The oddsmakers were way off in their predictions, the sharp bettors were way off in their wagers, and that translated into a hugely profitable day for the legalized US sports betting entities that took tons of action on the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The NBA playoffs were shocking this week for so many reasons. First and foremost among them being the Milwaukee Bucks’ 12-point loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 1 after being set as 14-point favorites. Anyone who took the Magic and laid 25 points is dining on truffles and lobster this week.
Equally shocking was the point total in the Lakers’ Game 1 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers: 193. The over/under for that game was set at 232, the highest point total on the board Tuesday, and it missed by as astounding 41 points.
Get this: FanDuel Sportsbook reported that 98% of the action it took on that over/under was on the over. Apparently the sharps and the public bettors all failed to remember that the Lakers had the worst offensive rating of any NBA team during the seeding round of bubble play, and those woes carried over as LeBron James’ team managed only six points over the final seven minutes of the game.
“Great day for the book on the NBA with Lakers being the best supported team of the day,” said John Sheeran, Director of Risk and Trading at FanDuel Sportsbook.
You know that line about how there is a reason why they build big hotels in Las Vegas? Tuesday was a case in point as to why that is true.
Everyone has a bad night now and then
Gamblers who went down hard Tuesday still have plenty of time to recoup their losses, but the sting of how different these NBA playoffs are, and how that is impacting the wagering markets, is quite painful for a lot of people to bear this week.
The Lakers’ loss prompted the major US sportsbooks to raise the odds on their chances of winning the title after they had been listed as the co-favorite along with the Bucks for almost the entire spring and summer. DraftKings Sportsbook now has them at +400, FanDuel moved them to +500, PointsBet put them at +325, and BetMGM has them at +350.
The odds on the Bucks stayed more or less the same, a result of their road to the Finals being much easier because of the weaker competition in the East – although the futures odds on the Toronto Raptors have been steadily dropping.
The Clippers, who defeated the Dallas Mavericks in a thrilling Game 1, are now the consensus favorites to win the title.
With the playoffs only three days old, nobody can argue that the action hasn’t been compelling. Yet the only ones celebrating in the gambling community are the contrarians who took notice of the Bucks’ and Lakers’ poor play in the seeding games and capitalized upon it in the wagering market.
“If the Lakers go down 0-2, they’ll of course see a drift in Western Conference and NBA title odds,” said Andrew Mannino, senior sports content analyst at PointsBet. “We don’t expect it to happen, but it’s possible. Just how far they’ll drift depends how they lose. If the Lakers go down again while shooting 5-for-30 from 3, it’s not a huge deal. If it’s worse, the drift will most likely be significant. We could potentially see them moving to the +450 range for the NBA title, but our substantial Lakers liability will limit our aggression.
“[Tuesday] was great for the book – especially with all the favorites going down early, which usually sparks a surge of bettors backing them in-play at whatever price/line they can get,” Mannino said. “Bettors have recently been winning in those situations, so it was good to get one back with both the Bucks and Lakers games.”
Coming off their Game 1 win, the Blazers’ title odds are now in the +2800 to +3300 range. Quite a change from when we told you earlier this summer that they were worth a flyer at 300-1.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda … eh?
Well, it’s still early, and overreactions to Game 1 upsets are as common in the NBA as Luka Doncic getting knocked on his head or clunked in the head without a foul being called. Along those lines, can someone please set a line on the first time Mark Cuban complains and gets fined about this recurring happenstance?
The Mavs are on the board in the +5000 to +6600 range – same as the Utah Jazz – and that tells us that folks do not believe that Donovan Mitchell or Doncic can take their teams through four rounds of the postseason with four victories in each series.
We shall see, but keep in mind that bubbleball takes away the charge that home teams gets from feeding off the energy of their fans. So what it comes down to is which team can establish positive momentum and sustain it for weeks and weeks and weeks, which is sort of what Portland seems to be doing. Just imagine if the Suns, who went 8-0 in the bubble, had gotten in?
The books get revenge
DraftKings took 19% of its moneyline bets in the Orlando-Milwaukee game on the Magic, and 32% of its moneyline bets on the Trail Blazers. So those hefty payouts mitigated the amount of money DK earned on the heavy Bucks and Lakers action, but at least DK took those wagers. Quite often, bettors are unable to find anyone to take a moneyline bet when a game line is as high as what we saw in Game 1 of Milwaukee – Orlando.
“The Lakers took a good deal of money, so we had a good day overall, but it was a bloodbath here for several days before that with all the chalk teams winning Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” said Johnny Avello, head of sports trading at DK. “As for the Lakers, I just don’t know what to say about them. They got great games from LeBron and Anthony Davis, but they need to get help from somewhere else.
“If they go down 0-2, you’ll see the highest price on them that you’ve seen in the past two years, and I cannot recall it ever being higher that 3-1 or 7-2,”Avello said.
FanDuel will apparently one-up DraftKings is that happens.
“If the Blazers win game 2, it’ll be hard for the Lakers, so I would expect their odds to be in the 8/1 – 10/1 range.” Sheeran said.
By Friday morning, we’ll know what those look like.
In the meantime, keep expecting the unexpected. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: 2020 is unlike any year we’ve seen in our lifetimes, and that certainly extends to the sports gambling world.