The NBA's implementing its first play-in tournament this season, beginning on Tuesday. While it'll be a tougher path for these eight teams, there are two worth betting at the current market prices.
Surprise, surprise - the reigning champs make the list, although they're far from automatic in a deep field. The Lakers have been ravaged by injuries and finished just 32-39-1 against the spread (45.1%), tied for the sixth-worst mark in basketball. There's certainly cause for skepticism here.
However, both the playoff experience and overall talent on the roster will keep the money flowing in. Despite the rough patches the club endured early in the second half, it's still 30-15 when LeBron James is in the lineup.
Los Angeles is well-equipped to handle any sort of offensive juggernaut, as its 104.9 defensive rating tops the NBA. That may come in handy down the road, especially if the Finals pits them against the potent Nets, who are favored to win the whole thing (+160).
Let's play a little blind resume test. Here are two play-in teams matched up side by side.
|Category||Team A||Team B|
|Expected win percentage||.538||.538|
Team A is Memphis. Team B is Golden State.
The Warriors may own half the titles over the last six years and employ the most feared shooter in basketball history, but the Grizzlies can be bet at a much better price despite playing eerily similar during the regular season.
The Grizzlies don't play the sexiest brand of basketball, but they've quietly got the job done. They take care of the ball (No. 6 in the NBA in turnovers), pound the offensive glass (No. 5 in offensive rebounds), and have a solid wing defender with Dillon Brooks who can match up with anyone.
I've pounded my fists for Memphis all year. It only makes sense to hop on the bandwagon for one last ride.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.