Tyler Herro scored 37 points in 36 minutes off the bench two nights ago as Miami took a 3-1 lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not bad for any NBA player, much less a rookie.
The sportsbooks responded in kind, reducing Herro’s odds on being MVP of the NBA Finals from 100-1 to 40-1.
Magic Johnson is the only player in NBA history to win the Finals MVP award in his first season, doing it while playing center in the clinching Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Playing out of position on May 16, 1980, Johnson went off for 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, leading Los Angeles to its first championship since 1972.
This is relevant today because somebody is going to win Finals MVP in 2020, and the odds were adjusted overnight after the Lakers took a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. If Miami wins tonight and LA wins Saturday night, we’ll have our Finals matchup. Then again, if both the Celtics and Nuggets can come back from 3-1 deficits and win in seven games, it’ll be Boston vs. Denver – something you can get today at DraftKings Sportsbook at +8000.
Expect the unexpected
Let’s not forget, the Nuggets have already become the first team in NBA history to rally back from a pair of 3-1 deficits in the same postseason. And as down as the Celtics may seem, they have the talent to win one game at a time three times in a row.
Yes, it is unlikely. But we should remind everyone that this is 2020 – the year of the unlikely. And when DK had a prop bet up on Sept. 16: “Will the Nuggets come back from a third 3-1 deficit and defeat the Lakers 4-3?,” a whole bunch of action came in on “Yes” at odds of 91-1.
“We’re going to take a bath on that one if Denver does it again,” said Johnny Avello, head oddsmaker at DraftKings.
But back to the Finals MVP wagering side of the equation. Herro was +10000 to be selected MVP of the Finals just a couple short days ago, and this morning he is down to +4000 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Teammate Jimmy Butler is down to +900, Bam Adebayo is +1200, while Goran Dragic is +2200 and Duncan Robinson has dropped from +100000 to +40000.
This, folks, is a representation of the bubble factor, which goes something like this: Because these final four NBA teams are playing at a neutral site, factors that would normally be at play such as rookies being spooked by a hostile road crowd, are no longer factors. Hence the drop in price on Herro.
With the Celtics being left for dead for Friday night’s Game 5, believers in the power of leprechauns have some choices today. Jayson Tatum is +2800, but no other Celtic is lower than +10000. And Marcus Smart, the guy that seems to make everything happen for Boston, is +15000 at DraftKings.
As for the Nuggets, the kings of the unlikeliest of comebacks, last night’s loss to the Lakers moved their odds in a huge way. They are now +3600 at FanDuel Sportsbook, +3300 at PointsBet and +4000 at DK.
As for Finals MVP odds, Nikola Jokic has dropped to +7000 and Jamal Murray to +10000 – lower odds than what we saw earlier this week prior to the Nuggets coming back to win Game 3. Jerami Grant, who has come though in the box score in the two most recent games and is playing major minutes, is +100000 at DK.
And then we have the Lakers, who everyone in the oddsmaking business is convinced are certain champions. LeBron James remains the prohibitive favorite to win Finals MVP at -110, and Anthony Davis is second at +210.
“The thinking is that while Davis may get 30-plus points per game, LeBron does everything, and the MVP usually goes to the guy who does everything,” Avello said.
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NBA Finals MVP longshots, Over/Under betting
Want an outlier on that Lakers team, a guy known for coming through in the clutch year-after-year-after-year in the playoffs? Well, Rajon Rondo is +20000 at DK after playing 22 minutes last night and going for 11 points and seven assists. If the guy gets inserted into the starting lineup for the Finals, those odds could get interesting.
Look, there are certain guys with certain qualities who always come up big in the postseason. Rondo is one. Andre Iguodala of the Miami Heat is another. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra has not been using him much, but if someone is needed to defend LeBron in the next round, and that certain someone is Iguodala for a championship-winning team, then Iggy at +40000 may be worth a flier for Heat fans. Heck, the guy is a three-time champion who has hit tons of clutch shots during his career, and Pat Riley brought him in for a reason. If he locks down LeBron, those odds could get interesting.
The point here is that the Lakers are chalk. Everyone else is a worthy wager if you do not believe the Lakers winning the title is fait accompli.
Heck, the Celtics are favored by 3.5 points tonight in Game 5 despite trailing 3-1. At FanDuel, folks in the legalized US sports gambling market see an opportunity. Some 65% of the bets and 39% of the spread money is on the Heat. Seventy-six percent of bets and 51% of the dollars on the moneyline are on the Heat, and 80% of bets and 69% of the Over/Under money is on the Over (213).
The Over hit last night in the Lakers vs. Nuggets game, meaning we have not seen an Under hit since last Sunday when the Lakers and Nuggets missed by 8.5 points. So the trend of Unders hitting over and over and over again is …. over?
But the postseason is not over, and if what we have seen so far is any indication, there are a ton of surprises in store. Surprises are good for non-chalk bettors, so wager wisely if you do not believe in the Lakers. If it hits, the payoff will be amazing.