How a revamped NBA season would impact the betting market

Pacers T.J. McConnell vs Heat, Jan. 9, 2020 (AP Photo AJ Mast)
Pacers' T.J. McConnell (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
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The NBA is “determined” to crown a champion this season, a source told the New York Post, but the to-be-determined format for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs will have a profound impact on the betting market.

Futures odds are still posted at sportsbooks around the country and remain mostly unchanged since commissioner Adam Silver decided to postpone the season on March 11 due to the spread of the Coronavirus. Futures bettors should be mindful, however, that the postseason tournament is likely to look much different than the traditional format.

The Post’s Marc Berman reports the entirety of the playoffs could be held at one venue, sans fans. While 16 teams would qualify, the playoffs “could be reduced to a slew of best-of-three series across the board.”

Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk management at the Westgate SuperBook, tweeted mock odds for the eight playoff series based on the current standings. These series are not available for wagering and were priced based on traditional playoff conventions – seven-game series, the higher seeded team having home-court advantage, and spectators being allowed in the arenas.

“Will have to adapt to changes when they are announced, thought we would give something for people to ponder at least,” Sherman wrote on Twitter.

Translation: Expect a tightening of these lines, since a shorter series on a neutral court mitigates some of the favorite’s edge. The Pacers, for example, figure to be shorter than +180 should they meet Miami in a three-game series at UNLV (one of the potential venues floated). Also, the sixth-seeded 76ers would be favored over No. 3 Boston, as oddsmakers price that series a pick ‘em based on the traditional format.

As for the regular season, completing the 82-game schedule appears impossible at this point. But even if no more games are played, several teams’ win totals have been decided. Based on closing numbers at the Westgate, the Thunder, Grizzlies and Hornets have already gone OVER their win totals, while the Trail Blazers, Pistons and Warriors would stay UNDER even if they were to win the remainder of their 82 games.

While New Jersey gaming regulators issued guidance to operators saying bets that are mathematically official should be graded, rules stipulating “82 games must be played for action” remain in effect at the Westgate and South Point, bookmakers at those shops tell BetIndiana News. Likewise, win total bets at U.S. Bookmaking’s locales in New Mexico will all be refunded, Robert Walker said in a text message. Caesars will adhere to the guidelines in New Jersey, but win total bets in all other states will be refunded. Bookmakers at Circa Sports have yet to discuss a plan for how these wagers will be handled, sportsbook director Matt Metcalf said in direct message.

Here’s a snapshot of the NBA betting market as the league navigates its way out of the hiatus, per current futures odds and closing win totals at the Westgate. “Max wins” are based on an 82-game season.

TeamOddsWLmax winswin total
LAL2/149146850
LAC+27544206252.5
MIL3/153127057.5
TOR20/146186446.5
BOS20/143216149.5
HOU20/140245854.5
DEN30/143226053.5
PHI30/139265655
UTA40/141235953.5
DAL40/140275542.5
BKL50/130344842.5
MIA60/141245844.5
NOP80/128364636
IND100/139265646.5
OKC100/140245833
POR100/129374546
MEM500/132334927.5
SAS2,000/127364645.5
ORL2,000/130354743
SAC2,000/128364638.5
WAS10,000/124404226.5
PHXOFF26394330
CLTOFF23424022.5
CHIOFF22433934.5
NYKOFF21453727.5
DETOFF20463638
ATLOFF20473534
CLEOFF19463623.5
MINOFF19453736
GSWOFF15503246.5

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