seal a 29-27 Rams win. That score potentially pushes LA’s lead to 36-27 for a total of 63 points.
Gurley doesn’t care. (Particularly about that point spread.)
— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) October 29, 2018
Week 12: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Carolina closed as 3-point favorites at home. And the Panthers had the win in the bag.
Yet their 27-20 lead late in the fourth quarter could not hold up. Even with Seattle facing a fourth down.
It was then that QB Russell Wilson connected with WR David Moore for a 35-yard touchdown that allowed the Seahawks to even the score.
Carolina had a chance, but its 52-yard field goal try sailed wide. Seattle drove right downfield, and the ageless wonder Sebastian Janikowski booted a 31-yard field goal to give the Hawks a 30-27 win and lead Carolina backers to hurling their TVs out their eighth-story windows.
Hot take: Stephen Hawking was a smart dude. If not only for one thought:
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”
Nobody aspires to be Chumbawamba, a flash-in-the-pan, one-hit wonder. The Foo Fighters’ reputation — with their extensive catalog of hits spanning a generation — is more desirable.
That’s the goal: Adapt and endure.
In New Jersey, FanDuel Sportsbook is doing just that, introducing several new features within its NJ sports betting online platform to allow the operator to stay ahead of the curve. Among them: markets for professional darts and Australian rules football, and a shared wallet with Betfair Casino NJ.
Additionally, as best it can, FanDuel remains in stride with its chief competitors in the Garden State, particularly DraftKings Sportsbook.
New markets hit FanDuel Sportsbook
Certainly the load of FanDuel’s handle and revenue stems from the major sports leagues: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, even NCAA football and men’s basketball.
FanDuel, though, has expanded its offerings.
The sportsbook recently rolled out markets for PDC darts (the professional circuit) and Australian rules football. While such niche sports likely won’t generate a significant or even notable bump in revenue, FanDuel casts a wider net. As a result, the sportsbook becomes one of a select few operations with such variety.
Fewer operators feature Australian rules lines, as only three (all Kambi Group clients) include the sport: DraftKings, SugarHouse and 888.
FanDuel promoting online casino
Over the summer, Paddy Power Betfair completed its acquisition of FanDuel and rebranded its US operation as FanDuel Group.
The new owner runs the online Betfair Casino in New Jersey, and soon after, it seemed as if the online casino would get a makeover complete with FanDuel name and logo.
While that has yet to come to pass, FanDuel has begun promoting Betfair Casino within its sportsbook.
The promotion takes users to the Betfair Casino, which does not promote FanDuel Sportsbook. Still, another innovation could help both platforms enjoy a bump in users.
FanDuel announced that customers could use their sportsbook login information to gain access to Betfair Casino.
Essentially, FanDuel will not have a shared wallet with the online casino, allowing users to navigate seamlessly between the two products. As a result, bettors will have access to hundreds of real-money casino games at Betfair Casino, including blackjack, roulette and slots.
FanDuel customers will also be offered a special promotion via Betfair Casino. Bettors will have the ability to play their first day risk-free up to $100 at Betfair. Per FanDuel: “Net losses within the first 24 hours of placing first real money casino wager will be given as casino site credit up to $100.”
On the heels of DraftKings
FanDuel’s newest features come on the heels of DraftKings Sportsbook implementing a preview of blackjack within its mobile app for Android and iOS platforms.
The New Jersey online casino industry has taken off in 2018, as monthly revenue records were set four times since March. Of course, sports betting in the Garden State has enjoyed a similar boom.
In November, sportsbooks in the state took in more than $330 million in wagers, resulting in more than $21 million in gross revenue. Online platforms alone accounted for 72 percent of the sports betting handle.
Yet sportsbooks, particularly FanDuel and DraftKings, the two mobile leaders in New Jersey, have recognized an untapped market within the online casino industry. Now both have avenues into that space, which will potentially make these companies even more powerful in Garden State.
Well, this is going to be a strange year.
The Los Angeles Clippers (15-7) are the best team in the Western Conference? And the Houston Rockets, after winning a franchise-record 65 games last season, sit outside the playoff line in the West?
The Boston Celtics are mediocre-at-best? And Kawhi Leonard is an MVP candidate/actually enjoying himself in Toronto?
Don’t worry, Tom Smykowski. No need to break out your “Jump to Conclusions” mat. It’s still early, so I’m told. Things can turn around.
What does not seem to be changing, however, is the rising popularity of sports betting in New Jersey. Other than a bit of a revenue dip in October (bettors aren’t complaining; it was a friendly month for them), overall handle continued to rise, up to an unprecedented $260 million.
Of course, the NFL can take credit for much of that trend. Certainly, though, the NBA has begun carrying its fair share of the load.
With November gone, as are two months of the basketball season. Which means it’s time for everyone’s favorite game show: Are You Smarter Than A Bookmaker? (Hint: no.)
A quick recap of NJ sports betting
Of the top 10 games most wagered on in New Jersey last month, at least at DraftKings Sportsbook, six involved the Golden State Warriors. Interestingly, though, two of the top three did not.
Actually, DraftKings’ top two NJ sports betting games featured the Trail Blazers: at home against the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 1, then at the Lakers nearly two weeks later.
Behind Golden State, the most bet-on teams at DraftKings in November included the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Raptors, and, surprisingly, the Brooklyn Nets. Conversely, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns saw the least amount of action.
DraftKings was also home to a pair of monster parlays. On Nov. 4, one bettor wagered $10 on a 12-leg NBA/NHL parlay, one that held 896.27/1 odds and paid nearly $9,000. And on Thanksgiving, a $50 bet on a six-leg parlay paid out almost $6,800 thanks, in part, to the New York Knicks taking down the Celtics (a +1000 moneyline) and the Sacramento Kings upending the Utah Jazz (at +330).
Kambi, which powers three of the biggest online sportsbooks in New Jersey, reported an even split between in-game betting and traditional pregame wagering: 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, respectively. Regarding in-play, one in every 16 wagers addresses the “next field goal” market.
Outside the moneyline, according to Kambi, the most popular pregame markets include player points lines, team spread and points line parlay, and rebounds by players. For player points bets, LeBron James and Kevin Durant see the most action.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, both online and retail, Warriors games featured more than 20,000 wagers last month. Golden State finished November as the top NBA team in generating handle. (Of note: The Warriors’ four-game losing streak proved beneficial for FanDuel, as bettors continued betting on Golden State to halt the skid.)
FanDuel also noted that the biggest NBA days for FanDuel are Fridays and Wednesdays, a result of a higher volume of games those days without much football with which to compete.
Interestingly, during last week’s Thursday night NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys, many of the patrons in the sportsbook’s simulcast lounge watched less of the football game and more of the Golden State-Toronto matchup.
Over/Under Challenge: Eastern Conference
Two months in, clearer pictures begin to emerge on the potential of NBA teams this season. As such, for those who participated in the NBA/MGM $1 million over/under contest, egos begin inflating more or deflate enough to fit the comfort of New England QB Tom Brady.
With help from FiveThirtyEight and its NBA predictions based on Elo ratings, we can examine each team’s current record and get a glimpse of their potential futures. Let’s begin with the Eastern Conference.
|*(Through Nov. 30)|
|New York Knicks||31.5||Under||7-16||29-53|
A few observations
Boston Celtics: This was supposed to be the year, Boston. You’re healthy. You’re at full force. You don’t have any excuses this year. The World Series parade beer-can-hurling was a celebration. Keep nose-diving and you’ll have thousands of this guy to deal with.
Brooklyn Nets: Name the Brooklyn starting five. Go. No? Ok, name three players on the roster. Go. Still nothing? I don’t care. Which apparently is the mindset of anyone the Nets have played this year.
Charlotte Hornets: Poor Kemba Walker. He needs to go for 50 a night just to give Charlotte a chance. There’s still hope. And if nothing else, they still have the 30th anniversary season to celebrate, replete with nostalgic throwbacks and that DOPE COURT DESIGN.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Fell into the typical Cleveland trap. Thinking a bunch of rag-tag guys could somehow be at least mediocre. Oh, well. When to pitchers and catchers report?
Milwaukee Bucks: How is it the Bucks can get all Hulkamania on the Blazers one night, winning by 43, then turn into first-half Little Giants two nights later and lose to the lowly Suns? Here’s hoping that inconsistency becomes more consistent. Or at least that Giannis Antetokounmpo stops being such a damn beast.
Over/Under Challenge: Western Conference
As for the Western Conference:
|*(Through Nov. 30)|
|Golden State Warriors||64.5||Under||15-8||52-30|
|Los Angeles Clippers||38.5||Over||15-6||52-30|
|Los Angeles Lakers||49.5||Over||12-9||44-38|
|New Orleans Pelicans||43.5||Over||11-11||43-39|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||48.5||Under||13-7||51-31|
|Portland Trail Blazers||42.5||Over||13-8||47-35|
|San Antonio Spurs||45.5||Under||10-11||37-45|
A few observations
Golden State Warriors: Clearly it has become clear that Stephen Curry is the most important piece of the Warriors puzzle. He missed all but two-and-a-half games in November. In those 11 full games without the point guard: Golden State went 5-6.
Houston Rockets: Insert party dance gif here followed by a video montage of happy crying moments.
Los Angeles Clippers: Here it is, the most overlooked, most forgotten, most best team in Los Angeles (don’t @ me). Sweet Lou Williams is an all-star, or he should be. Tobias Harris is ballin’ out. And friggin’ Danilo Gallinari is playing like it’s 2007.
Minnesota Timberwolves: What is this? Minny trades away the tyrant King George and all of a sudden you remember how to play well? Stop it. Stop this now.
Oklahoma City Thunder: See above. I won’t repeat myself. Steven Adams is the real MVP, though.
Who ya got for the end-of-season hardware?
Hot take alert. Pull the fire alarm, get out the fire extinguisher, and get out the milk to help ease the spice. The Warriors are still the heavy favorite for the NBA title, so heavy that not even Tony Perkis stands a chance at reforming them into skinny winners.
Golden State holds -200 and -160 moneylines at DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks, respectively. The Celtics (+700/+750) and Raptors (+900/+750) sit as the top contenders from the Eastern Conference.
Interestingly, despite a one-win October schedule and another losing skid to end November, the Rockets, +900 at DraftKings and +1000 at FanDuel Sportsbook, are still considered a top prospect for the NBA title. The teams climbing the ladder include the Bucks (+10,000 preseason at FanDuel, currently +2000) and the Pelicans (+9000 preseason at DraftKings, currently +3500).
To wrap up, consider the early-season MVP race and each player’s odds (at FanDuel/DraftKings):
- Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (+250/+240)
- LA Lakers’ LeBron James (+300/+460)
- Golden State’s Stephen Curry (+500/+600)
- New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (+500/+500)
- Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard (+700/+750)
- Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (+900/+1100)
- Golden State’s Kevin Durant (+1000/+1500)
- Houston’s James Harden (+1000/+1500)
Of note: Curry continues to be a top contender for the MVP, despite the fact that he missed 11 of the Warriors’ 14 games in November, while Durant, at a 50 percent success rate, carried Golden State through the month.
Where’s the respect for Damian Lillard? Dude’s ballin’ for arguably one of the biggest surprise teams of the early season. No love for the Blazers guard? One of six players in the league averaging 27 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds? The other five are serious contenders, after all. Lillard, though: +4000 at DraftKings, +6000 at FanDuel.
You know what time it is.
Ray Lewis fired teammates up with halftime pep talks. Vontae Davis prefers the Irish exit.
You may recall that highly anticipated game between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers game in Week 2 of the NFL season. No? You chose instead to flip between Billy Mays infomercials and nonsensically named committee meetings on your local public access channel? You and everybody else.
Anyway, in that game, the Bills, at home, trailed 28-6 at the half. Davis left the building. Literally. Retired. Off to go live on a beach in Zihuatanejo.
Now Davis is back. And he’s poised to score more points in his first week playing fantasy football than his former team has all season.
And, oh boy, did FanDuel ever buy into Davis’ No.-16-seed-like reputation.
‘Walk away’ and get ‘a fresh start’
Most fantasy football seasons are beginning to wind down. FanDuel, though, has stepped forward to let the DFS world know that not all is lost.
From the release:
“With the football season well past the halfway mark, many season long fantasy players must come to grips with the fact that their dreams of making their fantasy league playoffs and winning it all are over … but they don’t have to stop playing fantasy football.”
And here’s where Davis comes in:
“FanDuel, in tandem with All-Pro cornerback Vontae Davis, is here to let fans know that it’s OK to walk away from their fantasy leagues and they can get a fresh start by playing on FanDuel.”
Whatever the opposite of Irish exit is (SWAT Team entrance?), that’s what Davis apparently did.
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) November 19, 2018
On the heels of that spot, FanDuel posted a tweet with a photo of Davis pointing toward the camera: “Is your season-long fantasy team out of playoff contention? It’s time to walk away. Right, @VontaeDavis?”
Sounds like all-star trolling. But Davis, apparently, loves the campaign, which will have commercials run for three weeks. From the release:
“I know how serious fantasy owners are about their teams, it can be tough for them to admit defeat. The opportunity to get a fresh start with FanDuel and still come out on top can help with the coping process. Sometimes you just have to know when to walk way.”
The good and the bad
Bad acting aside, though good enough for Wilt Chamberlain and anyone else who appeared in “Conan the Destroyer,” the spot lands brilliantly. (FanDuel Group CMO Mike Raffensperger credited Davis’ “fantastic sense of humor,” displaying the former player’s fearlessness “to put a fun spin on a serious decision he made.”)
The humor is evident, despite an over-cheesiness that even Wisconsinites became lactose intolerant.
Naturally, though, social media took over.
Aside from some users accurately noting that Davis was never All-Pro (he was a two-time Pro-Bowler, to be fair), Twitter did not disappoint.
Some of the highlight responses:
- “I quit watching halfway through it.”
- “I think I am gonna quit playing FanDuel now.”
- “Wait, I can quit a league midway through the game and still get paid?”
And the winner of the inaugural Oak Award, given to the tweet with the most shade: “Shocked he sat around long enough to finish this promo.”
Then again, FanDuel gets its campaign shared around the Twitter-sphere. Vontae Davis is back in the limelight and already has one-third the victories Buffalo has this year.
Leaving the Bills now becomes the SECOND-best decision Davis made this season.
OK. Don’t freak out. It’s only been a few weeks. No title is won in October.
Although. I suppose it’s possible to LOSE title.
Sorry, Los Angeles Lakers. Apologies, Houston Rockets. Additional-though-insincere sympathetic comment, the rest of the Western Conference and entire NBA outside of the Golden State Warriors.
Behold, the NBA has returned. Well, not so much “season” as “countdown to Golden State’s championship.”
Entering the season, Golden State held -200 odds to win its third straight NBA title and fourth in five years. Per sportsoddshistory.com, no other team in the last 30 years has been such a heavy favorite, let alone the odds-on favorite — that is, until the Warriors earned that recognition two years ago… and then last year… and this year…
So basically, Obi-Wan Kenobi, not even you can provide hope. But hey, you can cash in on the Warriors, or on a darkhorse. Sports betting is in full swing in several states, especially in New Jersey. After each month of the NBA season, we’ll check in with NJ sports betting operations and update some preseason projections via the league’s $1 million over/under contest.
So let’s begin.
A quick recap of NJ sports betting
FanDuel Sportsbook opened the season by offering a promotion wherein bettors received a $3 bonus for every point LeBron James scored when they wagered a minimum $50 on the Lakers’ moneyline. As a result, the sportsbook doled out more than $250,000 in credit.
Another promotion that paid off was a local lock. When wagering on the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets to win (yeah, right), bettors could receive their money back (up to $100) should they lose in their respective games (Knicks vs. Hawks, Nets vs. Pistons). With the Nets losing, FanDuel reported, Brooklyn bettors got back more than $100,000 in credit.
The highlight of the early NBA betting season came Oct. 24, when “one brilliant mind,” as FanDuel described it, wagered $200 on the ENTIRE NBA BOARD! Victory came. And that 11-leg parlay, with winning odds of 1 in 650, paid out over $86,000.
Over/Under Challenge: Eastern Conference
The NBA, in its over/under contest presented by MGM, feeds hubris. It fuels the ego. No better feeling exists in life than throwing a parade, ribbon dancers abounding, with a sing-song “Told ya! Called it!” providing the soundtrack.
In an attempt to land a cool $1 million, participants examined the projected win totals for each NBA team. Correctly predicting the over/under for all 30 teams earns a seven-figure payday. (As a consolation prize, nailing 25 picks gets a gift card to the NBA Store. I’ll take the mil, thanks. And also the mil promised by a coworker, and another couple grand by another coworker. Naturally, I’ll be keeping tabs throughout the season.)
With help from FiveThirtyEight and its NBA predictions based on Elo ratings, we can not only look at current records but see a projected final record. Let’s start with the Eastern Conference.
|*(Through Oct. 31)|
|New York Knicks||31.5||Under||2-6||29-53|
Right on track
- Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets went just .500 over their first eight games. Already that seemed like overachieving. This is a franchise that won 48 games three years ago, but has consistently finished below 37 victories and out of the playoffs since its 1990s heyday. Even so, Kemba Walker, the newly crowned franchise leading scorer, has Charlotte out of the gates with confidence. Granted, the Hornets’ opponents so far wouldn’t scare a goat into a frozen fright. Yet Charlotte had three losses decided by two points or less, including against playoff contenders Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Going 1-6 in the first month is nothing to write home about. Though it will earn a pass to the front of the unemployment line, which coach Tyronn Lue indeed received. The MGM-fueled contest pegged Cleveland to still win over 30 games, which seemed rather lofty. The last time James left, the Cavs plummeted from 61 wins to just 19 victories. Still, Cleveland has weapons, even if one, Kevin Love, will be sidelined for an extended period due to injury. It’s still the East. There’s still hope for competitiveness, which has not shown thus far. Still, as FiveThirtyEight projects, the Cavs still have a chance to push for the postseason (it is the East, after all). However, if things continue to go south, certainly owner Dan Gilbert will again pull the tanking trigger.
- Indiana Pacers: The Pacers were thoroughly underrated last season. After trading away centerpiece Paul George, Indiana had only a few playmakers. And no cornerstones. At the time, anyway. Behind Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis (two pieces received from OKC in the George deal) as well as Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young and somehow Lance Stephenson, the Pacers won 48 games (17.5 more than the preseason over/under) before bowing out in the first round. This year, Oladipo has continued his rise, averaging 22 points per game in October for an Indiana team that ranked second in the league in field goal and three-point percentage. In a LeBron-less East, Indiana still seems like an heir apparent.
Off the rails
- Boston Celtics: Fifty-seven players in the NBA had better scoring averages than the top scorer for the Celtics in October. The Celtics still went 5-2. When LeBron bolted to the West, Boston jumped to the top of the list of Eastern Conference representatives in the NBA Finals. Even if Bron stayed in Cleveland, the Celtics likely would receive similar praise. Despite a strong start, though, FiveThirtyEight has Boston stumbling along the way. Yet Boston boasted six players averaging double figures in the first month while holding opponents to the second-lowest shooting percentage.
- Milwaukee Bucks: The last unbeaten team in the NBA was not the Warriors. There’s the first shock. It was not either of the East’s top contenders, the Celtics or the Raptors. Actually, it was Toronto, then undefeated, that the Bucks defeated to exit October with a flawless 7-0 mark. The Alphabet, Giannis Antetokounmpo, has again emerged as an MVP candidate for Milwaukee, which has limited opponents to the worst shooting percentage in the league. Regression to the mean can be a wonderful thing (for those taking the under), but an inexplicable slump or some bad injury luck would need to get the Bucks down to around their projected 46.5 win total.
- Washington Wizards: Easily the most disappointing first-month performance in the league. And also another black mark against Dwight Howard. A playoff team four times in the past five years, Washington didn’t just stumble out of the starting blocks. It slipped, tripped, face-planted and skidded off the track into a cart of manure. John Wall and Bradley Beal are doing what they can, both averaging more than 20 points per game in October on better than 44 percent shooting apiece. But the Wizards need a streak. Or they will post the franchise’s lowest win total since Beal’s rookie year in 2012-13.
Over/Under Challenge: Western Conference
As for the Best Western Conference:
|*(Through Oct. 31)|
|Golden State Warriors||64.5||Under||8-1||62-20|
|Los Angeles Clippers||38.5||Over||4-3||45-37|
|Los Angeles Lakers||49.5||Over||3-5||38-44|
|New Orleans Pelicans||43.5||Over||4-3||48-34|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||48.5||Under||2-4||43-39|
|Portland Trail Blazers||42.5||Over||5-2||51-31|
|San Antonio Spurs||45.5||Under||5-2||45-37|
Right on track
- Denver Nuggets: Fun challenge — name the starting five for the Nuggets. Name three players other than Nikola Jokic. Name Denver’s coach. Doesn’t matter. They don’t care. Denver wrapped up October with the second-most wins in the West, behind only the Warriors. Four of the Nuggets’ five starting regulars (all five, if you count Will Barton, who has been sidelined since the second game of the year due to injury) averaged more than 12 points per game in the first month. Not only is Denver winning the jersey war, it’s started establishing itself as a contender.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Speaking on behalf of all Seattle diehards, good. Finally, the Sonics have something to be proud of. Despite ridding itself of iso-beso master Carmelo Anthony, OKC has not put anything together. Russell Westbrook and Paul George both averaged 25 points per game, yet the Thunder shot a league-worst 27.5 percent from 3-point range, an absolute necessity in today’s game.
- Portland Trail Blazers: You would think after several years of shaming the Trail Blazers and pegging them as mediocre-at-best, oddsmakers would at some point try to provide some respect. Then again, Portland has been known to use any fodder as motivation. Still, a preseason projection of 42.5 wins, nearly seven less than last year’s total, seems to have inspired Portland more than ever before. Off to the third-best record in the West, the Blazers have under-the-radar MVP candidate Damian Lillard, the only player in October to average nearly 30 points, six assists and five boards per game.
Off the rails
- Houston Rockets: The Carmelo Anthony effect has set in. The team with the NBA’s best record last year, with a franchise-record 65 wins, went just 1-5 in October. James Harden continues to be a travelling circus (emphasis on travelling; don’t @ me), and Chris Paul, when not poking the face of Rajon Rondo, continues to be a top-tier point guard. Yet the Rockets shot the second-lowest field goal percentage in the NBA. Certainly, one would assume, Houston will right the ship. But when? How quickly?
- Los Angeles Lakers: Certainly no one, at least nobody in their right minds and nobody whose room is decorated with padded walls, expected the Lakers to become immediate championship contenders. Even an NBA Finals has not gone on without LeBron on the court since 2010. The Lakers got off to a horrid start and limped into November at 3-5. The rag-tag island of misfit toys could still find a rhythm. Most LeBron teams do at some point. Here’s hoping.
- Sacramento Kings: No. No no no. Nonononono. C’mon, Kings. Who does this? Granted, the preseason over/under for Sac-tap-town stood at a mere 26.5. And the Kings have not won fewer than 27 games since 2012. Still, Sacramento has lost more and more over the past three years. Off to a 5-3 start, Sacramento is among the league leaders in field goal (49.8) and 3-point (40) percentage. But the Kings are still young. The West is still loaded. The trademark Sactown Slump awaits. Hopefully.
Who ya got for the title?
Naturally, the Warriors continue to be odds-on favorites to win the NBA title. After just two weeks, however, several teams have argued hard enough for lines to move significantly at FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Bucks, for example, jumped from a +10,000 preseason line to +4,400 at FanDuel, while the Nuggets have climbed from +8,000 to +6,000. At DraftKings Sportsbook, Toronto went from +1,700 to +900, and the New Orleans Pelicans have gone from +9,000 to +4,500.
As for MVP odds (at FanDuel/DraftKings):
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (+240/+300)
- Steph Curry (+410/+450)
- Anthony Davis (+390/+450)
- LeBron James (+500/+450)
- Kawhi Leonard (+750/+650)
Chavez Ravine takes on a desperate, perhaps even somber, environment for Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night.
With its Los Angeles Dodgers fighting for their lives against the Boston Red Sox, trailing 3-1 in the series, the Blue Crew fanbase holds onto slim hope for the Dodgers’ first world championship in 30 years. Heck, even the dang Angels have won a title in that time. Ouch.
Once again, a Boston pinch-hitter entered the nightmares of LA fans, like Freddy Krueger in a Sox hat. Mitch Moreland inconceivably connected for a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning, his first dinger since Aug. 22, to cut a four-run Dodgers lead to one. Steve Pearce added his own name to LA’s Mount Hauntmore by blasting a game-tying homer in the eighth inning, then smacked a two-out, three-run double that capped a five-run ninth inning for Boston to build a 9-4 advantage.
Pearce’s timely hitting proved game-winning, as the Dodgers’ Kike Hernandez belted a two-run homer in the home half of the ninth, finalizing LA’s 9-6 loss.
Only six teams in Fall Classic history have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit. Fortunately, recent history leaves some optimism for the Dodgers, as the Chicago Cubs stormed back to beat the Cleveland Indians in 2016.
That said, of the 35 teams to lead 3-1 in the World Series, 18 clinched the title in Game 5. There’s the oil to hope’s water.
Onward to glory
While LA manager Dave Roberts has attempted to use the same analytical approach that helped the Dodgers reach the World Series for the second straight year, Boston has relied on its clutch hitting, its young talent, the gut-feeling decision-making of manager Alex Cora.
As a result, the Red Sox, despite a heart-wrenching 18-inning loss in Game 3, have positioned themselves for a fourth league championship since 2004. Rightly so, Boston, in the New Jersey sports betting market, has become a bigger favorite than Kirk Gibson at Dodger Stadium.
And with its core of talent, this could only be just the beginning of a Boston dynasty (again).
Looking ahead, here’s the schedule:
- Game 5 at Los Angeles: Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Game 6 at Boston: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET (if necessary)
- Game 7 at Boston: Wednesday, 8:09 p.m. ET (if necessary)
Game 5 lines
While the Dodgers hoped for anniversary magic to lead to a long-starved-for World Series title, it’s another landmark year that comes to the forefront.
The last time Los Angeles lost back-to-back Series, Tommy John was dealing for the Dodgers, and Steve Garvey and Davey Lopes anchored the right side of the infield. One loss to Boston, in any of the remaining three games, would deal LA its first back-to-back Series losses since 1977 and 1978. On top of that, the Dodgers would become the first team to lose consecutive World Series at home since the New York Giants in 1936 and 1937.
|*Multiple lines offered|
|DraftKings||BOS +123/LA -139||BOS +1.5 (-190)/LA -1.5 (+155)||7.5 (-103/-118)|
|BetStars||BOS +130/LA -150||BOS +1.5 (-182)/LA -1.5 (+150)||7.5 (-110/-110)|
|FanDuel||BOS +134/LA -150||BOS +1.5 (-170)/LA -1.5 (+150)||7.5 (-104/-112)|
|SugarHouse||BOS +123/LA -139||BOS +1.5 (-190)/LA -1.5 (+155)*||7.5 (-103/-118)*|
|888sport||BOS +120/LA -143||BOS +1 (-129)/LA -1 (+106)*||7.5 (-104/-118)*|
|Caesars||BOS +132/LA -142||BOS +1.5 (-170)/LA -1.5 (+150)||7.5 (-105/-115)|
|William Hill||BOS +132/LA -142||BOS +1.5 (-170)/LA -1.5 (+150)||7.5 (-110/-110)|
|MGM||BOS +131/LA -141||BOS +1.5 (-170)/LA -1.5 (+150)||7.5 (-110/-110)|
MVP props, props, propspropsprops
Rather than examining the most intriguing wagers at various NJ sportsbooks, it’s most likely time to begin assessing proper Series MVP candidates.
Fortunately, there are lines for that.
Start with Boston’s latest in a long line of postseason heroes.
Pearce, one of just six players in MLB history to play for every team in the same division, joined Carl Yastrzemski (1967) and David Ortiz (2004) as the only Sox players to homer and drive in four runs in a World Series game.
Those kinds of heroics hold a lot of weight, especially considering he has batted a decent .250 with no strikeouts and four walks. That, and his five RBIs lead all players this series. BetStars lists Pearce’s MVP odds at 14/1, while FanDuel Sportsbook pays +1300. Pretty good for a guy who’s changed teams nine times since 2007.
Yet Pearce sits behind four teammates in the odds column:
- JD Martinez, batting .214 with four RBIs: 5/2 by BetStars, +240 by FanDuel
- Mookie Betts, batting .211: 3/1 by BetStars, +340 by FanDuel
- Andrew Benintendi, batting .357: 7/2 by BetStars, +375 by FanDuel
- Xander Bogaerts, batting .105: 9/1 by BetStars, +1000 by FanDuel
For those still holding out hope for the Dodgers, keep holding on. The odds of completing a comeback rise dramatically with each win. Of the 17 teams winning Game 5, eight forced a Game 7. And in that deciding game, six teams clinched the title.
So, for those holding out hope, consider LA’s top three MVP candidates. Yasiel Puig, batting .235 with four RBIs and a home run, is listed at 18/1 at BetStars and +2000 at FanDuel. Teammates Justin Turner (a Series-best .381 average) and Manny Machado (.222 with three RBIS) both feature +2500 payouts at FanDuel.
Guess there will indeed be a World Series Game 5. Sorry, bettors who took the Sox in a sweep. Blame Ian Kinsler. Everyone else is.
Good morning to everyone again except Ian Kinsler.
— Only In Boston (@OnlyInBOS) October 27, 2018
Although some are a little more sympathetic.
Can anyone get this to Ian Kinsler? Thinking he might need their services. pic.twitter.com/4TWECZKNPS
— ToeKneeArmAss (@ToeKneeArmAss) October 27, 2018
Regardless, Game 3 ended after 18 innings, courtesy of a Max Muncy walk-off home run. The game featured the most inning in Series history, first set 102 years ago — between the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers (then the Brooklyn Robins), during which a fella named Babe Ruth recorded 13 shutout innings. (Oh, and Game 3 went an absurd SEVEN HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES!)
Aside from Kinsler (even the top four spots of the Boston lineup, which went 0-for-28), nothing disappointed in the third game. Pitching in his third game of relief this Series, Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi went the final six innings, throwing 97 pitches that matches the postseason high for a Sox pitcher (which Eovaldi set in the ALDS). Suffice to say, Eovaldi won’t be starting Saturday’s Game 4 as originally scheduled.
Recapping Game 3 betting action
Wagers poured in at FanDuel Sportsbook until just before 3:30 AM ET, when the game mercifully ended. For the New Jersey sportsbook, Game 3 featured the highest volume of NJ sports betting action of the MLB season.
Some 5,600 bets came down on the moneyline alone, part of a day of wagers that was 25 percent more than the previous high, the final game between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees in the ALDS. Those moneyline bets were up 40 percent from that Sox-Yankees game nearly three weeks ago.
While the majority of the handle went toward the Dodgers (52 percent), the bulk of overall wagers went with the Red Sox (63 percent). Of note, one bettor, at 1:50 AM ET, laid down $5,000 on the Dodgers to win. With a -125 line, that bet paid off $9,000.
Onward to glory
A day after it appeared Los Angeles was already set to break out its offseason fishing gear, the Dodgers are back in contention.
A Game 3 loss would have slid the nails into LA’s coffin. Instead, history has shifted to the Dodgers’ favor. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Los Angeles has won three best-of-seven series in which they trailed two games to none. In all three (the 1955, 1965 and 1981 World Series), the Dodgers, as they did this year, dropped the opening two games on the road.
As a result, the Red Sox, listed by FanDuel as -650 favorites to win the Series heading into Game 3, now see their odds drop to -280.
Looking ahead, here’s the schedule:
- Game 4 at Los Angeles: Saturday, 8:09 p.m. ET
- Game 5 at Los Angeles: Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Game 6 at Boston: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET (if necessary)
- Game 7 at Boston: Wednesday, 8:09 p.m. ET (if necessary)
Game 4 lines
Thanks to Muncy, the Dodgers have turned the tables on Boston. Home teams have won each of the first three games, a trend that bodes well for LA as it hosts Games 4 and 5.
|*Multiple lines offered|
|DraftKings||BOS +143/LA -165||BOS +1.5 (-162)/LA -1.5 (+133)||8.5 (-104/-118)|
|BetStars||BOS +140/LA -167||BOS +1.5 (-150)/LA -1.5 (+130)||8.5 (-110/-110)|
|FanDuel||BOS +146/LA -164||BOS +1.5 (-154)/LA -1.5 (+136)||8.5 (-104/-112)|
|SugarHouse||BOS +143/LA -165||BOS +1.5 (-162)/LA -1.5 (+133)*||8.5 (-104/-118)*|
|888sport||BOS +140/LA -167||BOS +1.5 (-162)/LA -1.5 (+132)*||8.5 (-104/-118)*|
|Caesars||BOS +152/LA -164||BOS +1.5 (-150)/LA -1.5 (+130)||8 (-120/+100)|
|William Hill||BOS +148/LA -158||BOS +1.5 (-150)/LA -1.5 (+130)||8.5 (+100/-120)|
|MGM||BOS +145/LA -160||BOS +1.5 (-150)/LA -1.5 (+130)||8.5 (-105/-115)|
Props, props, propspropsprops
If only there was a prop for whether Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw would pinch-hit in Game 3. What a payoff that would have seen.
Maybe an in-game wager will surface if Game 4 also goes into the wee hours. For those hoping for it, DraftKings has the line:
- Will the game go to extra innings? Yes (+800) or no (-1667).
Go start-to-finish with the wager, even.
- Which team leads after the first inning? Red Sox (+310), Dodgers (+240) or tie (-125).
Through three games at FanDuel, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and Manny Machado have represented the most wagers on players to hit a home run, the two combining for 30 percent of bets.
Additionally, Muncy has vaulted from a +3500 MVP candidate to +1300 after his walk-off heroics, while Eovaldi, despite eating the loss, has climbed from +3500 to +1700. (On the flip side, Kinsler dropped from +5000 to +7500.)
In what has become the more popular market at FanDuel, moneyline/total runs are set for Game 4:
- Boston win, over 8.5 runs: +360
- Boston win, under 8.5 runs: +360
- LA Dodgers win, over 8.5 runs: +210
- LA Dodgers win, under 8.5 runs: +195
Time to analyze trends. Through three games, only once has the home team exceeded four runs (Boston, Game 1). Only once as the visitor reached at least four runs (LA, Game 1). In two of three games, the total score amounted to an even number (Game 1: 12; Game 2: 6).
Consider that pattern when poring through this prop from SugarHouse:
- Total runs by home team: O/U 4.5 runs (-103/-127)
- Total runs by away team: O/U 3.5 runs (-120/-109)
- Total runs odd/even: -167/+130
See above, re: trends. The home team in each of the first three games scored first en route to victories.
- First team to score: Boston (-132), Los Angeles (+106)
- Home team score first and win: Yes (+165) or no (-220)
- Away team score first and win: Yes (+210) or no (-286)
Piggy-backing off the first team to score and win. William Hill throws out the home and away factors. Instead, the bookmaker poses if the first team to score overall will win: -230 for yes, +195 for no.
William Hill also features a trio of Boston vs. LA head-to-head props regarding total bases:
- Boston’s Andrew Benintendi (-110) vs. LA’s Clay Bellinger (-110)
- Boston’s Mookie Betts (-130) vs. LA’s Manny Machado (+110)
- Boston’s Xander Bogaerts (+105) vs. LA’s Justin Turner (-125)