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What I Learned – NBA Best Bets, Odds and Sharp Action from the Bubble

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The NBA bubble season gets into full action later this week when the eight-game seeding round begins. Using FanDuel Sportsbook for all odds, here is my NBA betting card ahead of the restart.Check out the SI NBA team’s power rankings heading into the restart from Orlando!Seeding Rounds Win TotalsPhoenix Suns Under 2.5 (-165)Phoenix showed flashes at times this season, but they are out of their league when it comes to the bubble. Coach Monty Williams has said he will use this as a learning experience for his young team. Phoenix is headed in the right direction led by Devin Booker, but they won’t win three games in the bubble.Odds via FanDuel SportsbookSacramento Kings Over 3.5 (+170)The Sacramento Kings were playing some of the best basketball in the league before the coronavirus pause. The Kings were 7-3 and had some very impressive victories. I don’t think they would have made the playoffs but they were making a legitimate push. Four games may seem like a lot of games for them to win, but at +170 odds I’m happy to shoot my shot. Those are much better odds than you will have at Magic City (I’ve only been for the wings). The Kings have Brooklyn and San Antonio on their schedule and those should make for two easy wins, I think they can find two more between their games vs the Pelicans, a meaningless matchup vs the Lakers as well as their contest vs Orlando.NBA Bubble Futures BetsTo Win the 8th seed in the Western Conference: Grizzlies -145The upstart Grizzlies are currently the 8th seed in the West and most people expected the Grizzlies to still be a few years away from the postseason. Rookie of the Year front-runner Ja Morant has helped change that narrative in Year 1. Morant led Memphis to a 32-33 record before the season came to a pause, giving them a three-game lead for the 8th and final spot. I can see the Grizzlies having to potential play and win a play-in series with either Portland or New Orleans before heading into the playoffs. Western Conference Champions: Los Angels Lakers +160I had to wrestle with this decision mainly because of how good Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angles Clippers have looked at times this season. Make no mistake, the West is a two-team race. I think the play of Anthony Davis coupled with the urgency of LeBron James, will push the Lakers to a victory in what should be a grueling seven game series. Lakers insider Melissa Rohlin brings us this quote from a LeBron James media session that illustrates just how locked in the Lakers superstar is heading into the bubble.“There was a lot of conversation about — LeBron can do those things in the East, but if he ever came to the West, what could he do? You know? So, I heard all of that. To be able to have our team at the top of the Western Conference and playing the way that we were playing at that time, and the way I was playing, it’s definitely a good feeling.” Eastern Conference Champion: Toronto Raptors +600Full disclosure, I think the Milwaukee Bucks are going to win the Eastern Conference. So why am I betting on the Raptors to win? At +600 (6/1) odds the Raptors only have to get to the Eastern Conference finals. Then, I will place a bet on the Bucks to win the East. My goal is to have the winning ticket no matter who it is. This strategy worked for me last season when I placed a futures bet on the Portland Trail Blazers to win the West at +4000 (40/1). When the Blazers made it to the Western Conference finals, I loaded up on Golden State. The hedge before the playoffs helped turn a serious profit, and that’s the name of the game, people! The Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers have the talent to ruin this plan, but I feel very good about the defending champs going into the bubble. To Win The NBA Finals: Milwaukee Bucks +240The NBA Finals will begin in October, and I fully expect the Milwaukee Bucks to represent the Eastern Conference. The Bucks were 53-12 when the season came to a pause and have consistently played the best basketball in the NBA this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is primed to win his second MVP award and his group should walk away with the title as the most complete team in the league. The Lakers and Clippers both present tough teams out of the West, but I think both of those teams will be spent after they play each other in what will be a high-intensity Western Conference finals. Milwaukee should be able to take advantage of an exhausted Western Conference winner and leave the bubble with the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Vegas Whispers & Beyond: NBA Futures MarketAccording to Patrick Eichner, Director of Communications at PointsBet Sportsbook, the top liabilities include the New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trail Blazers. “Obviously the liability on these teams is largely due to the longer odds on those teams,” says Eichner. “The Pelicans and Blazers have been particularly popular “flyer teams” in wake of NBA return, drawing steady interest from both the sharps and the public. In a strange season where anything can happen combined with well-liked superstars for fans to get behind, it is relatively easy to see why folks are throwing down a small flyer on the longer value shots and hoping for a solid return.”Overall, the Lakers (by a good margin), Clippers and Bucks find the biggest ticket support among bettors. “LeBron and the boys have been getting absolutely peppered since the NBA announced they were coming back and we re-posted Futures. They are by far the most popular pick to win it all among bettors,” says Eichner.Oddly enough, PointsBet will be rooting for the Clippers or Bucks due to the wagers they have received which would result in a win for the sportsbook. Word From Sin CityBehind the counter at CG Technologies, they will be rooting against several teams in their quest to win it all.“The Mavericks, Thunder and Suns and Raptors are clear losing outcomes for our book,” said CG oddsmaker Dave Sharapan. “The Lakers are double the next closest teams (Clippers and Bucks) in terms of ticket count.”In addition, one team has clearly emerged as the sharp or “wise-guy” choice to win it all. “Portland is easily the sharp bet and is getting the most attention since we have reopened. The teams virtually being ignored are the Nuggets, Rockets and Jazz.”In terms of Conference wagering, several teams are dominating ticket counts.“In the East, the Raptors continue to get both sharp and public money. The Celtics, 76ers, Heat, and especially the Pacers are being mostly ignored,” added Sharapan. “The Bucks winning the Championship is by far the best result for our book.”At the Westgate Superbook Las Vegas, they will be rooting for a different outcome.“We are a big loser to the Lakers and the Nuggets and in addition, we would lose to the Celtics being crowned 2020 Champions. The Rockets are basically a break-even result for us,” said John Murray, Director of Race and Sports.Brooklyn, who many bettors were playing the angle of a possible Kevin Durant return (myself included), created a liability for the Westgate Las Vegas but the oddsmakers are not too concerned now that it is known he will not be returning this season.“If the Nets win it all we will all be looking for another line of work. However, we are not too worried about it. Otherwise, we are in very good shape in our NBA futures pool.”

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