NBA Finals Betting Angles: The Many Reasons For the Game 6 Under (Sunday, Oct. 11)


Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler and LeBron James.

  • The NBA Finals have been difficult to bet from a spread perspective, but the total is an intriguing pick in Game 6.
  • Matt Moore breaks down why three different unders could be the best bet heading into the Heat-Lakers battle.
  • Check out Moore's full analysis on why the unders could be money-makers on Sunday.

Lakers vs. Heat Betting Odds

Lakers Odds -5 [BET NOW]
Heat Odds +5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -210/+170 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 214.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET

Odds as of Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

These NBA Finals are a minefield.

I wrote why the value was on Miami before the series started. That looked plain, flat-out stupid two days ago. The Lakers had dominated the Heat, like they’d dominated the Blazers and Rockets, and were on the verge of finishing off the Heat in five games as they’d done to both those teams and the Nuggets.

Now the whole narrative has shifted. Anthony Davis is banged up. The Lakers are reeling, and Miami gets to put the pressure on a team in which only LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, and Danny Green have been to a Game 6 in the Finals.

The narrative, a powerful, visceral element in NBA history, says you need to bet Lakers here. They’re the better team, they’re the favorite historically, they have the two best players in the series.

The matchups, evolving trends of the series, momentum, and coaching edge trends toward the Heat. Miami has won 11 of the 20 quarters in this series. The Lakers? Only eight (They tied once).

The Lakers were 7.5-point favorites in Games 4 and 5 and as much as 8.5 point-favorites at close in Game 4. The Game 6 line is down to five, putting value on LA given that if it’s within five in the final 30 seconds, the Heat are likely to foul. But the Heat have shown they’re good enough to win this game.

The Lakers are better — they’ve shown that. The Heat can win — they’ve shown that. It’s a brutal series to bet.

But… let’s talk about the under.

Game 6 opened at 215.5. It’s down a full point to 214.5, with 60% of the bets on the over and 90% of the money on the under, indicating a huge push of money on the under.

The angles are all in alignment with the under for Game 6 at multiple levels.

History: Going back to 2003, the under is 16-13 (55%) in Game 6’s in the Conference Finals or Finals. Since 2015 (the start of the modern 3-point era), the under is 6-3 in such games.

The under is 16-13 in the playoffs when the total drops by at least a point from open to close, per BetLabs.

The Second-Quarter Impact

This one is really important. So important I brought charts (of course I brought charts).

The second quarter is the one quarter in this series that has averaged meaningfully above the average quarter line.

If we look at the series, something sticks out. The second quarter is the one in which Davis has played the least. He’s averaged just 6.8 minutes per second quarter in the playoffs, and surprisingly, in this series, even less at 6.7.

The Lakers have surrendered just 94 points per 100 possessions with Davis on the floor in the second quarter of this series.

They’ve surrendered 133 in the minutes he’s sat in the second quarters of this series, including 1.85 points per possession in the four minutes he sat in Game 5.

Now, Davis won’t play the entire second quarter. But he’s likely to play more than 6.7 minutes, and the odds of the Heat hitting absolutely everything in those minutes is low, as are the odds of Miami putting up a 113 offensive rating with Davis on the floor as it did in Game 5.

If you want to simplify this: expect more minutes from Davis and fewer minutes from Kyle Kuzma in the one bad defensive quarter the Lakers have had in this series.

Let’s talk pace. The Heat are running a seven-man rotation, eight if Goran Dragic gets back (and if they don’t cut out Kendrick Nunn in that scenario; Dragic is doubtful for Game 6). They’re at the end of the playoffs. They’re playing huge minutes against a big, physical team. It’s exhausting. And it’s having an impact on their pace.

This is seconds per play by game in this series from inPredictable:

So the Lakers are running more transition offense in the fourth, and that can push the total. But the Heat, the better offensive team, are taking longer and longer in those second quarters, and this trend repeats itself across quarters. Miami is taking longer to run its offense.

The second quarter pre-game line is 55.5, compared to 50.5 for the fourth quarter. That quarter, in particular, is ripe for regression.

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Lakers’ Half-Court Offense

The Lakers’ half-court offense is regressing to the mean as well.

The Lakers have regressed to the mean with their shooters no longer bombing from deep. This has been a mediocre half-court offense throughout the season. This trend happened against the Nuggets as well, and the Lakers were able to get through it with talent, but there’s enough data here to get a turn. Notably, the Lakers can still win with transition buckets off turnovers, but in such situations, you’re still getting just a 1.0 points per possession mark, which helps the under.

The Butler Regression

Butler was magnificent in Game 5. Incredible. Legendary. He outdueled LeBron James! It was magnificent on all levels.

It’s also not something he does in consecutive games. Butler has now scored 30 or more in 10 NBA playoff games. He has never done so in consecutive games in a series and has never done so three times in a series. He was completely exhausted at the end of Game 5, including the final 36 minutes of the game.

Butler is amazing when he puts those games together. But he doesn’t put those games together every game. Anything less than 35 from Butler, and Miami’s probably not putting up 110-plus which puts this in line for the under.

The Lakers have adjustments open to them for Game 6 against a short line. The Heat have momentum and matchup advantages. The spread is difficult, but the total leans in one direction.

LEANS: Under 214.5, first-half under 111.5, second quarter under 55.5

[Bet the Heat-Lakers unders now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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