May 18, 2021, 12:17 am
Quickly to set this piece up … I’m setting this up as a betting journal focusing on series prices and NBA championship prices. If I feel compelled I may add some conference finals prices or anything else random that’s not day-to-day in the NBA playoffs. I might update some strategies based on futures value earned or lost, or offer up some ‘in a vacuum’ takes as we go.
OPENING ROUND OF PLAYOFFS
The only way you’re making any money on the Nets or the Lakers this season is just flat out belief.
For the Nets it’s that they can overcome all the defensive and BBIQ BS that comes with the way they’ve been assembled, and also because of the specific players we’re talking about. If KD is the guy is he going to be able to catch the ball — yes I’m talking literally about catching the ball in order to do something on offense — at the end of games when defenses ratchet everything up. He couldn’t do it for OKC. In GSW there were penalties for selling out on KD like that. As for the ‘penalties’ … that’s James Harden and Kyrie Irving … most teams would rather be killed in this order of preference … KD last, Harden next and then most would want to be killed by Irving in relation to what it does to the rest of the offense. The bigger issue for the Nets is the fact that they’ve almost treated this like another redshirt season. Even if Harden and Irving are engaged they’re not good defensive players and that’s the top-end of that statement. We have no real evidence that they can put this together, even if we just concede that offense is going to be spectacular. For me, I want to get more than +225 for all that noise, especially with the number of teams that have a puncher’s chance of winning.
For the Lakers it’s not just the play-in game, but also the recent weirdness. Dennis Schroder gets hit with COVID guidelines and apparently doesn’t want to vax up, and the Lakers’ slide causes them to dip into the play-in game. Something? Nothing? LeBron and Anthony Davis return and everybody has terrible body language when they lose? How about Davis playing hard only in the times it was absolutely necessary during his recent adductor injury. On one hand, tough, gritty even. On the other, if you’re a teammate you’re probably thinking … all those other times you were at your own pace, were you pissed because a lot of those times it looked like you were purposefully going slow. Those games mattered for the play-in so every little bit mattered. Even if we assess them without any weird issues impacting chemistry, it’s an uphill climb, as after the Warriors and possibly the winner of Memphis/SA, they get a bunch of premium teams on the way to the Finals. Do they get rid of the Andre Drummond experiment? He’s not good and he definitely doesn’t fit this squad. That leaves Marc Gasol. Teams are going to exploit that. Montrezl Harrell is a real X-factor in that there are times he looks unplayable and others he’s making stuff happen. Can the good role players stay healthy. Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope we’re looking at you. There are more teams with solutions for LeBron than ever before — not by a lot and he’s not washed by any means — but teams can eat at his efficiency. Davis gets bigger and more skilled every year and loses some explosion in the process. This duo is probably 90% of what it was last year. Like we said with the Nets, there are a lot of teams with punching power in these playoffs and I want to get more than +450 to throw down on that as my singular bet.
The Jazz and Sixers are pretty similar from a betting standpoint. These are two teams that I might just pick to come out of their conference with or without odds considered. The Jazz really have something special with the peak Rudy Gobert experience hitting and so many quality players in rotation, knowing what they’re all about. Embracing the three, Jordan Clarkson (as we predicted) taking off and Gobert deciding to go with a leaner balance of muscle after slowing down in recent seasons — it all paid off for them. They can defend against the Lakers (and anybody), and only the best defenses will be able to slow them. They have experience, albeit none at the championship level (I don’t think). The Sixers can outright mess you up. Joel Embiid could declare himself the best player in any series and from there the Sixers have some intriguing, sit you on your ass type pieces. There’s the questions of whether you can get at Ben Simmons and zero him out for a series, and then Doc Rivers is good for a mistake or three (while overall commanding a championship level team). We’re getting good profit if either team wins and that’s just good business.
You’ll see I’ve leaned into two teams for upside in the Suns and the Heat and that’s great because the market has left them behind, and they like the Jazz and Sixers have arguments for why they’re the best in their conferences. With Chris Paul and the Suns what a story it would be if he pulled this off. Take whatever negative you think about him aside and just consider he’ll be near the top of every point guard list forever just because of his command of the game, and he has that same command right now. He has it with a coach he respects. He has it with Devin Booker, who needs to get his shit together, but can also go nuclear at any time. He also has Mikal Bridges who has a Kawhi-like career upside trajectory. Smoke on that for a second. He also has the most average No. 1 overall pick of all time at center – but that’s great for your fourth or fifth best player. He has Jae Crowder for LeBron shit and just to be experienced and effective enough to be counted on. He has Dario Saric. Hell even Cam Payne is good now. The West is a horror movie so we can’t just go nuts here but this is A-plus upside in terms of viability to ROI.
And then you get to the Miami side and they all just fit. They know what they run, they’ve made some improvements and they struggled through the first half of the season so again they’re forgotten. Why should we summarily dismiss them in a situation like this, and you tell me if the Sixers and Heat square off that you’re not afraid of Butler’s revenge. They can match up with anybody and will usually have the toughest players on the floor. I get the fatigue angles for both they and the Lakers. The price is right for us to make both the Heat and Suns our bigger upside plays.
From there we’re just honoring the depth of this year’s field with a microbet on the Knicks.
Complications from dual hand surgeries kept me from really jumping in before the series started and I’m writing this as all but one series has played two games. I will be writing less in this free section because it will be pretty obvious who I am selecting and those selections should be reserved for WagerPass members, but I’ll try to pass along some general thoughts that might be of interest. Perhaps the most interesting development is how the Hawks have been able to hide their defensive liabilities and become competitive with the top half of the bracket. Philly has their work cut out for them. They say a series doesn’t start until the home team loses but the market has turned on Denver in a big way after losing twice to Phoenix. The great Dan Besbris likes the Clippers against Utah so there could be some value there, and you should most definitely take his opinion seriously, but I’m not all the way on that train. As for Milwaukee, they have a chance to win at home but I think they’re out classed by Brooklyn.
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