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Odds and Ends

Early Finals money showing on Miami in Vegas

by Sam Panayotovich
Updated On: September 29, 2020, 12:55 pm ET

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are sizable favorites to win the 2020 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat in the basketball bubble. 

Interestingly enough, the early money in Las Vegas showed up on the underdog.

“We opened Lakers -450/Heat +375, but we took all Heat money initially,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk management Jeff Sherman told NBC Sports. “When I got in this morning, the tickets were 17 on the Heat and 1 on the Lakers. We dropped it through the night as action came in. Finally, we're getting good two-way action at this -360/+300 price. It looks like a good two-way number at this point.”

I totally understand the initial market move and the stability at a -360/+300 split. Yet -360 still implies 78 percent probability, which feels a little high to me. I’m not going to pull the trigger either way, we already talked about how you should’ve thought about 6-to-1 on the Heat last week.

"When we did the number calculation, our number was Lakers -5.5 for Game 1," Sherman explained. "When you plug that into a seven game neutral series, our series price came out higher than what was in the market. You also have to factor in that a lot of the books in Vegas have liability on the Lakers. There was a lot of money in anticipation of Kawhi Leonard possibly signing there, so we were taking bets at very low odds. We even took 10 dimes on them at +175 last summer. There was a lot of pre-playoff Laker money that led to liability, which factored into a little bit higher of a series price."

I've been writing for weeks that the Lakers are a top-heavy basketball team that will run into trouble if the supporting cast can't knock down their open threes. In almost every loss this postseason, Los Angeles has flung nothing but bricks from downtown. On the flip side, LeBron and Anthony Davis are two of the best players on the planet and often times, they overcome poor shooting nights from their mates.

Erik Spoelstra is going to readily double team LeBron and AD and rely on that fundamentally strong Miami defense to rotate and recover. I happen to love the potential defensive matchups with Butler on LeBron and Bam Adebayo on Davis. It could make for a longer series than many pundits are predicting. 

"We always say this is a superstar-driven league and the Lakers are going to have the two best players on the court," Sherman explained. "You also saw what happened last series when LeBron didn't get any foul calls. The Lakers said something to the league and the next game he got the calls. That element is certainly real. You've got the two stars on one team against more of a team. Miami is a true team and they all fill their roles. It's going to be interesting. I think Miami is going to give them a test." 

So who does Sherman think is going to win the Finals?

"In the fourth quarter of that last game against Denver, LeBron looked so locked in. He basically took that game over by himself in every way he could. And now that they're into the final stretch of needing four wins, I have to imagine he's going to put the team on his shoulders. I think it's going to be a tough series, but ultimately LeBron will do what he needs to do to make sure his team gets there."

Sam Panayotovich

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst from the South Side of Chicago. He'll probably pick against your favorite team a lot. Follow him @spshoot