As the NBA returns to work, Cloudbet’s trading department, the leading crypto sportsbook and casino, breaks down the new market movers, showing you who’s hot and who isn’t at the Disney World Laboratory.
1. League leaders reassert their arguments about the title: While both lost a game piece during the scrimmages, the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers did enough to strengthen their chances of taking home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
a. The lengthy layoff has helped teams with ageing or injured star players: The break has allowed Lebron James to give a good rest to his 35-year-old body for the Lakers. The last time he did so, James then went on a roll to lead his team to a 7-2 streak for the All-Star break in February. He definitely bounced back in style during a dramatic nightcap victory on Thursday.
b. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo – a strong favourite to earn his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award this season – was able to rest a sprained knee suffered against the Lakers in a March game.
c. All teams arrive refreshed and recharged for the restart. The Lakers are in favour of winning the 2019-2020 title, with their line dropping from 3.34 (+234) to 3.31 (~9/4; or +231;) before the scrimmage. Strong showings from their second and third-string players , particularly with James and Anthony Davis on the bench in the third scrimmage game.
d. The Bucks are just behind, from 3.53 (+253), at 3.45 (~ 5/2; or +245). Antetokounmpo clearly shone during the practise matches, with fellow starters Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez providing more than enough support.
2. Los Angeles Clippers lose ground in the title race: The Clips have been big drifters in the market since the scrimmages began, though still third-favourite to win the championship.
a. Among the top teams, this squad was most affected by the constraints on the Covid bubble, with two main members (Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley) in quarantine following temporary family absences.
b. Williams, the leader in assists for the Clips, was pilloried on social media for a heavily publicised and ill-advised visit to a strip club in Atlanta while on vacation.
c. Another player, Harrel Montrezl, has yet to come back from family leave.
d. It means that a much weakened team takes on the Lakers in their July 30 restart opener, and they are unlikely to be back at full strength before at least the rebooted competition ‘s second week – that’s difficult, considering that there are just eight seeding match-ups to come.
e. Despite these plays, bets on the Clips to win it all actually cost 4.15 (~3/1; or +315). A championship chance now stands at 24.1 percent, about a percentage point lower than before the practise scrimmings began.
3. Houston Rockets are cementing their place among the top four championship favourites: While they ended the pre-Covid season with the league’s 10th-best win-loss record, the Rockets have played their way into winning the title as fourth-favourites.
One line of thought has it that they will benefit from the long break rather than others: four of their main players, including stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, are 30 or older, and the shorter season will shield them from a regular season’s prolonged wear-and-tears.
a. During the layoff Harden served like a fiend, returning to Disneyworld with a notably slimmer physique. Currently the top scorer of the league this season, he has predictably led point output of his team over the three matches of scrimmage.
b. Westbrook became a question mark after mid-July positive tests for Covid, but emerged from the NBA’s quarantine protocol in time to play good minutes in all three scrimmages of his team.
c. Houston’s championship chances this season have been firming from 15.6 (+1460) on to 15.1 (~14/1; or +1415) over the past week.
d. With starter Eric Gordon fracturing his ankle during H-Town ‘s win over Boston, one setback occurred this week. No strong price change yet, as the market awaits test results in order to assess its immediate future position.
4. Toronto Raptors are gaining ground in the title race: The success of the defending champions this season before the suspension of the league (72 percent win rate) shows that they are still a force to be reckoned with even after losing star player Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers.
The Raps claimed two out of their three scrimmages, which also saw the return of centre Marc Gasol, who spent the break rehabilitating his dodgy hamstrings and losing a significant weight.
a. Clipper odds have decreased from 18 to 16.9 (~ 17/1; or +1591) for a repeat championship.
b. At fifth in the outright lists, they have now displaced the Boston Celtics to take the title.
5. New Orleans is improving its odds for a playoff spot in the West: On July 27, the Pelicans dominated their three practise match-ups, including a 21-point drubbing of the Bucks, all without their star rookie Zion Williamson, who had quarantined after a family-related absence from the bubble.
This week’s big news was Williamson’s resuming action, an presence warmly accepted by teammates: He’s the second highest scorer for the Pellies and missed 44 games this season due to knee and ankle injuries.
a. His return plus a good display of scrimmage has strengthened their success prospects in the West.
b. The curiosity over the tussle for the final play-off spot at that conference also rises. The Memphis Grizzlies are currently in favour of taking that spot, paying 1.64 (~4/6; or -156), with New Orleans at 3.81 (~11/4; or +281) next.
6. Regardless of the aforementioned factors, the results of the Western Conference have been reframed: the staff problems of the Clippers mean they have lost the slim advantage they had previously over the Lakers as favourites to take the West.
a. Team Lebron are now at 2.66 (~13/8; or +166) tops with odds of 2.58 (~6/4; or +158).
b. The largest change in fortunes belongs to the Rockets, with a line of 7.28 (~6/1; or +628) that actually gives them a 13.7 percent chance of winning the title, or 2.1 percentage points higher than before scrimmings began.
c. The other big step was New Orleans: their line dropped from 54.6 to 31.1 (~30/1; or +3013) though they are still unfancied as conference champions.
NBA guidelines on quarantines:
Current NBA protocol means players may be screened during this resumption as much as regular. If a player has a confirmed positive result, he will seek care and rest without exercising for a total of 14 days. The player must pass cardiac tests and also test negative for the coronavirus twice in a 24-hour cycle in order to return.
On July 21, after evaluating 346 players, the NBA announced zero cases of coronavirus, and the league has gone three weeks without a positive outcome.
Prices are as collected by Cloudbet on July 30