- The Miami Heat have successfully bounced back this season after missing the playoffs and losing Dwyane Wade to retirement last season. The Heat are currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and have clinched a playoff spot. However, bettors should not treat the Heat as credible title contenders.
- The Heat’s offseason acquisition of five-time all-star Jimmy Butler has paid off. Butler leads the Heat in points and assists per game. But a team with Butler as its best player is not a team that can win a championship. Butler has been solid, but not spectacular, in the playoffs since he left the Chicago Bulls.
- The Heat’s impressive 41-24 record can be attributed to their incredible performance at home. Miami has the third best home record in the entire league. However, Miami has struggled significantly on the road. They’ve lost 19 of their 33 road games this season. None of the remaining regular season games will take place at American Airlines Arena in Miami.
- The Heat missed a golden opportunity to substantially improve their roster at the trade deadline. Instead of landing a potential game-changing player like Danilo Gallinari, the Heat could only add Jae Crowder and Andre Igoudala. Neither Crowder and Igoudala are difference makers at this stage of their careers.
- Bettors should fade the Heat for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. They are a team ripe for a first round defeat. The people who make NBA expert picks aren’t backing the Heat and neither should you
A Star But Not A Superstar
Jimmy Butler has met the high expectations that were placed on him when the Heat completed a sign-and-trade deal for him this offseason. Butler leads the team in scoring, assists, win shares, and even has the ability to move an NBA point spread on his own. He boasts the highest value over a replacement player on the team. The Heat’s improvement this season can largely be attributed to Butler’s presence.
However, a team with Butler as its best player is not a championship contender. Butler is an all-star because he’s good at everything. But he’s not a superstar because he’s not excellent at anything. Butler only has four 30-point games this season. Butler is also having one of the worst three-point shooting seasons of his career. Butler has averaged just 18.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game in his last two postseasons. Those are not the numbers of a superstar who can carry a team to a championship.
No More Home Cooking
Besides the Philadelphia 76ers, no team relied more on its home court advantage to win games than the Heat. The Heat are 27-5 at home this season but just 14-19 on the road. That made the Miami Heat an absolute force for bettors who love to lay down cash on NBA money line home favorites. The Heat’s offense fell off a cliff whenever they had to go on the road. The Heat have an offensive rating of 116.6 at home but a rating of 107.9 on the road. Unfortunately for Miami’s championship hopes, none of the remaining regular season games will be in Miami.
Failure At The Trade Deadline
News reports at the trade deadline suggested that the Heat sought to land Danilo Gallinari. Unfortunately, the Heat had to settle for Jae Crowder and Andre Igoudala as their deadline acquisitions. Crowder and Igoudala are nothing more than serviceable role players. Neither Crowder nor Igoudala adds the offensive juice that the Heat needed to become a true championship contender.
Bettors should look to fade the Heat for the rest of the regular season and to bet on a first round defeat. While all-star Bam Adebayo has had a breakout season and Duncan Robinson has emerged as one of the best three-point shooters in the league, the Heat lack the talent to make a deep playoff run, let alone win a playoff series. The uncertainty over where the NBA playoffs will take place is another bearish sign for a team that has already reached the limits of its capabilities.
The Most Important Basketball Matches To Bet On In 2020
With basketball and the NBA season set to restart on the 30th of July after a gap of more than 4 months, betting on the sport will now again be peaking. With that in mind, here is a set of 10 games that you need to think the most about putting your money on. This will be a list of important games to bet on, rather than important games to watch out for basketball action:
- Clippers vs Lakers, 30th July
The presence of the best player in basketball makes the odds lopsided in the Lakers’ favor. Their significantly superior record compared to the Clippers has given them the oddsmakers’ benefit of short odds on every remaining matchup. But betting on the Clippers in this game could turn out to be a really wise move.
Powered by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers can punch way above their weight and make you a killing on the +165 odds on offer.
- Celtics vs Bucks, 31st July
Normally, when the best team in basketball goes up against the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, the odds are supposed to be shorter. But Bet way has offered tempting odds on the Celtics in this game, giving a payout of +170 despite the fact that they have 3 players averaging 20 points per game.
While the Bucks, led by Giannis, have been in rude form throughout the season, the Celtics beat them early in the season by 12 points. Going with the Cs in this game will be a handy basketball gamble to make.
- Pacers vs Sixers, 1st August
The Sixes and the Pacers sit on exactly the same record (39-26). But the difference is that the Sixes are at full strength with the resumption of the basketball season, while the Pacers will miss Sabonis.
However, the line offered on Bet way of +195 on the Pacers is far too tempting for an avid gambler to pass up. You’d be well-advised to put your money on Pacers basketball for this game. Especially with the expected comeback of Victor Oladipo.
- Clippers vs Pelicans, 2nd August
The absence of Lou Williams due to a silly decision of going out to have chicken wings at Magic City will deplete the basketball roster of the Clippers for the first 3 games.
The Pelicans, on the other hand, will be at full strength, including the likely return of rookie sensation and #1 NBA draft pick in 2019 Zion Williamson. There are great chances that the Pelicans receive a +140 line or so and go on to win this basketball game.
- Clippers vs Suns, 5th August
The Clippers have gotten off to a sluggish start in the scrimmages, especially Kawhi Leonard. With the Phoenix Suns at full strength and Lou Williams likely to miss their first 3 games, there’s a good possibility that the Clippers will rest one of Leonard or George for this game.
The betting line will still be at least +140 in favor of the Suns, who will look to Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton to provide them with the scoring punch. A bet on the Suns wouldn’t go amiss on this game of basketball.
- Nuggets vs Trail Blazers, 7th August
The Nuggets are comfortably placed at 3rd in the Western Conference. They are likely to finish at that spot and have no basketball reasons to overexert their squad during the seeding games.
The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, sit at 9th in the Conference and will be aiming to make the playoffs. They are likely to receive a line of +1300 or better. Powered by Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Nurkic, the Blazers have a real shot at beating Denver in this game.
- Bucks vs Heat, 7th August
The Heat and the Bucks are separated by the significant margin of 12 games in the Eastern Conference. The two teams are well set to meet in playoff basketball given their status as the #4 and #1 seeds respectively.
The last time the Bucks played the Heat, Giannis had his worst scoring game of the season. The odds will definitely be quite short on the Bucks, so picking the Heat could prove to be a real steal on this one.
- Rockets vs Lakers, 7th August
The Rockets would be aiming to finish 5th in the Conference, tied as they are with the Thunder on a 40-24 record. Their faceoff with the Lakers would be a pivotal game of basketball in this path.
The Rockets are likely to receive a line of +130 or so for this game. They beat the Lakers in their last faceoff, after the Clint Capela trade. So going for a Rockets W for this game is solidly advisable on betting factors.
- Bucks vs Mavericks, 9th August
The Mavericks beat the Bucks in their first meeting of the season in Milwaukee, despite not having MVP candidate Luka Doncic in their ranks. Despite this, the odds line is likely to heavily favor the Bucks, to a tune of at least -450.
Betting on the Mavs, who’re likely to get a payoff of +150 or more, will be a handy pick. Basketball is a make-or-miss game, and the probability of the Mavs making their shots in this game seems pretty high given their size and versatility across the board.
- Nets vs Magic, 11th August
These two basketball teams are destined to meet each other twice in the bubble. While their first meeting will likely be quite competitive, by the time they meet the second time, the Magic will probably have secured 7th seed by a significant margin.
This would put the betting line in their favor, and the Magic would have the chance to rest its players before a possible playoff matchup repeat against the Raptors. Betting on the Nets in this game, for a prospective line of +140 or so, would be the way forward.
Popularity of Basketball in UK, is it the next Big Market?
When talking about the most popular sports in the UK, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear basketball being mentioned. However, the sport has gathered some momentum over the last five years or so and is steadily rising in both participation and spectator numbers.
With this growth in popularity comes the increase in bets placed on the sport. Go to any main bookmaker online and you won’t struggle to find basketball betting among the array of sports to choose from. So, is basketball the next big betting market in the UK? We take a look at how UK basketball has gotten to where it is today and where it could go in the future.
Basketball in the UK has had a rather checkered past. Established in 1987, the British Basketball League (BBL) saw rapid growth in the early 1990s, most likely due to the rising popularity of the NBA in the UK, with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan coming to prominence in the sport and inspiring a generation to get involved in the sport.
For the next decade, basketball in the UK saw healthy progression, with record attendances and commercial sponsorship deals to even rival football, with the likes of Budweiser, Peugeot and Playboy all attaching their brands to the new venture. It looked as though basketball was going to be the most popular pastime besides football betting in the UK – that was until the early 2000s.
The new millennium saw a change in fortunes. ITV Digital, which was set to become the biggest subscription based sports channel in the UK, collapsed. The BBL were due to receive more than £21 million pounds in TV revenue as a result of the deal, but missed out on the essential funding. This led to multiple BBL teams such as Essex Leopards, Birmingham Bullets and the Manchester Giants pulling out of the league, with some franchises folding completely under the financial strain.
It’s taken a long time for basketball in the UK to recover. After sell-out crowds at Wembley Arena in 2012 and 2014; the 2015 BBL play-off finals took place in front of record crowds at the 02 Arena in London. Since then, franchises have continued to develop their facilities and build the necessary foundations for the sport to once again rise to prominence in the UK. The hard work that the BBL and the franchises have put in over the last decade looks to be coming to fruition, as Leicester became the first British basketball participant in Europe for 11 years when they played in the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup in the 2018/19 season.
With basketball in the UK now looking back on the rise, it would be no surprise to see an increase in the amount of bets placed on the sport as a direct result. An indicator that online bookmakers are taking the sport seriously can be seen when looking at the amount of markets that are on offer. It’s not just match outright odds, you can now bet on handicap, or ‘spread’ markets, winning margin and total match points to name just a few.
A recent study by the UK Gambling Commission estimated more than £14 billion is spent on gambling in the UK. Maybe it’s time for basketball to get a bigger piece of that pie.
Liked “The Last Dance”? Try These Documentaries
Living through the biggest pandemic of the new millennium (so far, of course) is bad enough in itself… having to do so without live sports only makes it worse. The NBA is struggling to find a solution to the problems caused by the ongoing pandemic. The day the players step inside the court again is drawing close but sometimes it feels that it’s still way too far.
Reruns, YouTube videos, and documentaries like The Last Dance that can fill the void left by live sports in our souls. The latter is the perfect solution if you want to remember one of the greatest basketball teams in history, and while some may call it way too long (it has ten episodes filled with flashbacks and interviews, mostly focusing on Michael Jordan), others see it as the perfect way to pass the time until NBA finally resumes. And if it got you in the mood for more basketball documentaries, here are a few more to check out.
One & Done/Ben Simmons (Amazon Prime)
Born in Australia to a player at the Melbourne Tigers in Australia’s National Basketball League, Ben Simmons was destined to follow his father’s footsteps. He was torn, in turn, between basketball and his other passion, Australian rules football (a bit similar to rugby). He went with the first, though, and was pretty successful, too – at the age of 15, he was chosen to represent Australia at the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship. His dream was to play in the NBA, a dream that he achieved by first playing for the Montverde Academy, then with the NCAA Division 1 team LSU Tigers.
His road from his first games in Australia to becoming the number one overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers is depicted in the Showtime documentary “One & Done”, released in 2016.
Iverson (Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, Play Store, Microsoft Store)
Allen Iverson (aka AI or the Answer) played 14 years in the NBA. During his career, he collected 11 NBA All-Star positions, two All-Star MVP awards, and was the NBA’s most valuable player in 2001.
Iverson was born in 1975 to a 15-year-old single mom. In high school, he played football and basketball, earning The Associated Press High School Player of the Year award in both sports. At 17, he was involved in a brawl, arrested, and convicted – he received an unusually harsh sentence. Upon leaving Richard Milburn High School for at-risk students, Georgetown University head coach John Thompson was waiting for him with a full basketball scholarship.
Two seasons into his college basketball career, he was signed – first overall – by the Philadelphia 76ers, starting his successful career in the NBA.
A biopic about his life, directed by Zatella Beatty, was released in 2014.
Basketball: A Love Story (ESPNPlayer)
Award-winning director Dan Klores asked NBA and WNBA players, coaches, commissioners, both active and retired, what made them fall in love with basketball. The result: 62 “short stories” divided into ten two-hour episodes where Klores and the team talk to pretty much every major basketball personality (with the notable exception of Michael Jordan and Gregg Popovich).