NBA Finals Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Game 1 of Heat vs. Lakers (Wednesday, Sept. 30)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler #22 plays defense against LeBron James #23.
- The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat will face off in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night (9 p.m. ET on ABC).
- Our experts are betting spreads, moneylines, team totals and parlays in tonight's matchup.
- Check out their analysis for all of their favorite bets in Wednesday's NBA Finals matchup below.
Looking for our picks in Game 2? You can find them here.
All the talk, all the storylines and all the hype have led to a highly anticipated NBA Finals. We’ve discussed the parallels, the angles and everything else ahead of Wednesday’s Game 1 matchup.
So, where’s the value today? Our staff is here to break down their favorite NBA bets for tonight’s NBA Finals meeting:
- 9 p.m. ET: Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Picks
Raheem Palmer: Heat vs. Lakers
|Heat odds||+4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Lakers odds||-4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+160/-191 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||217.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
Before the Miami Heat closed out the Boston Celtics in six games, I’ve been on record saying that they’d win Game 1.
I’m sticking to that.
LeBron James is a notorious slow starter in the NBA Finals and his Game 1 performances are akin to a boxer who gives away a round or two feeling out opponents before making a series-changing adjustment.
James’ teams are 1-8 straight up, 2-7 against the spread and have been outscored by a combined 57 points over nine Game 1s with his only win being a 92-84 victory over the Dallas Mavericks as 4.5-point favorites. While it’s worth it to note James has played against some historically great teams, the Heat certainly have things they can take advantage of in this matchup.
One of the Lakers’ biggest weaknesses has been perimeter shooting and Miami’s zone defense is perfect to exploit that. In 40 possessions against Miami’s zone in the regular season, the Lakers have scored 0.975 points per possession. We can expect to see the Heat go to it early and often as the Lakers scored just 1.071 points per possession against all zone defenses this season.
Early in the series, I expect the Heat to give Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope open shots, which should play a significant factor in how the early games of this series go. Based on the inconsistency from those guys behind the arc, I like the Heat’s chances.
The Heat have more than enough options to throw at James with Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala. Bam Adebayo is also the ideal defender for Anthony Davis as he held him to 5-of-11 shooting in their November matchup, per NBA Advanced Stats.
With Bam’s attention on AD, the Lakers bigs in JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard could dominate this series on the glass, creating lots of second chance points. Still, I think LA’s offense goes through an adjustment period to start the series.
Miami shot their worst shooting percentage of the playoffs against the Celtics, so I expect their shooting numbers to regress in this series. In two regular season games, the Heat committed just 10.8 turnovers per 100 possessions, which was the lowest mark against the Lakers this season. If the Heat can limit turnovers and transition points, positive three point variance and early series woes from the Lakers should push the Heat over the top.
I took the opening line of Miami +5 and moneyline +180, but the current numbers are fine to play.
The Pick: Heat ML | Heat +4.5
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Brandon Anderson: Heat vs. Lakers
The Heat have the value right now in this series.
They have not trailed in any series these playoffs. They haven’t even been tied. At some point, we all have to collectively move past thinking about the Miami Heat as a 5-seed.
The Heat are the Eastern Conference champions, and they have earned every bit of that title. They’ve fought back in every challenge and brought relentless energy at both ends of the court, breaking the favored Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics mentally. While other teams are just trying to survive this bubble, the Heat are thriving.
Oddsmakers see the Heat as a clear underdog, but you’ll never convince them of that. They believe Butler and Adebayo can hang with LeBron and Brow, and they don’t just think they have a shot to hang with the Lakers. They fully expect to beat them.
The Lakers haven’t played a team with this level of swagger and bravado. I expect the Heat to punch the Lakers in the mouth and make a statement in Game 1. But that statement may not come immediately.
LA is the far more experienced team at this stage, and their starting lineup has been dominant. I think the Lakers come out confident and take a nice first quarter lead, but Miami comes roaring back and sets the tone by stealing Game 1.
I noted in the Game 1 guide that there’s not a ton of value on Miami’s moneyline, suggesting that bettors wait for a Lakers lead before jumping in live. And then I found this combo play at PointsBet: LA to win the first quarter, but Miami to win the game. At +625 that’s a far better number than anything I expect to see live.
The Heat have repeatedly fallen behind early and punched back with their bench and they won’t be deterred by an early Lakers statement, so I won’t either.
The Pick: Lakers 1Q Winner/Heat Game Winner (+625)
Matt Moore: Heat vs. Lakers
Unders have ruled the day in the NBA playoffs, to the tune of 41-35-2, according to Bet Labs. But in the Conference Finals, the over went 9-2, and the Heat have gone over their team total prop in 11 of their last 13 playoff games, and five of their last six.
Meanwhile, the Lakers gave up a team total over to the Nuggets in four of the Conference finals’ five games. Miami’s offense is too complex, too versatile, and too 3-point centric to be held below 109.5, which is where I would take this.
This total is the second-highest in the past 17 seasons, and the under has historically been a good play in the Finals (64.7%). But the over has hit in four of the last six season, and never before has a Finals game been played on neutral court with no fans.
I’ll take Miami to draw blood and at least put up points in Game 1.
The PICK: Heat Over 106.5 team total
Joe Dellera: Heat vs. Lakers
I’m going to fade Raheem here. The Lakers are overwhelming favorites in this matchup, and rightfully so. They dominate the interior, but they also take advantage of opponent’s mistakes and excel in transition.
Per Cleaning the Glass, the Lakers have used transition on 17.1% of their possessions in the playoffs and they’ve scored 126.4 points per 100 plays. On the flip side, Miami has the 11th worst mark in the entire playoffs on the defensive side of transition, they give up 126.0 points per 100 plays.
I think the Lakers will work to exploit this advantage by utilizing their size and athleticism to secure defensive rebounds and then push the pace.
The Lakers also have some trends in their favor. Per Bet Labs, since 2005, favorites in Game 1 are 13-2 ATS covering by 5.8 points. At the time of this writing, the Lakers are only receiving 27% of spread dollars and it’s forced the line to move from -5 to -4.5.
Only twice since 2005 has the Game 1 favorite in the NBA Finals received fewer than 50% of the spread dollars. Those teams were the 2019 Raptors and the 2017 Warriors, both won and covered.
The Pick: Lakers -4.5