Welcome to another playoff edition of the NBA Betting Notebook. Our NBA Notes this week feature a flurry of award news, unruly fans, and Boston’s fading title odds. Let’s dive in.
NBA Notebook: May 13
Click on each item to read the full update.
- Williams absence sinks Celts
- The Full Monty
- Jokic beats Embiid for MVP again
- Morant done — are Grizzlies?
- Fan fail in Dallas
- Upcoming NBA schedule
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NBA betting news for this weekend
Celtics title hopes fade with Robert Williams’ absence
The Boston Celtics, who have been steadily rising as NBA Finals favorites among sportsbooks, were dealt twin blows this week. Most recently, they lost an instant classic to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, who completed a dramatic comeback victory in Game 5. Jrue Holiday single-handedly swung the game for Milwaukee in the final moments with a block of Marcus Smart where he somehow managed to also save possession. He then followed that up with the steal that iced the game, again at the expense of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
The Celtics had led by 9 going in the final frame and must know they let one get away. Hanging over all of this has been the absence of Robert Williams III, who has now missed two straight games due to soreness on his surgically-repaired left knee. Williams’ play revolutionized the Celtics on both ends this season, and though the five-out offense held up for a time against the Bucks, their inability to slow Giannis Antetokounmpo proved their undoing. After hovering near co-favorite status only recently, Boston has now slipped all the way to +1,000 to win it all at Betway.
Monty Williams wins Coach of the Year
After finishing as the runner-up to the New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau last year, Monty Williams has won the NBA Coach of the Year award. The award cements Williams’ status as one of the league's best coaches and shows well-deserved praise for Williams and his staff.
Leadership. Mentorship. Companionship.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 9, 2022
Congratulations, Coach Monty Williams, on earning the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year. pic.twitter.com/XPpJdYhhZ4
The Suns are going to need every bit of Williams’ brilliance now as they prepare to face Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 on Sunday, May 15th. The home team has won every game in the series, but all it would take now is some hot shooting or a touch of Luka Magic to send Williams and the Suns home in disappointing fashion.
Nikola Jokic wins second consecutive MVP
Following one of the most hotly-contested campaigns in NBA history, Nikola Jokic has won the 2021-2022 NBA MVP Award. Some last-minute online skepticism posited that perhaps Joel Embiid snuck in under the wire, but in the end, Jokic captured 65 first-place votes on his way to a second consecutive MVP trophy. Though Embiid only captured 26 place votes, in terms of total points it was a close-run thing, as Jokic totaled 875, Embiid 706, and Giannis 595.
Surprise in Sombor?????????? We flew to Serbia to surprise the BACK-TO-BACK MVP! And, wow, this moment was special. pic.twitter.com/aFvIEDgnSj— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 11, 2022
It will be intriguing to see where the oddsmakers place Jokic coming into next season, as despite his previous win, Joker began the year at just +1,500 to repeat. Only Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird have won three consecutive MVP trophies, but Jokic remains at the peak of his powers, and the cavalry will be coming to help him with the returns of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.
Ja Morant suffers potentially season-ending bone bruise
The Memphis Grizzlies put the smackdown on the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 to the tune of 39 points, but it all felt a bit hollow as Ja Morant was relegated to the role of cheerleader on the sidelines. Ja suffered a potentially season-ending bone bruise to his knee during Game 3, an injury that the Grizzlies at least are claiming was the result of a strange play where Jordan Poole grabbed Morant’s knee and seemed to tweak it.
Whether this caused Morant’s injury or not, Memphis’ title hopes for the year are finished without him. But that doesn’t mean the series is over just yet. The Warriors essentially punting Game 5 up 3-1 should be concerning and could signal an opportunity to aggressive bettors. The Warriors might have lost Otto Porter Jr. for the series, Klay has been feast or famine, and Desmond Bane seems to have finally recovered from his back injury.
Without Ja, the Grizzlies have no defensive weak links, and with Steven Adams back, they’ve recaptured their identity on the offensive glass. Losing Ja sinks their championship hopes for this season, but there might yet be money to be made betting Memphis to cover tonight.
Mavericks fans ejected and banned
Inappropriate fan behavior has become an increasing issue in recent years across the NBA, reaching perhaps a new low this week as members of Chris Paul’s family were subjected to unwanted physical contact by a pair of Mavericks fans in Game 4 in Dallas. The two fans were ejected and banned until 2023, which frankly seems a light sentence given the absolute taboo against making physical contact with players, NBA staff, or their families.
A source familiar with Chris Paul's tweet after Game 4 told ESPN that Paul's mother had hands put on her by Dallas fans and Paul's wife was also pushed. To make matters worse, Paul's kids witnessed it. "They felt very unsafe," the source said.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 8, 2022
Given the harsh penalties that players consistently face for merely voicing their displeasure with fans (who, in turn, can spew vitriol with relative impunity), the NBA should take a firm hand in incidents like this. The open viewing experience of watching a live basketball game is one of the great joys of the sport and discouraging such fan behavior is essential in order to preserve it.
NBA schedule for this weekend
Friday, May 13
• Celtics vs. Bucks (Game 6), 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
• Grizzlies vs. Warriors (Game 6), 10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sunday, May 15
• Bucks vs. Celtics (Game 7), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (if necessary)
• Mavericks vs. Suns (Game 7), Time/TV TBD, (if necessary)
Monday, May 16
• Grizzlies vs. Warriors (Game 7), 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT (if necessary)