Once in a while, a Game 1 loss opens up a betting opportunity.
The Los Angeles Clippers fell to the Utah Jazz in Game 1. Their series odds moved to +180 at BetMGM after the loss. Their odds to win the West are +300.
And if you liked the Clippers before the series, you’re suddenly getting some value.
The Clippers didn’t play a terrible Game 1, considering they were coming off a hard-fought seven-game first-round series. The Clippers led big early. The Jazz got hot in the second half and took a double-digit lead. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was heard in a mic’d up segment saying the Clippers could “call it quits” if Utah got a big lead, considering the Clips were coming off the seven-game series against Dallas. But the Clippers stayed in the game, cut the Jazz lead to three points in the final minute (to the chagrin of Jazz -3.5 bettors) and had a chance to win on the final possession. Nothing wrong with that.
The No. 1 seed Jazz, like the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns, have been overlooked all season. Other teams in the West have bigger stars. But the Jazz are good, and their 3-point shooting ability makes them a contender in the West (maybe even a dark horse to upset the Nets?). Betting on the Clippers isn't a slight to the Jazz, it's just due to the odds. The Jazz being -225 to win the series, after one back-and-forth three-point win, is understandable but still seems too high.
The Clippers, somehow, have never even been to a conference final. But a lot of that history doesn't have to do with a talented team that includes Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers have disappointed in the playoffs recently, maybe most notably last year in blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets, but that can provide some motivation and focus.
A Game 1 hangover wasn't unexpected for the Clippers (ask Mitchell, he knew). They are capable of winning the series, just like the Jazz are. The difference is the odds for the Clippers winning what should be a tight series, and taking the West, look a lot better. That's why the Clippers are a good underdog play.
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