NBA betting: Oddsmakers still love the Celtics, but bettors prefer 76ers
Looking at the NBA odds at BetMGM, you'd never know the Boston Celtics are in a second-round battle with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers won Game 1 in Boston and then won in overtime of Game 4. The series is tied 2-2 and the 76ers, who won 54 games in the regular season (only three fewer than the Celtics) and have two elite talents in MVP Joel Embiid and James Harden, have shown they're capable of taking the series.
Yet, the Celtics are still huge favorites to win the NBA title, which is 10 wins away for them.
The Celtics are +165 at BetMGM to win the championship. That's a heavy favorite at this stage in the playoffs. Jayson Tatum is +275 to win NBA Finals MVP, and nobody else is shorter than +500.
Bettors aren't even convinced the Celtics are going to beat the 76ers in Game 5.
Bettors are taking the 76ers
The 76ers are a 7.5-point underdog, and 66% of the bets and 60% of the money is on them to cover in Game 5. That's a lot of points for a team that is tied 2-2 in a series, so that makes sense.
But plenty of bettors think the 76ers can win straight up. Of all the bets on the moneyline, 67% is on the 76ers.
It's a battle between bettors and oddsmakers, and the house generally wins when there's a disagreement. But there are plenty of reasons to like the 76ers. The Celtics faltered late in the season, they struggled to put away the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and they dropped two games in this series already. The 76ers have won both games in which Harden played well, and if he's hot a couple more times this series it could be trouble for the Celtics.
But oddsmakers are staying strong on the Celtics.
Celtics big favorites for Game 5
The point spread for Game 5 is an indication of where the sportsbooks have the Celtics rated.
The Celtics were 10.5-point favorites in Game 1 and lost straight up. Then the spread went to 7.5 for Game 2. Even though the 76ers won another game in Philadelphia, the spread is still 7.5 for Game 5. None of the other second-round series have had a spread that high, and it's not like the 76ers are a low seed that happened to pull a first-round upset.
Boston is a huge -185 favorite to win the East, and that makes some sense. If they get by the 76ers, they'd be a big favorite over the Miami Heat, or the New York Knicks if the Knicks rally from their 3-1 deficit in the series.
Still, it has to be a little scary to take a big favorite when they're not even assured of advancing out of the second round. The next few days will go a long way in determining if the Celtics are the deserving favorites to win it all.