Kevin Durant has not logged a minute for the Brooklyn Nets, but he is having the biggest betting impact on the NBA’s restructured season.
With the coronavirus pandemic extending the season nearly three months, those in basketball circles are speculating whether that has allowed Durant sufficient time to recover from a torn Achilles tendon that he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Ahead of Thursday’s announcement that the league will resume on July 31, Caesars Sportsbook on Wednesday lowered Brooklyn’s championship odds from 750-1 to 60-1. The Nets are currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference but could return Durant and Kyrie Irving, who underwent arthroscopic right shoulder surgery in February.
“I would rather be cautious and deal 60-1 than get hurt when we hear news [of Durant and Irving returning],” Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis told ESPN. I don’t want to post 150-1 odds, and the problem is you take a bet of a couple thousand and it pays $300,000 and you’re stuck if [Durant is] good.”
Aside from the Nets, Davis did not significantly adjust the odds of any other team. The unique nature of the postseason occurring in Orlando, Florida, is uncharted territory, but the betting board looks familiar.
“Every single team is in the same situation. I don’t know what the schedule is going to look like, but it won’t be awkward travel of cities and time zones. Everyone is basically staying in the same area and has the same rules. I think a lot more outside factors are going be equal,” Davis said, acknowledging he may adjust his thought process as games unfold.
The Lakers (2-1) remain the championship favorites and pose the worst result for Caesars, which took an “insane” number of bets at operations across seven states following the team’s acquisition of Anthony Davis last summer. In this type of situation, sportsbooks often lower the Lakers’ odds and attract money on other teams to balance their liability, but Caesars’ Davis is opting to let the chips fall where they may.
“If I do [lower the Lakers’ odds] and make the Lakers +120, then I have to make everyone else such a better price. I am kind of at the point where we do so well to so many other teams that have a really good shot, I would rather just try to beat it than give all the others away at advantage prices,” Davis said, while sharing the house does very well if the LA Clippers (+325), Milwaukee Bucks (+275) or Philadelphia 76ers (25-1) win the title.
The driving approach to a futures book is a hold percentage. Davis said he currently has positioned his return at 19.8%, which is considered among the most fair in the marketplace. If a sportsbook opts for a higher percentage, then the odds offered on all teams would be less competitive.
Of the remaining teams invited to Orlando, the San Antonio Spurs (1,000-1), Washington Wizards (1,000-1) and Sacramento Kings (2,000-1) have the longest odds.
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