A massive handle through the first two games of the NBA Finals has sportsbooks thanking their lucky stars the Indiana Pacers didn’t upset the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Sportsbooks online and in Las Vegas are reporting what some say is a “record handle” on the first two games between the Heat and San Antonio Spurs, and expect that interest to continue through the rest of the series.
“This has been record handle so far and, given the way it’s gone, we could be looking at a long series as many anticipated,” Aron Black of Bet365.com told Covers.
Black says there was more money wagered on Games 1 and 2 of the finals than an entire season’s worth of NBA futures and NBA Finals series prices combined.
"To be honest, it goes up every year, regardless of teams," he says. "That's mainly due to global customer-base growth as well as availability on devices to bet with iPhone, android, tablet, etc. Last year saw the biggest action overall, with two very popular teams in Miami and Oklahoma City. But the last three years have seen large action per game, and this one is taking the cake for most action."
In Las Vegas, sportsbooks took lighter action on Game 1 Tuesday but were extremely busy for Game 2 Sunday. According to Jeff Stoneback, sportsbook manager at the MGM Mirage, the handle for Game 2 was 20 percent higher compared to Game 3 of last year’s NBA Finals, which also fell on a Sunday.
“Business has been very good, but I wouldn’t call it a record handle,” Stoneback told Covers. “I think a lot of that action was driven by the Heat losing the first game. People saw that as a good opportunity. We had more money on the Miami moneyline. We opened it -280 and closed it at -360.”
Down the road, the LVH Superbook was swamped by similar action. They had a near even split on Game 1 and a big lean towards the Heat in Game 2.
“The handle has been tremendous through the first two games,” Jeff Sherman, assistant manager at the LVH Superbook told Covers. “As for Game 3, it’s starting to trickle in but a majority of our handle comes in the hours leading up to the game.”
Oddsmakers currently have the Spurs set as 2-point home favorites for Game 3 Tuesday night.