Betting Markets on Celtics vs. Bucks
The champions are underdogs
BY JEFF FOGLE
It's amazing how much perceptions of these teams have changed since preseason. Markets provide a few clear examples:
Regular season win totals
The Bucks entered the 2021-22 campaign with a bettable Over/Under of 54.5 victories. That was second in the Eastern Conference and the NBA to the Nets’ 56.5. The Celtics were several wins lower at 46.5, roughly equivalent to the Hawks depending on the individual sportsbook.
Both Milwaukee and Boston finished 51-31. Over for the Celtics. Under for the Bucks. They’re now seen as relative equals at full strength rather than different classes of contender.
Point Spread Results
Full-season point spread performance has helped clarify team quality.
Markets underestimated the Celtics through the full regular season (45-36-1 against the spread), and then again in a first round sweep of the Nets (3-1 against the spread). That composite 48-37-1 against the spread record is a profitable 56.7 percent success rate. Bettors pay an 11/10 (10 percent) vigorish on losses, which means the equivalent record is 48 wins, 40.7 losses for a profit of 7.3 wins.
The Bucks were slightly overrated on a game-by-game basis, finishing 39-43 against the spread. They did earn a playoff profit covering three of five vs. the Bulls in the first round. A composite 42-45 record equates to 42 wins and 49.5 losses with the vigorish.
(You can see the cost of the vig really adds up in high volume betting. Celtics backers could only turn a record 11 games over .500 into 7.3 units of profit. Bucks backers saw a mark three games under .500 plummet to the equivalent of 7.5 losses. Sports betting is “a hard way to make an easy living!”)
The Bucks were +850 to win the NBA title before the season began (or 8.5 to 1 if you prefer horse racing style). That represented a percentage equivalent of 10.5 percent in the inflated universe of sportsbooks. The Celtics were +4000 (40/1), just 2.4 percent.
“Championship material” now better describes the Celtics.