How Upsets Of Lakers & Bucks Impact Odds & Betting Strategy
Mark Strotman | 4 mins
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Everyone knew the unique circumstances of the NBA’s bubble in Orlando may even the playing field – no fans, no travel, no homecourt advantage – but Tuesday’s results were stunning. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers — respective No. 1 seeds in their conferences — suffered Game 1 losses, the first time top seeds have lost their playoff openers since 2003.
But is it time to panic if you backed them? Are the Bucks and Lakers, favorites in their own conferences the entire regular season, doomed? Or is this a great NBA betting opportunity? Let’s take a closer look.
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Lakers Odds Slump, Still Provide Value
The Lakers offense went ice-cold in Tuesday’s loss, managing just 93 points against a Blazers defense that was allowing 123.3 points in the bubble. Oddsmakers didn’t like what they saw from LeBron James’ supporting cast, plummeting their NBA title odds from a league-leading +250 to +400 overnight. The Blazers are not your normal 8 seed, and the Lakers haven’t looked like a 1 seed since the season restarted.
But let’s not panic over one game. The Lakers won’t shoot 5 of 32 from beyond the arc again — though their shooting in the bubble has been average — and let’s not forget they held the Blazers offense to 100 points after Portland had averaged 126 points in their first nine bubble games.
LA’s defense is elite, and they should play with more urgency now that their backs are against the wall. James is 13-0 all-time in Round 1 series. He knows how to navigate a series and can change his game to give his team what it needs. After handing out 16 assists and tallying only 23 points, expect a more aggressive score-first mentality from the game’s best player.
They need to play better, but the Lakers still provide value to win the series at -225 with DraftKings. It’s hard to see a team that was on pace to win 60 games bowing out in Round 1, even against a red-hot Blazers team.
As long as James and Anthony Davis are standing, the Lakers are still title contenders (+400) in the West. Remember: Last year’s Raptors lost their postseason opener to a much worse Orlando Magic team. Toronto won its next four games, then beat the 76ers, Bucks and Warriors on the way to a title. Teams are allowed one bad game, so if you haven’t bet them yet at DraftKings, you’ll get even better odds now.
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Blazers Title Odds Continue To Shorten
It’s remarkable to think that the Blazers were afterthoughts entering Orlando just a few weeks ago. All the talk surrounding the 8 seed was Zion’s Pelicans and Ja Morant’s Grizzlies. In fact, Portland was +15000 to win the title in NBA playoff odds when the restart began.
After their Game 1 win over the Lakers, they’re now +175 to win the Lakers series and +2800 to win the NBA Finals. This is a team that’s better than the one that went to the Western Conference Finals a year ago. It’s still a tall order for them to get past LeBron James, but they’re worth a look as their odds continue to shrink. If they can topple the Lakers, they can beat anyone.
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Bucks Odds Barely Budge After Upset
The Magic offense has been outstanding in the bubble, and they’ll likely get Aaron Gordon back for Game 2. But don’t expect an upset in the East. Milwaukee has issues to fix — its offensive efficiency was 14th of 22 teams in the bubble — but they’ll fix them in due time against a Magic team that can’t keep up their Game 1 shooting.
Oddsmakers aren’t concerned, according to the latest NBA odds. The Bucks are still +260 favorites — even with the Clippers — to win the title, and still a whopping -10000 to win the series despite trailing 1-0. Milwaukee’s odds will only shrink as it gets back on track — and the Bucks are too good not to — so jump on them now if you haven’t already. Milwaukee has been the best team in basketball all season long.