The fun and games of the NBA All-Star Weekend are over. It’s time for teams to get down to business.
Sportsbooks are also starting to get a lot more serious about the NBA, especially the championship futures odds. There are plenty of contenders out there that could hand the books a big loss if they managed to win the NBA title this spring.
We talked to sportsbooks in Las Vegas and online to see which NBA teams they’re rooting against as the march to the playoffs begins.
Los Angeles Lakers (Opened: +800, Moved: +200, Currently: +5,000)
It doesn’t matter how good or bad the Lakers look, people are betting them. Among all the sportsbooks we talked to, each listed Los Angeles as their highest liability.
Before signing Steve Nash, L.A. was at +800 but then moved to +450. It moved to +200 following the Dwight Howard deal. Now, sitting in 10th place in the West, the Lakers are long shots just to make the playoffs. But that hasn’t stopped futures bettors from getting down on the Purple and Gold.
“How often are you going to see the Lakers at 50-1?” Jay Kornegay, executive director of race and sports at the LVH Superbook in Las Vegas, told Covers. “This is a Lakers town. You can tell that just by the ticket count.”
Boston Celtics (Opened: +2000, Moved: +4,000, Currently: +3,000)
The Celtics are always among the most popular plays for NBA futures books. Boston jumped from +2,000 to +4,000 when star point guard Rajon Rondo went down for the season, giving the C’s their highest value.
Boston has responded well to the loss, winning eight of nine heading into the All-Star break and coming down to +3,000 at some markets. However, the Celtics have a daunting schedule to open the home stretch, playing nine of their next 11 games away from home.
“To the surprise of many, they have coped well without Rondo. But big questions remain about whether that will last,” Aron Black of Bet365.com told Covers. “There are a lot of veterans on the team, so there is a good core of players to pick up the slack. But losing such a big piece of the team is never going to be easy in the long run.”
San Antonio Spurs (Open: +1,000, Moved: +1,200, Moved: +700, Currently: +500)
The Spurs were the biggest threat to books last season and are right back in the mix again this year. San Antonio, despite an aging core and injuries to key players, owns the best record in the NBA at the break (42-12 SU, 30-22-2 ATS) and took most of its futures action at its discount price tag earlier in the year.
“You seem to get money on (San Antonio) every year,” Jimmy Vaccaro, veteran oddsmaker for William Hill Nevada, told Covers. “You know you’re going to get the effort, win or lose, and you’ve seen them win without (Tim) Duncan, (Tony) Parker and (Manu) Ginobili. Any time you bet on the Spurs, you have a great chance of going deep into the playoffs.”
Indiana Pacers (Opened: +1,500. Moved: +6,000, Currently: +1,000)
Despite losing their top-scorer before the season began, the Pacers have hung tough in the Eastern Conference at 32-21 SU. It was actually Danny Granger’s knee troubles that made Indiana a liability to the futures book. Oddsmakers bumped the Pacers from +1,500 to +6,000 when news broke of Granger’s absence and now he's close to returning for the playoff push.
“We took a whole lot of money on the Pacers when they went to 60-1,” Craig Sasamura, sportsbook supervisor at the MGM Mirage, told Covers. “We don’t want to see the Pacers get there. It would pretty much be a wash if they did.”