2021 NBA Finals Market Report: Big Bets, Series Action, MVP Liabilities & More (July 6)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: 2021 NBA Finals
The NBA Finals are set to begin Tuesday, but bets have been flowing in for months leading up to Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.
It might not be the matchup bettors were expecting — Lakers? Clippers? Nets? — but the series itself offers plenty of intrigue. Chris Paul is chasing his first ring in his first NBA Finals. Devin Booker gets the main stage to fully entrench himself into superstar status. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s first shot at a title comes with a question mark as he works through a knee injury.
Editor’s note: Giannis Antetokounmpo is active for Game 1.
OK, maybe there isn’t a lot of intrigue to the general public when compared to LeBron James chasing another ring or seeing if Brooklyn’s Big Three can get it done. While bets and action are up compared to the 2020 Finals, the overall interest isn’t at the same level.
More people are betting on sports across the country as it becomes legal in more states, but the interest in this year’s NBA Finals hasn’t followed the same trajectory that would be expected if some of the bigger markets and stars were involved.
Because of the matchup, most of the sweating sportsbooks have done is over. They’re a winner no matter the result, as the biggest liabilities suffered early exits. The focus will turn to series prices and who will win the MVP, as well as on a game-by-game basis.
Prices will be ever-changing in this series, especially while Antetokounmpo’s status is uncertain. He’s been upgraded from doubtful to questionable in Game 1, moving the line at some books from Phoenix -6.5 down to -5.5 points.
We’ve gathered data from multiple sportsbooks to give as much insight as we can to where bettors are going with their money from futures to series bets to MVP.
NBA Finals Outright Market
The Bucks aren’t actually a surprise, although head coach Mike Budenholzer might’ve had you thinking otherwise throughout the playoffs. They were +500 odds at PointsBet entering the season, then +800 entering the playoffs and reached as high as +1600 when down 0-2 to the Nets in the second round.
Phoenix on the other hand? Yeah, that’s a surprise.
A +5000 longshot before the season, the Suns were still +2500 entering the playoffs with a first-round matchup against the Lakers. That number ballooned to +5000 again when trailing that series by a 2-1 margin.
For PointsBet, the Suns were not a top-five liability in the outright market. The Bucks were fourth in total bets and handle, but because of the short price didn’t make the top 15 for liabilities.
The largest outright bet FanDuel is watching from during the season is $52,100 on the Bucks at +480 odds.
On June 21, BetMGM took $300,000 on the Bucks to win the title at +110 odds.
NBA Finals Series Market
The series price has fluctuated, with Phoenix opening as a -170 favorite and the Bucks coming back as a +145 underdog. However, with Giannis’ status in doubt, Phoenix stretched to -200 and Milwaukee +170 odds.
FanDuel took series prices off the board when Antetokounmpo was upgraded to questionable.
Phoenix has taken 64% of handle, while 58% of bets are on the Bucks to win the series at PointsBet.
NBA Finals MVP Market
How will this chapter of Paul’s career end? Bettors are hoping it’s him holding up the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award.
Once +4000 to win the award, Paul is now the favorite across the board in the +150 range. We monitored Paul’s shortening odds earlier this postseason when the movement really began. Not only is he the favorite, but he’s the biggest liability for BetMGM and PointsBet in the MVP market.
Teammate Devin Booker is +250 to win the award, sitting second in bets and handle. He also opened +4000 odds.
Should the Bucks win the title, Giannis is the obvious favorite at +450, although his injury will add intrigue to Jrue Holliday and Khris Middleton.