Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
The Matchup No One Saw Coming
Outside of a minute cross-section of diehard NBA fans in metropolitan Denver and Miami, there are very few who saw this NBA Finals matchup coming. On both sides of the bracket, this NBA Playoffs proved to be chock full of unpredictability and it will culminate with a champion that not many had forecasted in April. The Nugs and the White Hot Heat collide for the NBA Title and it’s our last chance as NBA fans for a winning bet on the board.
Sure – the Denver Nuggets were the top seed in the Western Conference, but they were all but an afterthought for most of the season. While we wasted months wondering when the Lakers or Warriors would return to their championship form of recent years, the Nuggets quietly rattled off win after win and the Joker’s absurd box scores rolled on. As for the Heat, they limped through a regular season without two of their top three scorers, so Himmy Buckets had to do superhuman things. Spoiler – they did. Unprecedented upsets against the Bucks and Knicks, capped with a topsy-turvy seven-game series win over the Celtics, and have our championship matchup set.
If Denver being priced as a -413 favorite to win the finals is any indicator, oddsmakers aren’t expecting much entertainment for the chip. Unless you’re in on the Heat pulling this off (+340) and want to catch lightning in a bottle, there’s practically zero value in betting Denver at this high a number. More realistically for Nuggets backers, you may want to look at betting on a series that’s 5.5 games or less – going off around even money odds. It’s a sound over/under bet without all the juice of the series price, and it gives you wiggle room in case the Heat get one early on in the series. Outside of that, you’ll want to look toward calling your shot as to how long the series goes.
Exact Outcome Odds
More specifically for niche bet degens, you can bet the exact series score in games of the NBA Finals where some nice paydays are available. The odds-on favorite for the series result is the Nuggets winning in five games, which sits at +225. From there the payouts are exacerbated as you work towards more extreme or improbable results. If you’re a Heat backer and feeling frisky, it’s hard not to look at Heat to win in six games (+800) or seven games (+900). You know that the Heat will be winning a hard-fought, grind-it-out type of series if they manage to climb the mountain, so might as well hedge on it being dramatic. If you’re looking to get silly with the biggest bomb on the board, a Heat sweep is going off around 55 to 1 odds.
Finals MVP Odds
As for who lifts the other smaller trophy when it’s all said and done, this is where you can hit a jackpot type of win. Naturally, Nikola Jokic (-417) and Jimmy Butler (+315) are the odds-on favorites to take home the Finals MVP and there’s not a ton of value on either side there. Looking beyond the brand names and finding one of those special supporting cast members that lift their team over the top is where the biggest payday will emerge. The only direction Nuggets backers can look to is Jamal Murray at +1115, but I’m not seeing Murray surpass whatever amazing stats the Joker puts up on their way to a title. I’m really licking my chops if the Heat were to do the thinkable and win the series because it would HAVE to be done with more than just Jimmy Butler. It would take a Kyrie Irving or Andre Iguodala-like Finals MVP performance from a player that hit big shots and made game-changing plays in the biggest moments. The two flyers that are worth a look are Bam Adebayo (+4500) and Caleb Martin (+6000), who both showed in the Eastern Conference finals that they can lead the Heat offensively in winning performances.
Goofy Finals Props
If you’re just here for a good time, there are some delightfully random places to have action on the finals as well. The first technical foul is always a firestarter in a championship series, and the Nuggets (-137) are favored to have the first implosion on a ref over the Heat (+113), but I’m siding with a Heat player to get their energy up first. If you’re obsessed with the stars, you can keep score on total series points between Jokie (-150) and Jimmy Butler (+200) and see who has more when the series is all said and done.
Alex’s NBA Finals Plays
Series Total Games – Under 5.5 (+108)
Nuggets WIN in 5 games (+225)
Heat WIN in 7 games (+900)
Finals MVP: Bam Adebayo +4500, Caleb Martin +6000
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