The midseason hiatus and subsequent Orlando bubble as a response to COVID-19 has changed almost everything about this NBA season, but it has had a notable impact on gamblers. Bettors that had futures stakes in some of the best teams in the NBA saw their money go up in flames when groups like the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers couldn't adjust to bubble ball. The Miami Heat, meanwhile, have rewarded the faith that bettors put in them with one of the more surprising runs to the Finals in recent NBA history.
The numbers on some of the earlier bets placed on the Heat, according to William Hill Sportsbook, are stark. Here are the some of the craziest bets they took:
- $200 on the Heat at 200-to-1 to win the title ($40,200 payout).
- $600 on the Heat at 75-to-1 to win the title ($45,600 payout).
- $2,000 on the Heat at 40-to-1 to win the title ($82,000 payout).
Now, it should be noted that these odds changed drastically over time. When 2020 championship odds were first released, the Heat were in cap hell and hadn't yet acquired Jimmy Butler. As unbelievable as it seems, there was a moment in which a 2020 Heat championship seemed practically impossible. As the season went on, their odds steadily improved. First, they got Butler, then Bam Adebayo became an All-Star, and by midseason, they'd established themselves as fringe contenders.
The Lakers, even at their worst, never had such low odds. The mere presence of LeBron James ensured that they'd be in the championship conversation even after missing the 2019 playoffs. Vegas always believed that he'd find a superstar teammate with the Lakers, but before he did, there was still a bit of value to be found. One William Hill Sportsbook bettor, for instance, bet $9,500 on the Lakers to win the championship at 5-to-1.
Outside of dynasties like the Kevin Durant version of the Golden State Warriors, championship bets are always risky. These bettors made hefty investments in the Lakers and Heat, and now, some of their going to be heavily rewarded for their faith.