Betting markets like the Celtics
Plus, choosing between Luka and Steph
BY JEFF FOGLE
Before the season began, the only Eastern Conference teams given a “serious” chance to win the NBA title were the Nets (+225) and the Bucks (+850). Markets respect the impact superstar talent has on winning championships. Either Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would position the Nets for a summer parade, or Giannis Antetokounmpo would lead the champion Bucks to a possible repeat.
This week’s Eastern Conference Finals instead features two initial dark horses who have thrived on balanced, fundamental play. The Heat (22-1) and the Celtics (40-1) have shown again that chemistry, coaching, and defensive effort should carry more weight in championship pricing.
The Celtics and the Heat were very similar during the regular season. Note these rankings from Dunks and Threes:
Pace: Celtics 24th, Heat 28th
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: Celtics 1st, Heat 4th
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: Celtics 10th, Heat 12th
Virtual clones in style and emphasis. If you’re not into analytics, “efficiency” adjusts for pace. It’s points scored or allowed per possession. Neither the Celtics nor the Heat create illusions of great defense by holding on to the ball deep into their own offensive shot clocks—they end possessions more effectively than opponents.
Both teams were also big moneymakers for backers. Markets underestimated the Heat and the Celtics even as success was obvious.
2021-22 Regular Season Point-Spread Records
Playoff Point-Spread Records
Heat: 7-4 vs. the Hawks and the Sixers
Celtics: 8-3 vs. the Nets and the Bucks
That’s counting Boston +2.5 in Game 3 at Milwaukee as a win. Some backers may have pushed at +2 in the Celtics’ 103-101 loss. Add ’em up … and BOTH are 53-39-1 vs. the market—an impressive 57.6-percent rate.
Despite those similarities over a multi-month sample, markets see the Celtics as the more dominant team “right now” based on current betting lines.