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Damian Lillard
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Odds and Ends

Bookmakers enamored with Lakers-Blazers odds

by Sam Panayotovich
Updated On: August 13, 2020, 4:32 pm ET

There's a certain conversation taking place inside every sportsbook in America right now. 

If the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers meet in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, what's the price?

"I was originally around Lakers -800, but now it's definitely lower than that," Caesars senior oddsmaker Alan Berg told NBC Sports. "I'm closer to the -500 or -600 range. L.A. still plays really good defense. They have two of the most talented players in the league. I'm on the Damian Lillard bandwagon and the Blazers are capable, but the Lakers should still be a heavy favorite."

I personally agree with Berg on the heavy favorite part, but it's hard to ignore this Portland push. They paced out to a 5-and-2 record in the bubble and they play an incredibly entertaining style of basketball. Three-pointers fly from every direction and their guard tandem of Lillard and C.J. McCollum run the show with speed and elegance. The Blazers get buckets too. They've scored 140, 124, 110, 125, 117, 121, and 134 points in their bubble games. 

And believe it or not -- the bookmakers are paying attention.

One sportsbook director in Vegas told me he would open up at Lakers -400. 

"It could be even lower than that," he added. "There's a lot of liability on the Blazers. Conference. Championship. We'll lose a lot of money if they go all the way." 

Before the NBA relaunch, Portland was as high as 80-to-1 to win the NBA championship in Las Vegas. Fast forward to today and the Blazers are the sexy sleeper team that your best friend, bartender, mailman, dentist, mechanic and barber are all gushing over. Caesars is now dealing them at 30-to-1 to win the whole enchilada. 

"And we're still getting hammered," Berg added. 

I'm always suspicious of the public underdog. Think Notre Dame vs. Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship. The Irish had their doors blown off. 42-14 Alabama. Connor McGregor received unbelievable betting support against Floyd Mayweather. McGregor got his ass knocked out and it wasn't really all that close. 

At the end of the day, it's almost impossible for me to imagine the Lakers getting bounced in the first round. Plus, they're a ratings bonanza and more LeBron equals more ratings. In a superstar driven league, LeBron and Anthony Davis are going to get all the calls. The league is in a better place when the Lakers make deep playoff runs. 

So think long and hard before you burn that Benjamin betting on the Blazers to advance. 

You should know better.

Sam Panayotovich

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst from the South Side of Chicago. He'll probably pick against your favorite team a lot. Follow him @spshoot