The NBA regular season officially got underway on Christmas Day, but the majority of offshores have either left up or updated their over/under season win totals to allow bettors an opportunity to place a few more last-minute wagers.
With that in mind, here are BTB’s three “best bets.”
Note: In case you missed it, The Detroit Pistons over 21.5 was previously listed as BTB’s No. 1 bet.
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LOS ANGELES LAKERS | Over 38.5
In a column on ESPN.com, Dave McMenamin asked the following question: “[Have] the Lakers transformed themselves from an underachieving favorite into an overachieving underdog?”
It’s an interesting question, especially if you analyze the public perception of this team over the last few weeks. Believe it or not, Sportsbook.com opened the Lakers’ over/under win total at 48. That means it has dropped nearly 10 games in less than three weeks since the totals were first released in early December.
The nixed Chris Paul trade, combined with Lamar Odom’s departure, Kobe Bryant’s divorce (and ensuing wrist injury), not to mention the Lakers’ horrible preseason outings, have given the doubters plenty to feast on. But assuming Bryant can stay healthy, the value at 38.5 is too good to pass up.
After Sunday’s 88-87 season-opening loss against the Bulls, Bryant said he was pleased, which is something you almost never hear him say. That’s because it’s apparent to Bryant that he is surrounded by an adequate supporting cast, one that has a pair of elite big men (Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum), a pair of strong outside shooters (Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono) and a core of promising young players that will only improve as the season progresses (Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Josh McRoberts).
The doom-and-gloom predictions for the Lakers are premature.
Projected record: 43-23.
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MIAMI HEAT | Over 51.5
The Miami Heat will be favored at home by seven or more points against every team they play outside of the Chicago Bulls, the Oklahoma City Thunder and maybe the Los Angeles Lakers. Even that’s doubtful, because the Heat are capable of defeating every team in the league by 20 or more if they play the way they did against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Yes, it was only one game. That’s what I keep hearing. But man, what a game it was.
From Dan Wolken’s column in this morning’s The Daily:
This felt more like a breakthrough than a mirage. This felt like the most talented team in the NBA truly getting it, doing things that last season it simply could not do. This was James, who scored 37 points with 10 rebounds, posting up and attacking the rim and putting pressure on the Mavericks at every turn. This was a team committed to dominating the backboard — the rebounding total was 51-31 — and sprinting the other way. This was a ridiculously efficient, vicious and fast version of the Heat that will be difficult to touch.
The roster is loaded and deeper than it was a year ago, especially with a healthy Udonis Haslem and a pair of adequate role players like Shane Battier and rookie Norris Cole. This team, free of last year’s pressure and media scrutiny, is going to unleash something fierce and I don’t believe they can be stopped.
Projected record: 54-12.
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CLEVELAND CAVALIERS | Under 17
Outside of drafting Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert did next to nothing to help his pathetic franchise improve in the offseason. The Cavs’ projected starting lineup consists of the following: Ramon Sessions, Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao.
Gilbert’s whiny letter to David Stern in protest of the Lakers possibly trading for Chris Paul was about as ridiculous and asinine as the letter he wrote to Cavs fans a year ago when LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach. During LeBron’s time in Cleveland, Gilbert was never able to find any talent to put around his star. This year, there’s arguably less talent than ever before, which is why it’s hard to envision this team winning more than 15 games.
How thin are the Cavs? So thin that they’re considering giving a roster spot to Comic Sans.
Projected record: 14-52.