NBA Finals Exact Series Prices
by Trevor Whenham - 06/03/2009
With the NBA Finals just around the corner, now is the time when people are trying to decide which team is going to win the series. Will it be the fairly heavily-favored Lakers, or will the Magic find a way to shock a third straight top team? Once you figure that out you can bet the series price, but that's not always particularly attractive - especially if you like the Lakers. If you are feeling bold, you may be able to find a better value proposition by going a step further and betting the exact series prices. In that case you not only need to decide which team will win, but also how many games it will take them to do so. Bodog is one of the books that is offering these wagers. There current odds are:
Magic 4-0 -- 40/1
Magic 4-1 -- 15/1
Magic 4-2 -- 13/2
Magic 4-3 -- 29/4
Lakers 4-0 -- 8/1
Lakers 4-1 -- 13/4
Lakers 4-2 -- 2/1
Lakers 4-3 -- 13/4
There are any number of ways that you could creatively use these odds to create a chance at a better return on the series. For example, let's say that you not only think that the Lakers are going to win the series, but that they are going to only need five or six games to do so. The Lakers are currently -270 favorites to win the series, so if you bet $100 on them to win your potential profit would be $37. If instead of the series price you bet $50 each on the two exact series prices that fit your opinion then you would make a profit of $112.50 if the Lakers won 4-1, and $50 if they win 4-2. That's a minimum of a 35 percent improvement in your profit. That could be worthwhile if you are feeling strongly about your opinion. You could also use different prices as a hedge to minimize your risk.
When you are handicapping these prices there are a number of factors that you are going to have to consider. Some are general, while others are specific to this series. Here's a look at a few of the bigger ones:
The Kobe Factor - Kobe is the best player on the planet, and you can just sense how desperate he is to prove to the world that he can win a title for himself. This is the best look that he has had at it, and he'll be playing as good as he possibly can to try to win. To handicap, then, you have to decide how much you respect Kobe and his ability to make the players around him better, and whether the Magic have an answer for all that he can bring to the table.
Jameer Nelson - Perhaps the most surprising storyline of this playoff series is the return of Jameer Nelson. Nelson was lost for the season before the trade deadline with a shoulder injury, and up until recently there had been no thought that he would return. He's a big part of the reason for the success of this team, but Rafer Alston has done a decent job filling in for him. Suddenly, though, it seems like Nelson is going to return. That means that we have to figure out how much he will play, how well he is likely to play when he does play, how long it will take him to shake off the rust, and so on. This wouldn't be nearly as big of an issue as it is if it weren't for one thing - Nelson owns the Lakers. He's averaged 27 points a game for them, and has caused more confusion for L.A. than almost any point guard in the league.
Dwight Howard - The Magic have played 19 games. Howard has led the team in rebounds 17 times. He's been the leading scorer 10 times as well. As much as any star in the league, Howard drives his team. Not only does he fuel them offensively, but he sets the defensive tone as well. This is new territory for Howard, and the pressure will be like nothing he has ever felt before. How he handles that pressure will have every impact on the outcome of the series. The Magic will arguably be hard-pressed to beat the Lakers with Howard at his best, but they almost certainly can't beat him if he falters even slightly.
Schedule - The Lakers are very good at home, and the Magic aren't much worse. Both teams are solid on the road, but not quite as strong. Where these games are played, then, will make a big difference. The Magic are 7-2 at home in the playoffs, while the Lakers are 8-2. Unlike the first two rounds, the finals are 2-3-2 instead of 2-2-1-1-1. That should make it harder for the Lakers to close out the series quickly, and it could give the Magic a boost if they come home playing well. The change in scheduling is an important consideration.