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With the NBA playoffs underway, there's plenty of futures and series odds offered at sportsbooks. It can be difficult to figure out which markets are profitable, but looking at sportsbook data can help provide a picture of where the public is betting and what sportsbooks are rooting for. I spoke to PointsBet Sportsbook analyst Michael Korn prior to Tuesday night's games to find the most interesting betting note on each series.
Suns vs. Pelicans
This series features some of the most one-sided action of any playoff series, with 78% of bets and 96% of the handle coming in on Phoenix despite being heavily favored in the series. Prior to Game 2, Korn noted that more than 95% of bets on the series correct score market expected the Suns to sweep, so the book will be rooting heavily for the Pelicans to win one game. New Orleans winning Game 2 wiped a massive liability off the board for PointsBet since there wasn't a single bet on any score other than Suns 4-0 and Suns 4-1.
Grizzlies vs. Timberwolves
This is another series where the biggest liability for series correct score was 4-0 in favor of the higher seeded Grizzlies, and a Game 1 win for the Timberwolves was a positive result for PointsBet. According to Korn, the opening game loss didn't deter bettors from doubling down on Memphis before Game 2. "It's still all Grizzlies money," Korn said. "60% of bets and 83% of the handle is on the Grizz."
Mavericks vs. Jazz
This matchup already experienced a ton of movement in the series price through two games. The Jazz were -300 favorites entering Game 1 and rose as high as -715 with Dallas at +500 on Sunday. Game 2 was a Mavericks win, which dropped the favorites to -275. Getting the Mavericks at +500 would have been great value, but it seems like bettors still think Dallas could win this series, with the two most-popular exact score bets as Mavs in seven and Mavs in six.
Warriors vs. Nuggets
The two favorites for the total games market were six and seven entering the series, but those markets now have the longest odds on the board with the series expected to be five games or less. The most interesting thing about this series is how it impacts the Finals MVP market. Steph Curry came off the bench for the first two games but should be at full strength well before the Finals begin, if the Warriors make it there.
For some reason, Curry is only fourth on his own team in Finals MVP bets. While I expected a decent amount of longshot bets on Klay Thompson from people buying into the comeback narrative, Draymond Green and Jordan Poole each outpaced the league's all-time leading shooter in that market. I think bettors are over-adjusting based on Curry's drop in career numbers between the regular season and postseason. Even if he can't reach the heights he did in his MVP seasons, Steph is by far the most likely Warrior to win this award if the team goes on a Finals run. I've been a fan of Jordan Poole's game all season and was disappointed to see my preseason Most Improved Player ticket on Poole lose this week as he showcased his improvement under the bright lights of the postseason, but all his value in the Finals MVP market was sapped up when Poole's odds dropped from +50,000 to +5,000.
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Heat vs. Hawks
In the Eastern Conference, bettors are more confident in some of the underdogs. The Hawks received 48% of bets in Atlanta's series against the Heat, although 95% of the money still came in on the favorites. "The Heat are the sharp side, but the public is taking a shot on the Hawks despite being underdogs that aren't given a real chance by the odds," Korn said.
Celtics vs. Nets
The Nets are unsurprisingly the most-backed underdog of any series so far, with 73% of bets and 66% of the money going to Brooklyn in the series price market. "Considering they came into the series as underdogs, the fact that the handle is still heavily on their side means the public is thinking the Nets will win," Korn said.
An interesting series prop offered at PointsBet Sportsbook is the odds to lead the series in points. Kevin Durant opened as the odds-on favorite with -125 odds and moved to +140 after Kyrie Irving's performance in Game 1. Durant still managed 23 points but shot just 37.5% from the field in Game 1, which ranks as one of his five-worst shooting performances of the season. Bettors expecting regression can now get Durant at plus money to lead the series in points, and no player took more bets in this market at PointsBet than Durant.
Bucks vs. Bulls
Outside of the Suns vs. Pelicans series, the biggest liability for the correct score market is on the Bucks vs. Bulls series. Bettors expect the Bucks to sweep Chicago with more than 75% of the bets being placed on a Milwaukee 4-0 result. The second-most popular result was Bucks in five, which received less than half as many bets as a sweep at PointsBet Sportsbook.
The Bulls actually have more bets to win the East than the Bucks, and lead all teams in that category. Korn noted that the opening of PointsBet Sportsbook in Illinois could have played a role in that number, as well as the long odds still offered on Chicago early this season while the Bulls spent time as the top seed in the East.
Milwaukee is outside the top-five teams in the conference in terms of bet count and handle to win the East, but Bucks vs. Suns is by far the most popular championship matchup at PointsBet Sportsbook.
Sixers vs. Raptors
This series appears to be going in favor of the Sixers as Philly jumped out to a 2-0 series lead at home. That would be a disappointing result for the 61% of bettors that took the Raptors to win the series, especially considering that number was likely higher entering the series. Even so, Korn cautioned against giving up on Toronto's chances to make a comeback in this series.
"People get so caught up in reacting to what just happened, if the Raptors win Game 3 the series price could drop back below +400 or even lower," Korn said. "The Sixers did what they were supposed to do and won at home, but if you liked Toronto heading into Game 1, don't be shy to take them now at +1000."