Congratulations to the Milwaukee Bucks. When Washington lost to Chicago on Sunday the Bucks officially clinched a playoff spot after playing just 56 games this season.
Since expanding the playoffs to the current 16-team format in 1984 Golden State needed just 57 games to secure a postseason berth in 2016-17. The Warriors went on to win their second of three NBA titles that decade.
Last week, I brought up the concept of context, discussing it specifically in reference to NBA overtime game and how tracking Over/Under results as they stand at the end of regulation play vs. the usual way in which they are reported can often give significantly different perceptions.
Of course, it’s the result when the game goes final — overtime or not — that determines the result of your bet. I’ll have more on the context concept in future weeks but let’s take a brief look at another concept related to betting Totals.
For more than 25 years, I’ve advocated for “overtime insurance” whereby your wager on football games and basketball games is determined by the score at the end of regulation rather than at the end of overtime for games that go beyond regulation play.
Back in those days the technology did not exist to handle such wagers but times have changed.
Sportsbooks now have the capability to offer bettors the option of laying extra ‘vig’ to purchase such insurance. Perhaps by laying 6-5 (-120) instead of the traditional 11-10 (-110) those who bet on either on an underdog or on the Under can have their bet determined at the end of regulation for a game that goes into overtime.
The data exists to calculate what a reasonable extra vig should be for a universal application of that vig or a sliding scale based on the size of the underdog or level of the Total. That is, books might decide that you can lay -115 instead of -110 for underdogs of three points or less while requiring you to lay -125 for underdogs of 10 points or more.
Likewise a -115 line might apply for NBA Totals above 230 but -120 for Totals of 200 or below.
Such technology now currently allows an increasing number of books to offer similar type wagering in hockey and soccer such as options related to three-way results for Team A, Team B or a tie after regulation play.
And, in effect, Teasers in both basketball and football also allow for adjusted point spreads so the programming involved in offering overtime insurance is already in place albeit in a form that would need some tweaking.
Finals prop bet
As long as I’m on the topic of creative offerings that could be implemented how about a sportsbook offering a proposition bet involving the NBA Finals?
The prop would involve the winner of the NBA Title being from either the trio of Milwaukee, the Clippers or the Lakers vs. the field of the other 27 teams. My belief is that such a prop would be competitively priced and would draw significant action in addition to great publicity.
Return of Steph
Golden State is expected to see Steph Curry make his return on Sunday against Washington. He suffered a broken hand in the fourth game of the season and his absence, combined with that of Klay Thompson (now officially ruled out for the season) and the departure of Kevin Durant through free agency has contributed to Golden State’s NBA worst 12-45 record after five straight trips to the NBA Finals.
More on how to approach the Warriors next week. Here are thoughts on three attractive weekend games.
Thunder at Bucks: Both teams have been playing excellent ball since before the All-Star break. Over the last 15 games Milwaukee is 13-2 SU, 9-6 ATS while Oklahoma City has gone 12-3 SU, 11-4 ATS.
In early November Milwaukee, a 9-point road favorite, barely defeated the Thunder 121-119. The Bucks are rested after last playing on Tuesday while OKC is off Thursday night’s home game against Sacramento.
The Thunder have been crushing the point spread all season, standing an NBA-best 38-19 ATS including 22-8 as an underdog with a current run of 14-3 ATS in that role since early December. They’ve lost by double digits just once in their last 18 games and that was by exactly 10 points. THUNDER
Rockets at Celtics: Just prior to the All-Star break Houston defeated Boston 116-105 as a short 2.5-point home favorite. The Rockets were active at the trade deadline, becoming more of a “small ball” team while still relying on James Harden. The former MVP struggled with his accuracy throughout January as the Rockets endured a 4-7 slump. They’ve now won 8 of 10.
Since losing three straight in mid-January the Celtics have gone 12-3 (11-4 ATS) and continue to have success against elite teams. Both teams are seeking to protect or improve a top-four playoff seeding suggesting this game should see above average intensity.
Both teams have key players currently listed day-to-day with Boston’s Kemba Walker and Houston’s Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook. This could lead to a lower than expected scoring game. That first meeting stayed under the total by 11.5 points. UNDER
76ers at Clippers: Philadelphia begins a four-game West Coast trip and the 76ers have been a totally different team on the road than at home.
Despite having the NBA’s best home record (25-2) Philly is a woeful 9-20 on the road (currently on a 1-11 ATS run). Only six teams have won fewer games away from home.
The Clippers are battling for the second Western seed, currently trailing Denver by just one game. They have the best home record in the West, 23-6.
The 76ers won their only prior meeting this season, 110-103 on February 11, as 1-point home chalk. Considered the main challengers to the Lakers in the West, the Clippers have gotten the hoped for production from their top offseason additions, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The duo has combined to average 48.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.
There will be a line adjustment for Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons who re-aggravated a back injury over the weekend that is expected to have him miss this road trip. CLIPPERS
Last week: 1-2