When the San Antonio Spurs clinched first place in the Western Conference Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t the only ones grinding their teeth.
Oddsmakers, who took a lot of action on the Spurs at fairly long odds to win the NBA Championship, felt an uncomfortable lump in their throat. San Antonio wasn’t expected to hold up during the grueling 66-game schedule, and was available at as large as 30-1 to win the NBA title.
“They weren’t considered to be major contenders coming into the year but they just kept winning all season,” says Greg Sindall, an oddsmaker for SportsInteraction.com. “Some people must be feeling pretty good going into the playoffs with a futures bet on a team that is over .700 at 30-1.”
The Spurs, who are now +550 to win the NBA Championship, are among a handful of teams that pose a threat to sportsbooks this postseason. If one of these clubs makes a run to the NBA title, basketball bettors can chalk one up for the good guys.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers opened the season at 50-1 to win the NBA title, and a few brave bettors swooped in and took a shot on L.A.’s other team. Then, Chris Paul was traded to the Clippers and all hell broke loose.
“We got a handful of $500 bets at that number,” Mike Pierce, an oddsmaker for Sportsbook.com, says about the Clippers’ opening odds. “This was before they landed Chris Paul. We moved the Clips to 15-1 to win the NBA shortly after they acquired CP3.”
Los Angeles sits fourth in the Western Conference and is just one game behind the rival Lakers for the lead in the Pacific Division. The Clippers are currently 25-1 to win the NBA title.
In a similar note as the Spurs, the Celtics were deemed too damn old to challenge during the lockout-shortened season. But, experience paid out and Boston has fought its way to the top of a weak Atlantic Division and a Top-4 spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Books took a lot of futures action on the Celtics due to their loyal following, especially when they dropped as low as 50-1 in the futures market with trade rumors swirling about Beantown. But Boston turned it around after the All-Star break and heads into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league.
“We tried to entice people to bet them, and a few people did for $500 a pop,” says Pierce. “Now the C’s are playing their best basketball of the season, having won the Atlantic and are a legit threat to win the NBA.”
Boston is currently priced at +2,000 to win the NBA Championship.
New York Knicks
The Knicks’ futures have gone for a wild ride, opening the year with promise then stumbling due to injuries, only to give birth to “Linsanity” and draw more futures action before giving up and getting their coach fired. And just when you thought New York was done, it springs to life with Carmelo Anthony carrying the club to a playoff spot.
The Knicks were at 75-1 to win when Jeremy Lin captured the world’s attention, drawing some nickel plays on their championship futures and odds to win the Eastern Conference at 40-1.
“Some of that Knicks money came in at the height of Linsanity,” says Sindall. “We had the Knicks paying 30-1 during the start of his run in early February and they were down to 22-1 by the end of the month.”
New York heads into the playoffs set at +4,000 to win the NBA title.