At last, the NBA finals are here! The long season the fans and NBA family have endured during the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is now coming to a close. Two teams, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat remain as we inch closer to crowning a champion.
To nobody’s surprise the LA Lakers are favorites to not only win Game 1 but, to win the series. So is there any value betting the Lakers as outright series winners? Currently, the line sits at (-360) at the time of writing according to FanDuel Sportsbook. This means that if you were to bet $100 on the Lakers you would win $27.78. Miami’s current line sits at (+275). Betting $100 towards this number would win you $275. During the regular season, the Lakers were 52-19 (73%) SU and 12-3 (80%) SU this postseason. On the other side, the Miami Heat were not as great as LA during the regular season (44-29 SU) however, they have been just as good posting the same 12-3 (80%)SU record during the playoffs.
How we differentiate their deadlocked playoff SU records would be to analyze each team’s performance under similar circumstances throughout the season. Barring any injury or Covid-19 related setback the LA Lakers are expected to be favorites each game of this series. Given that the Lakers are (-360) favorites to win the NBA Finals outright, we’ll look into how they’ve performed as favorites this season. As favorites, the Lakers have gone 56-20 (74%) and have been favored in every game this postseason going 12-3 (80%). On the other hand, Miami’s 16-19 (46%) record as underdogs this season can be a bit deceiving considering their 7-3 (70%) underdog record during the playoffs. Given the recent performances, one could argue that these two teams are not as far apart as the current (-360) line would suggest. This can be interpreted as the Lakers being considered overvalued at the current line.
Game 1: LA Lakers (-4.5)/Miami Heat (+4.5)
Against the spread (ATS) betting is a bit different than betting on an outright winner. The Lakers are currently -4.5 point favorites at the time of writing for Game 1 of the NBA finals, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. This means that LA would need to win by 5 or more points to cover the given spread. Are the Lakers 5 points better than the Miami Heat? Considering the original consensus spread opened at -5 for the Lakers and since has been lowered by a half point to -4.5, it can be interpreted by the given line movement that LA may not be 5 points better than Miami for the opening game of the NBA finals. Looking into some ATS trends for these two teams, the Lakers were 37-37-2 (50%) ATS during the regular season and 9-5-1 (64%) in the postseason.
Miami was quite similar posting a 36-35-2 (51%) ATS record during the regular season but they have slightly outshined the Lakers during the playoffs with a 12-3 (80%) record ATS. Given the similarities between these two teams regarding how they’ve faired against the spread both during the regular season and in the postseason, it can be hard to lay the -4.5 points on the Lakers considering there’s not much separation with ATS performance. Both teams are hot right now, Miami is just a bit hotter with the better postseason ATS record up to this point. At least for Game 1 Miami (+4.5) would be the better bet.
Pick: Miami Heat +4.5