The Indiana Pacers came up just short in their first-round playoffs series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James torched them for 45 points in what would be the difference maker in a 105-101 loss. But maybe Indiana can find some solace through an interesting story involving Victor Oladipo.
The Pacers guard hit a three-pointer as time ran out. The shot was virtually meaningless, other than to make the score closer. But it has special significance from a betting perspective. Specifically, it caused a multimillion-dollar swing at Vegas sportsbooks.
Oladipo’s Three Helps Pacers Cover Game 7 Spread
Many Vegas and online sportsbooks opened their Game 7 line with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a 6.5-point favorite. This is understandable, given that James hasn’t lost a first-round playoff series in 13 years, and he was playing at home.
Regardless, people were taking the Pacers at -6.5. This caused most land-based and online sportsbooks to close the Cavs’ line at either 5.5 or 5 points.
Both of these turned out to be losing propositions. Oladipo’s last-second three-pointer helped Indiana close the gap to 105-101. This meant that the Pacers covered their spread anyway you slice it.
How Oladipo’s 3-Pointer Happened
Cleveland point guard George Hill was fouled with six seconds to go in the ballgame. And he made his first free throw to give the Cavaliers a 105-98 lead. This basically iced the game, because it meant that Indiana would need the impossible task of scoring three times in six seconds to win.
Nevertheless, Victor Oladipo wasn’t ready to give up yet. Hill missed the second free throw and Oladipo rebounded it. He then dribbled up the court and hit a wide-open three-pointer to close the game.
Sportsbooks Lost Millions on Oladipo’s Three
According to ESPN’s David Purdum and Darren Rovell, the sportsbooks were seeing a lot of action on Indiana. And this came back to burn them when the Cavs didn’t cover.
“It was probably a swing of $3 million to $5 million in Nevada,” said Johnny Avello, who runs the Wynn’s sportsbook. “These types of things happen five or more times a week in our industry, whether it’s a two-run home run to cover the run line in the bottom of the ninth or an empty-net goal in the last minute of an NHL game.”
Westgate assistant manager Ed Salmons was bold enough to throw his support behind Cleveland before the game.
“We need the Cavs,” Salmons said. “The smart money was on the Pacers.”
The ESPN column also points out how William Hill Nevada saw 70 percent of the point spread money put on Indiana. This means that William Hill took a healthy loss here, because they couldn’t balance both sides of the line.
Scott Shelton, who supervises the Mirage sportsbook, said that his company was in a strange position. Indiana covering the spread meant that the Mirage suffered a five-figure loss. But if the Pacers had won the series, then Mirage would’ve booked a six-figure profit.
The good news for online and Vegas sportsbooks is that we’re still relatively early in the 2018 NBA Playoffs. That said, they have more than enough time left to recoup their losses and win money.