Married to the Market - NBA Futures Betting and Strategy
The playoff picture is coming into focus with about three weeks left in the regular season. Going to try to predict some seeds and find some value.
Each section might not yield a bet every week, but ideally there’s actionable info in there to help readers gauge the market.
Memphis as the No. 2 Seed
This section will be a stagnant market due for a shake-up or a situation we’re tired of seeing.
The Kings have made a run at the second spot in the West, but even without Ja Morant, the Grizzlies have held them off. Keeping the No. 2 seed is crucial for Memphis as they’re a league-best 28-5 at home.
The Grizzlies have the second-easiest remaining schedule according to Tankathon. Maintaining the No. 2 seed would mean a mediocre play-in team in the first round and then home court advantage vs. Sacramento (?) in the second round.
Reaction – Plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Grizzlies but their path to the conference finals is actually decent. +1000 to win the West on Caesars, behind the Warriors and Clippers.
The No. 2 Seed in the East
This section will highlight risers/fallers. Could be a team, player, entire market, etc.
Speaking of valuable No. 2 seeds, Philadelphia and Boston both have plenty of incentive to stay out of 3rd place. The Celtics have been passed by the Bucks for the top spot and are in danger of falling behind the Sixers after an egregious loss to the Rockets on Monday.
The Nets were shaping up to be a dream first-round matchup after the Kevin Durant trade, but they’ve been a problem in March. Brooklyn has won 5-of-7, including road wins over Boston, Denver and Minnesota.
Brooklyn certainly feels more imposing than whoever emerges from the play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed. And if they somehow move ahead of the Knicks and New York is the No. 6 seed? Hoo boy.
Reaction – Staying out of the 3/6 matchup will be important in the East. The No. 2 seed will have a much easier first round matchup plus home court advantage in the second round, yet the conference title odds for Boston and Philly aren’t close (+160 vs. +650 on FanDuel). Feels like great value on the Sixers.
The Lakers’ Defensive Efficiency
This section will be an interesting/unique/fun futures-related stat or trend.
The Lakers added D’Angelo Russell and got … better on defense?
Obviously a lot has changed about this roster since the trade deadline and the results are startling. LA was 20th in defensive rating through Feb. 9. They’re 2nd from that date forward. It’s only 13 games, but still.
The Lakers remain stuck in the clump of play-in candidates out West, but no one has an easier remaining schedule (shoutout Tankathon again).
Reaction – 9-4 since the trade deadline including wins over fellow play-in contenders New Orleans (twice), Dallas, OKC and Golden State (twice). -144 is too light.
Boston as the Favorite in the East
This section will be a market that’s uncertain, mispriced or just generally one to avoid.
Only FanDuel has the Bucks as the favorite to win the East. DraftKings has them even with Boston at +155.
These teams are going in opposite directions. After rattling off nine-straight wins in January, Boston has gone just 8-10 and been overtaken by Milwaukee for the No. 1 seed. Conversely, the Bucks have only lost seven (!!) times in 2023.
Reaction – As mentioned above, the No. 2 seed vs. the No. 3 seed is important. But so is the No. 1 seed vs. the No. 2 seed. If the Bucks maintain the top spot, Boston will have to get past Philly to even reach the conference finals. These prices are off.
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