With their championship series either underway or about to begin, the NBA and NHL seasons will soon be coming to an end for hardwood and puck bettors.
With both the NBA and NHL now in its championship series, let’s take a look back at what has transpired in those respective playoffs and how it has played out on Bodog’s NBA Final odds and NHL Stanley Cup odds.
The Philadelphia Flyers are certainly one of the more unlikely Stanley Cup finalists in recent memory, as the Flyers needed a shootout victory on the final day of the regular season just to get in the playoffs. Then despite injuries to key players like Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, the Flyers were able to upset the New Jersey Devils and then stage a historic rally from down three games to none – and even a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 – and beat the Boston Bruins in the conference semifinals.
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Montreal was really no match in the Eastern Finals as the seventh-seeded Flyers had the most unlikely home-ice advantage in NHL conference finals history against the eighth-seeded Habs.
Most aren’t giving Philly a great chance against the powerful Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, and Game 1 didn’t go too well as the Flyers lost 6-5 – tying as the highest-scoring Game 1 of the Cup finals ever. Five goals is clearly a magic number for Philadelphia, as it is now 0-4 this postseason when giving up five or more goals heading into Monday’s Game 2.
Going into the finals the Flyers were +220 to win the series against Chicago, which had the third-most points in the NHL this season and crushed the West top-seeded Sharks in the West Finals. However, heavy betting on the Flyers moved the line to +210 by the time the puck dropped for Game 1. Bettors have been on the bandwagon of this team the whole way through – the Flyers were considered a Cup contender before the season began but underachieved much of the year.
In fact, the book will definitely take a loss if Philly does hoist the Cup. Many players rolled over their winnings from the Flyers winning the Eastern Conference and put it on them to win it all. Despite being the heavy favorites, the Blackhawks are not seeing too much action. The book needed Chicago to win Game 1 on the moneyline to come out ahead.
The NBA playoffs, meanwhile, almost always differ from the NHL’s in that big series upsets are very rare in the Association. And this year’s postseason has gone mostly chalk – not even Boston knocking out LeBron and the Cavaliers can be considered that big of an upset. By the way, that Cavs loss dramatically affected our odds on where LeBron will play next year. The Chicago Bulls’ and New York Knicks’ odds got significantly shorter than they were before the Celtics series.
We do expect plenty of action on the NBA Finals with the two most storied franchises in the league facing off in the Celtics and Lakers – the record 12th time they have met in the Finals and second time in three years. They have 32 NBA championships between them. We have opened Los Angeles as the -180 series favorite, and early betting has leaned toward Boston (currently +160). The Lakers winning in six or seven games is currently our 3/1 favorite for exact series result, with the 'over/under' of games at 5½ ('over' a big -200 favorite).
Just remember that Phil Jackson-coached teams are the safest bet in sports when they win the first game of a best-of-seven series: Jackson’s teams are 47-0 when they take the opener, so Thursday’s Game 1 could start a significant betting shift if the Lakers win. Boston was the betting favorite in 2008 against the Lakers and won that series in six games – it was our best NBA Finals handle in years. The Celtics had home-court advantage back then and did win Game 1 (obviously).
Also unlike in the NHL, NBA bettors aren’t overly attached to a team for a series but more of a game-to-game basis – i.e. the bandwagon seems to literally shift from game to game. Thus players didn’t lose too much on the Magic and Cavaliers, for example, as they were pretty quick to jump to Boston’s side.
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