2023 NLL Finals Betting Odds & Picks: Buffalo Bandits vs. Colorado Mammoth Game 1 Best Bets
Colorado Mammoth forward Zed Williams, front right, smiles after scoring a goal as forwards Dylan Kinnear, back right, Brett McIntyre, front left, and Connor Robinson celebrate during the second half against the Buffalo Bandits in Game 2 of the National Lacrosse League finals Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
When the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Final Four concludes on Saturday, make sure you don’t change the channel. The National Lacrosse League Finals kick off with Game 1 at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night on ESPN2. The Colorado Mammoth travel to Buffalo to face the Bandits in a rematch of the 2022 NLL Finals.
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Buffalo Bandits (-1.5) vs. Colorado Mammoth
|Time||Saturday · 7 p.m. ET|
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The Buffalo Bandits enter Game 1 of the three-game series as 1.5-point favorites and the total is 22.5 at most sportsbooks, despite the lone matchup between these two teams earlier this season ending in a 13-8 Colorado victory.
The Bandits have looked unstoppable during the playoffs, dispatching of the Rochester Knighthawks and Toronto Rock twice by an average margin of 10 goals. Meanwhile, the Colorado Mammoth followed up their upset over the top-ranked San Diego Seals with a series win over the Calgary Roughnecks. As good as Buffalo has looked, I think the Mammoth manage to keep Game 1 close and potentially steal an early 1-0 series lead.
The Mammoth’s win over the Bandits earlier this year was not a fluke, with Dillon Ward proving to be Buffalo’s kryptonite once again. Both teams have dealt with injuries this season, but when they met in March, the only starter absent was Buffalo's Tehoka Nanticoke. Colorado went into Banditland and stifled this high-powered offense and I think they’ll be able to do so again.
Furthermore, when the Mammoth defeated the Bandits in the NLL Finals last season, they did so without MVP candidate Ryan Lee. He returned to the lineup late this season and, in just his second game back, recorded six points against Buffalo. Despite the better record and recent blowout wins, Cooper Perkins of LaxMetrics illustrated how similar Buffalo and Colorado are in their underlying metrics. In their 18 regular-season games, the Bandits and Mammoth posted nearly identical averages in total first order chances created, first order assists and percentage of goals scored via breakaway.
While I still tend to think that the Bandits will get over the hump and win the NLL Finals, the price to bet the Mammoth in Game 1 is too good. This game should be closer to a pick ‘em on the moneyline, but Caesars Sportsbook has Colorado at +165 on the moneyline and +115 on the 1.5-point spread. I like betting a half unit on Colorado to get the win and a half unit on them to cover the spread to save us from a potential one-goal loss.
Additionally, I’m also targeting two Colorado player props. Eli McLaughlin scored three goals in the last game against Buffalo and has recorded three or more in 10 of 21 games this season. His goals prop is 2.5 (+150 on FanDuel) and I like those odds to bet him to score a hat trick in Game 1. Additionally, Connor Robinson’s points prop is 4.5 (+144 on FanDuel) and he’s also surpassed this mark in 10 of 21 games. The Mammoth will need him to produce on Saturday and I recommend betting him to record at least five points in this game.
Picks: Colorado Mammoth +1.5 (0.5 unit) & Colorado Mammoth ML (0.5 unit), Eli McLaughlin Over 2.5 Goals, Connor Robinson Over 4.5 Points