The Milwaukee Bucks are the favorites to win the NBA title entering the playoffs, but two Western Conference teams have the potential to be more costly for sportsbooks.
The Bucks are the consensus betting favorite, listed at +275 at Caesars Sportsbook. The Boston Celtics are next at +325 and the Phoenix Suns (+425), Golden State Warriors (+800) and Philadelphia 76ers (+950) round out the teams with single-digit title odds.
However, thanks to a pair of big bets placed in July by an unidentified bettor in Nevada, the Sacramento Kings pose the largest liability for Caesars.
On July 12, Caesars reported that a bettor at the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas placed a $10,000 bet on the Kings to win the championship at 750-1 and another $8,000 title wager on Sacramento at 350-1. The bets would win a net $10.3 million if the Kings shock the world.
“It’s a pretty large liability,” Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars, said regarding how much a Kings championship would cost the book.
The Kings overcame 250-1 preseason odds to win the Pacific Division, becoming the biggest long shot to win any division in the NBA, NHL, NFL or MLB since at least 2010, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. They will face the defending champion Warriors in a first-round series that tips off Saturday in Sacramento. Golden State is a -275 favorite in the series.
The Los Angeles Lakers also have sportsbooks’ attention.
“The Lakers are our biggest outright liability for the Western Conference and for the championship,” Kevin Lawler, head of trading at PointsBet, told ESPN. “They went off at 12-1 at the start of the season, drifted as far as 125-1 in November.”
At Caesars, the Lakers are the second-largest liability, behind only the Kings.
They will take on the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round series. The Grizzlies are a small favorite in the series but have longer championship odds (+1800) than the Lakers (+1400).