NBA Betting: Picking the Exact Finals Matchup Props
by Darin Zank - 4/15/2012
Going into this season, and right up until a couple of weeks or so ago, picking the NBA Finalists for this season didn't look like too tough a task. The NBA isn't exactly known for being kind to longshots and underdogs, so big dogs like the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference and the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers in the West seemed fairly obvious choices.
But over the last couple of weeks the battle for the NBA Championship appears to have broken a little more wide-open than usual. Miami has struggled lately, Chicago has become a bit of a question mark because it seems to be better at times without Derrick Rose than with him, and the Boston Celtics have found new life. Over in the West the San Antonio Spurs look like they're up to their old tricks, the Los Angeles Clippers are on the rise and even the Memphis Grizzlies have poked their furry noses into the picture.
5Dimes is offering betting on the exact NBA Finals matchup, and that board is full of tempting possibilities. So as the regular season winds down let's take a look at some of the possibilities.
The leading choice on the Finals board is a matchup of the Heat and Thunder, which is being offered at +226. But the Heat, after beating Charlotte Friday night, are only 14-10 since the all-star break. And the Thunder, even after beating Sacramento Friday night, are only 3-4 over its last seven games. Those recent performances might not mean anything in the long run, but they do make me leery, and at that price I can't bite.
With OKC the favorite in most minds to win the West, the second choice on the Finals matchup board is the Thunder and Bulls, lined at +422. Both teams lead their conferences heading into the weekend, although Oklahoma City is on the verge of getting caught and passed by San Antonio.
One of these years the Spurs are going to show their age and fall off, but every time I start thinking that they win 11 games in a row, like they just did recently. Coach Gregg Popovich might catch some flak for resting his starters, but who can argue with his results? San Antonio looks hot, and they might go into the playoffs a bit pissed after getting bounced out in the first round last year.
A San Antonio-Miami Finals matchup is listed at +702, while a Spurs-Bulls pairing is getting +1,185.
A pair of matchups involving the Los Angeles Lakers come next. LA, which just beat San Antonio and has won seven of its last nine, is teamed with the Heat at +1,235, and a Lakers-Bulls Finals is getting +2,040.
A Revitalized Green Machine?
Back at the all-star break Boston sat at two games under .500 and looked about ready to open the fire sale. Somehow, though, Coach Doc Rivers has whipped this team back into contention; since the break the Celts have gone 19-8 and taken over the lead in the Atlantic Division. 5Dimes is listing a Celtics-Thunder Finals series at +2,095, Celtics-Spurs at +5,300 and Celtics-Lakers at +9,000.
Hip to be Clip?
Then we come to those former not-so-lovable losers, the Los Angeles Clippers. LA's red-headed step-sisters have turned things around this year with Chris Paul joining Blake Griffin, and the Clippers became a trendy choice in the West after their solid start. But they struggled after losing Chauncey Billups, although they have recovered a bit, winning 10 of their last 12. A Clippers-Heat Finals is getting +2,420 at 5Dimes, and a Clippers-Bulls Finals is listed at +3,950.
A Few Other Possibilities
5Dimes is listing prices for about 80 Finals combinations, but I'm not going to go too far down that list because past Finals seedings say it's not necessary. Over the past 10 years the lowest seeds to make the Finals were the 2006-07 Mavericks and 2010-11 Celtics, both four seeds.
The Indiana Pacers, winners of 12 of their last 16 games, would be the four seed in the East if the playoffs started today. An Indiana-OKC Finals series is lined at +8,400, and a Pacers-Spurs series is getting +21,000.
Memphis, which has won nine of its last 12 to pull into the five spot in the West, is listed at +2,650 paired with the Heat and +4,300 paired with the Bulls.
The defending league champion Dallas Mavericks are getting +3,100 paired with Miami and +5,050 with Chicago.
And finally, the New York Knicks, currently the seven seed in the East, are lined at +4,275 when paired with Oklahoma City and +10,700 when teamed with San Antonio.
NBA Finals Matchup: Prediction and Picks
Despite their recent struggles I still think the Heat will win the East. And in an effort to get a bit of a price I'll take them matched with the Lakers at +1,235. I'm not convinced the Thunder will win the West, but just in case I'll take OKC paired with Boston at +2,095. And finally, for a real flyer pick, I'll take the Grizzlies-Knicks matchup at +38,000.
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