NJ & PA Sportsbooks Are Gearing Up for Return of the NBA
If you can believe it, the 75th NBA regular season is scheduled to tip off in less than two weeks with two games as the Golden State Warriors visit the Brooklyn Nets and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers host city and in-arena rival the Los Angeles Clippers.
With the holiday season upon us, the nation still fighting the coronavirus pandemic and the NFL entering the final weeks of its regular season, how are the New Jersey and Pennsylvania sportsbooks handling the beginning of the NBA betting season on Dec 22?
“I’m hopeful that the NBA will be able to make it through the season and it will be nice to have an everyday professional sport return," said Thomas Gable, director of Race and Sportsbook at The Borgata in Atlantic City. "We currently have the two opening games scheduled for Dec. 22 up and available for wagering. The Nets are currently 5½-point favorites against the Warriors and the Clippers are 2½-point underdogs to the Lakers. While it’s been fun to have the NFL on Tuesdays occasionally and even a Wednesday, it plays havoc with the league’s overall schedule.
”College basketball has been tough with the cancellations, which we knew would be the case going in.”
PointsBet, which lists the Nets, Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks and 76ers with the most bets thus far to win the NBA title, likes another season starting.
“The NBA will not entirely take the baton from the NFL in betting handle, but it certainly will do numbers on a nightly basis as per usual. That said, NFL will remain our top performer,” said Michael Korn, sports analyst at PointsBet. “In past years, we’ve seen that upon the NBA’s return, it does not take any action away from the NFL, but instead complements the activity by giving bettors the opportunity to play more frequently.”
NBA games currently on PointsBet include the two opening night games plus the full five-game Christmas schedule.
Nets Creating Some Buzz
Tipico, new to the New Jersey market, was seeing the Brooklyn Nets as “a trendy pick with rumors that (James) Harden would be traded to Brooklyn, but that’s cooled off considerably,” according to Brandon Friedman, U.S. regional sportsbook manager for Tipico. Kevin Durant will also return to the Nets after missing last season with an Achilles' injury.
"The NBA tends to have a slower betting start, but with the season tipping off right around Christmas, we expect the national attention to drive some nice live betting volume to complement our current football and NCAA hoops action,” Friedman said. “As far as early numbers, thanks to Zion (Williamson) we’re seeing the love for New Orleans pick right back up where it left off, and with AD (Anthony Davis) back in the fold the Lakers are seeing a lot of repeat interest. The Suns are a popular early longshot based on their performance in the bubble, and the addition of veteran ball handler CP3 (Chris Paul)."
BetMGM’s top five percentages for the NBA Championship include: Lakers (+275): 22%; Nuggets (+1800): 11%; 76ers (+2500): 10%; Warriors (+2500): 8% and Mavericks (+2500): 5%. Its top three NBA MVP selections: Joel Embiid (+4000): 14%; Kevin Durant (+2000): 13% and LeBron James (+800): 11%.
Interesting MVP Bet
One New Jersey customer on FanDuel placed this interesting bet for the season: $500 on Karl-Anthony Towns to win regular season MVP at +12000.
Rush Street Interactive’s SugarHouse and BetRivers.com Eastern Conference leaders feature: 76ers +900 (39.5% handle, 36.1% of bets); Nets +275 (34.62%, 22.93%); Celtics +550 (5.51%, 7.32%)
Here is the betting volume for the two games on opening night for PlaySugarhouse.com and BetRivers.com: The Nets (-215 ML) are backed by 82% of the moneyline bets against the Warriors (+170 ML). Nets -5 backed by 92% of spread bets; the Lakers (-143 ML) are backed by 80% of the ML bets against the Clippers (+118 ML) with the Lakers -2.5 backed by 71% of spread bets.
Preseason games begin on Friday with five games scheduled.
“As the newest book in town, we’re encouraged by the quick ramp up in betting volume and the positive reaction from players in New Jersey to the app, and to our customer service approach,” said Keith Gormley, head of U.S. marketing for Tipico. “With NBA tipping off and the NFL playoffs just around the corner, we’re excited to bring some aggressive new offers and new app features to the market.”