Bet on Potential NBA Finals Matchups
by Trevor Whenham - 03/11/2009
You can bet on which teams you think are going to win the two conferences in the NBA, or which team is going to win it all, but for some people those just don't offer a big enough payoff to be interesting. People who have a taste for more action might want to look at the NBA Finals matchup props available now on Sportsbook.com. This prop allows you to bet on both teams at once - an effective parlay of the two conference winners. Here's a look at some that I find interesting, and some that just don't offer enough value to be worthwhile. We'll look at them as they are listed - by the Eastern Conference teams involved:
Cleveland Cavaliers vs:
On paper Cleveland doesn't necessarily have the depth to go all the way. They are a better Cleveland team than the last version that went to the Finals, though, and LeBron James gets better in every game. Mo Williams has been one of the bigger surprises in the league all year, and consistently wills his team to wins. Cleveland has the best record in the East, and clearly have what it takes to win it all.
L.A. Lakers - +200 - This is the second favorite on the whole board, and probably the one that most casual fans would like to see. It's hard to justify this as a worthwhile investment at this price, though - too many things could go wrong.
San Antonio Spurs - +900 - You'd never have guessed this one given how poorly the Spurs played to start the year. They are still so colorless that they are virtually invisible, but they have the experience and the depth, and they have shown that they can beat the Lakers this year. This price might not be great, but it's a bargain compared to the Lakers.
Houston Rockets - +2500 - The Rockets are hot, going 8-2 in the last 10 to move into third place in the conference. Still, they are only the fifth highest price in the conference here. That could indicate some value. They are finally reasonably healthy, and they have no shortage of wily veteran talent.
Utah Jazz - +1500 - If the Rockets are hot then the Jazz are burning up - they haven't lost in 12 games. A good point guard is so important to a playoff run, and Deron Williams is just tearing opponents up this year.
Boston Celtics vs:
The Celtics have the edge in experience over the Cavs and the Magic, and they have beat Cleveland twice in three tries this year. The biggest concern has to be health, though. Kevin Garnett has missed a lot of action recently. The Celtics have held their own without him now, but they couldn't do the same thing in the playoffs. The Celtics are favored over the Cavs, and that is reflected in the prices for the matchups, but the combination of Boston's age and injury problems makes me a bit uneasy about the prices associated with them.
L.A. Lakers - +175 - This rematch is seen as the most likely outcome by bettors. Boston probably isn't hoping for it, though - the Lakers have won both meetings this year. One thing to mention, and here is as good a place as any, is that the Lakers have been struggling lately, dropping three of their last five - all on the road. Every team goes through bad blips, and Boston had a whopper of a downturn earlier in the year, but Lakers obviously need to solve that which has been plaguing them recently.
The rest of the numbers are, as you would expect, just slightly lower than those for the Cavs.
Orlando Magic vs:
Dwight Howard is an incredibly compelling player, and the Magic are hanging out right behind the big two up front. I'd obviously be more excited about the long term prospects if Jameer Nelson were healthy and active, but it has been impressive how well the team has done without their spark plug in the back court.
The Magic are 1-2 against Boston and 1-0 against the Cavs, so they clearly are good enough to give either team a solid contest. If you believe in the Magic then you can get some comparative value here. The Lakers, for example, are at +900, the Spurs at +3500, the Jazz at +5500, and the Rockets at +9000. Any of those would give your bankroll a nice boost.
All the rest
It's reasonably hard to imagine any team beyond those big three sneaking through to the finals. A team in the East would likely have to beat at least two of the big three, and that would seem, from this perspective, to be almost impossible - especially in the NBA where the cream has a tendency to rise to the top over the long term. That doesn't mean that there isn't room for dreamers, though. For comparison, the Lakers can be had at +11000 when paired with the much-improved Bulls, +4000 for the finally decent Hawks, +5000 for the 76ers, +3000 combined with Dwyane Wade and his Heat, and +3500 with the Pistons. If you really don't like your money you could always bet that the pairing will be the Raptors and the Lakers. It won't happen, of course, but it would pay a sweet 300/1 if it did. The longest shot on the board pairs the Raptors with either the Suns or the Mavericks at the astronomical price of 5200/1.