Let's face it. We all love a long shot, a price or that big score we can dream about. Here's some simple advice: still time to look over the Kentucky Derby future book, the Major League Baseball World Series winner or get lucky at the club late on Saturday night. But forget about betting against the winner of the first round in each series of the NBA Playoffs. It aint gonna happen. Kobe's 60-point farewell game is in the books and forgotten for now. Besides, history proves betting against first round favorites and the betting lines further tell the story.
Most amazing is the incredible greed the NBA continues to pile on its fans, television viewers and mostly worn-out players themselves year after year. Remember "the good ol days" when the first round was Best of Five and most lower seeded teams were quickly forgotten into the next round? Perhaps the biggest fear the top teams experience is a key injury to a major starter in April blowing what they have planned for June. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was likely very nervous witnessing Stephen Curry's sore ankle in Game One. Take note if you plan to bet Cleveland giving 12 that Lebron James is likely to sit any game with a 15-point lead and 2:00 minutes on the clock.
First Round Seeds and Reads
It wasn't that long ago that there wasn't such a thing as a seventh or eighth round seed in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Eight teams per conference and four full playoff series seemed like a waste of time. But the chance for arenas full of triple digit ticket prices for every game plus expanded ESPN and TNT network revenue was too tempting. In fact, the word "seeded" didn't even appear in our vocabulary until the NCAA Tournament became a gambling phenomenon.
Breaking down the first round you can virtually eliminate the 6th, 7th and 8th NBA seed as betting potential. Only the Boston Celtics-Atlanta Hawks match-up in the East offers any wagering series intrigue. I might also venture up the Portland-LA Clippers series as potential, given the Clippers reputation for disappointment and the Trail Blazers reputation for an inspired surprise. Other than that, each other series game offers point spread analysis only, but we already know who will be advancing toward Round Two.
And for anybody with seventh game tickets to the Golden State-Houston Rockets series are as likely to attend as a Beatles concert. You might want to end suspense in San Antonio as well. The closing odds at well-established offshore sportsbook Diamond Sports are Spurs -13500 to handle the Memphis Grizzlies at +4500. Even if you found 200-1 on Memphis at any recommended offshore sportsbook, it wouldn't be a smart bet. It's a shame they waste printing cost dollars on these and ask Warriors season ticket holders to spend thousands before getting an eventual refund. As for bettors, the risk is not worth the gain either way in Round One. Betting overwhelming favorites returns a paltry payout and chasing hopeless longshots is a wasted effort at any odds.
Game One's were a strong indication of the obvious trend. Despite Curry's shaky ankle, the Warriors cruised past the helpless Rockets 104-78, easily covering the -13 to -14 spread posted by sportsbook leaders Bovada, BetOnline and Heritage. An even easier time for the Oklahoma City Thunder, favored by -13 at most preferred offshore sportsbooks. From the opening tipoff, they dominated the Dallas Mavericks with a 38-point win, 108-70. Even the Miami Heat without Chris Bosh were in complete control over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday 123-91. Only had to give -5 at Diamond Sports to have that locked up midway through the fourth quarter.
No, it won't be easy covering every single game as a favorite for the high seeds but in these opening 7-game series it seems like a nap waiting for the next round or perhaps the round after that. In fact, it's quite possible Houston, Dallas or a Charlotte wins a game on their home floor. But overall, this just isn't exciting and a foregone conclusion waiting for the inventible in late June.
Here's to the Futures
I believe some good future potentials are still on the board at some of the most reliable and established online sportsbooks. With two months ahead of NBA playoff basketball, this is your last opportunity to look at what might be "an investment" for late June. *Take notice of that late June date. Impossibly, the NBA has spaced out The Finals this year over a record eighteen (18) days should it go a full seven games. Only the U.S. Presidential elections take longer to decide.
That said, there are only two possible potential winners to consider and you obviously know who they are. The Golden State Warriors and maybe with a slip or injury, the San Antonio Spurs could do it. It should be one memorable series when they hook up. But believe it or not, we have about six weeks of basketball to play before we get there.
The Warriors are currently listed at -150 to win the NBA Championship at Bovada. Relatively speaking, not a bad price and down from -175 from a week ago. Quite similar to betting Hillary Clinton while she was listed at Even money in February, NOW might be your Best Bet to make an investment at the best price possible on the record-setting Warriors.
Only the Spurs have any legitimate chance of dethroning Golden State. The sentimental and unknown question is how much legendary gas is left in the tank of Tim Duncan. A bit more faith Tony Parker can turn it on if necessary but the Spurs have the oldest yet talented top to bottom roster in the NBA. Their blow-out 106-74 win in Game One must have inspired the bettors. They opened as at +400 to win the title at Bovada but are now down to +333.
As for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a bad investment Lebron or not. No team that changes head coaches midway through the season can be given any trust or confidence. They are currently around 4-1 to 5-1 at most major offshore sportsbooks as a third choice only because they figure to be the Eastern Conference representative. Much like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz scenario odds against Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Presidential Finals.
Bottom line, invest in the Golden State Warriors immediately to win the 2016 NBA Championship. Shop around a list of top online sportsbooks to obtain the best possible price. Be patient. Two months is not really an unreasonable wait for a very confident investment to collect a nice profit.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.