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Adjusted NBA Finals Odds Show Heat Are In Trouble

October 1, 2020


The first game of the 2020 NBA Finals was anything but competitive. The Los Angeles Lakers took an early punch from the Miami Heat before unleashing on them. But after an 18-point win by the Lakers to open the Finals, the betting lines for this series have shifted dramatically.

Are we really to believe that a series sweep is that much more likely after one game than we did before the start of the series?

Miami was completely outplayed by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first game of the NBA Finals. The Lakers grabbed 18 more rebounds than the Heat did in the series opener, made four more three-point shots, and outscored the Heat by 31 points after Miami took a 13-point first quarter lead. And, perhaps more importantly, they stayed healthy in a way that the Heat could not in game one.

Heat big man Bam Adebayo reaggravated a shoulder injury in the first game of the series, and is doubtful to play in game two. Point guard Goran Dragic suffered a foot injury, and is also doubtful for game two. Those losses could be more devastating than the blowout loss that the Heat suffered in game one. And, according to the updated series prices, all three have been deemed devastating by sportsbooks.

NBA betting odds say the Lakers are now at even money to sweep the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals. Before the start of the series, the Lakers to win in five games was deemed the most likely outcome by oddsmakers. And while one lopsided result wouldn’t normally prompt such a huge shift, a lopsided result combined with injuries could do just that.

Even before this series started, the Lakers were considered to be a deeper team than the Miami Heat. Being able to call upon veterans like Rajon Rondo and talented young players like Kyle Kuzma make the Lakers dangerous on the bench. Outside of the odd hot shooting game from Tyler Herro, meanwhile, the Heat bench isn’t full of players who can take over a game. But without Dragic and Adebayo, the Heat’s bench has to take on more minutes, with two players being forced into a starting role.

The Lakers started this series at around -300 odds to win the NBA Finals. After the news of Miami’s injuries, combined with the result of game one, they are now -1667 to win the series heading into game two. Perhaps the question should not be whether or not this kind of price adjustment is an overreaction, but whether the Lakers should have been bigger favorites from the start of the series.

Miami certainly earned their way to the NBA Finals, beating impressive competition in the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. But those teams were each flawed in a way that the Lakers’ roster is not. The Bucks lacked a star player who could score from the perimeter, as Giannis Antetokounmpo does not fit that bill. The Celtics lacked a star who could score in key situations at all. Los Angeles has both of those things and more, as they are one of the most balanced teams in the NBA and have two bona fide stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

It is certainly possible that the Miami Heat come back to make this series competitive. A couple of hot shooting performances from Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson could even things up in a hurry. But the adjustments made to the series prices in the 2020 NBA Finals after game one feel more like what the odds should have been from the beginning.

NBA Finals Betting FAQ

Can I bet on the Finals as they are happening?

Yes, adjusted series prices are constantly made available throughout the NBA Finals. The lines on who will win the Finals and in how many games are updated based on the results of the series to that point. These updated lines are made available up until the start of the next game in the series for bettors to make their NBA picks.

Where can I bet on the NBA Finals?

The NBA Finals can be wagered on at any legal US sportsbook. Of course, different states have different laws regarding sports gambling. Because of that, different states have different sportsbook options available for their players. It is up to bettors to look up what options they have available to them where they live.

Do teams ever come back in the NBA Finals?

Absolutely, there are plenty of examples of big comebacks in the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat came back from a 2-0 deficit in 2006 to beat the Dallas Mavericks. And the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from 3-1 down to defeat the Golden State Warriors in 2016. No NBA Finals series is over until the final buzzer sounds.

Jay Sanin
Jay Sanin is a sports writer and broadcaster from Albany, NY. He has covered sports betting and the gambling industry since 2013.