The basketball gods smiled upon us Wednesday night with a double-overtime, Game 6 thriller between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. Anyone who did not watch it cheated themselves. Anyone who does the same Friday night for Game 7 is doing themselves a disservice.
And the folks who are wagering on the game are Boston believers in a big way.
Game 7s are usually epic, and every NBA fan out there should remember how Kawhi Leonard’s last-second shot in the 2019 semi-finals bounced on the rim four times before dropping through the net to send Toronto past Philadelphia. The Raptors then went on to win the title, of course.
That seems like eons ago, what with the pandemic and all, but we are getting another Game 7 after having a pair of them in the 2020 first round, and the Celtics were 2.5 point favorites Friday morning after the line opened at 1.5 or 2 at most books.
Bettors loving the Celtics early
Where is the money going?
At FanDuel Sportsbook, an astounding 84% of point spread wagers were put on Boston as of Thursday afternoon. What’s more, 97% (yes, ninety-seven) of the money placed on moneyline bets was on the Celtics.
“It’s been one-way action since we priced the game in favor of the Celtics. We opened at Boston -1.5 but that didn’t last very long, took sharp play immediately,” said John Sheeran, Director of Risk and Trading at FanDuel. “Since then, it’s been all the public wants. Hard to see how it stays at 2 if this continues until tip-off.”
It was much of the same at PointsBet, with bettors hopping on the C’s.
“The early action has been mainly on Boston,” said Andrew Mannino of PointsBet. “But after a classic like we had in Game 6, I am sure we will see a lot more action (in the hours leading up to the game). For now, 70% of the moneyline bets and two-thirds of the spread bets are on Boston.”
Johnny Avello of DraftKings Sportsbook said the book had paid out a number of winning wagers at basically even money for the Raptors to not lose the series by more than one game. Those bets were placed when Boston was ahead 2-0.
“I expect total wagers to be in the very high six figures (for Game 7),” Avello said, adding that the drama of Game 6 and the accompanying angst it is causing for fans of the Celtics is gut-wrenching. “Imagine how Brad Stevens feels. He has never been quite this close, and he is running into a Toronto team with so much heart and toughness.”
Celtics, Raptors futures
In the futures market, the Celtics have shorter championship odds than the Raptors, with totals differing depending upon where you look.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, for example, Boston is +750 and Toronto is +1200. That’s a pretty big discrepancy for two teams that are just one win away from an Eastern Conference Finals berth. The only teams with longer title odds are the Rockets (+550), who are down 3-1 in their series with the Lakers, and the Nuggets – who are being taken apart by the Los Angeles Clippers in a series that should end Friday night unless Jamal Murray remembers how to pull off more of the magic that we have not seen from him for a couple of weeks.
We shall see if the line moves at all on Friday (a late 9:10 p.m. tipoff) as Game 7 approaches . And then we’ll also see which team moves on to face Miami.
Let’s all bet together that Game 7 is as good as Game 6 was. And may the most deserving team win.