NBA Betting Round-Up: Rockets Still Among Title Favorites Despite Dreadful Start

Written By Grant Lucas on December 3, 2018
NBA Betting

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 Sportsbooksix 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 76ersBoston Celtics, Raptors, and, surprisingly, the Brooklyn Nets. Conversely, the Cleveland CavaliersDallas 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 linesteam 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.

Atlanta Hawks26.5Under5-1722-60
Boston Celtics58.5Over11-1049-33
Brooklyn Nets29.5Over8-1432-50
Charlotte Hornets35.5Over11-1042-40
Chicago Bulls28.5Over5-1722-60
Cleveland Cavaliers30.5Over4-1629-53
Detroit Pistons40.5Over11-743-39
Indiana Pacers46.5Over13-949-33
Miami Heat41.5Over7-1333-49
Milwaukee Bucks46.5Under15-655-27
New York Knicks31.5Under7-1629-53
Orlando Magic30.5Over10-1235-47
Philadelphia 76ers54.5Under15-851-31
Toronto Raptors54.5Under19-459-23
Washington Wizards44.5Over8-1335-47
*(Through Nov. 30)

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:

Dallas Mavericks35.5Under10-938-44
Denver Nuggets46.5Over14-752-30
Golden State Warriors64.5Under15-852-30
Houston Rockets56.5Over9-1146-36
Los Angeles Clippers38.5Over15-652-30
Los Angeles Lakers49.5Over12-944-38
Memphis Grizzlies32.5Over12-840-42
Minnesota Timberwolves44.5Under11-1142-40
New Orleans Pelicans43.5Over11-1143-39
Oklahoma City Thunder48.5Under13-751-31
Phoenix Suns27.5Under4-1719-63
Portland Trail Blazers42.5Over13-847-35
Sacramento Kings26.5Under10-1135-47
San Antonio Spurs45.5Under10-1137-45
Utah Jazz48.5Under10-1244-38
*(Through Nov. 30)

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 points6 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.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf.

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