Betting on LeBron James over the last 20 years has usually been smart money. But his Los Angeles Lakers are the 7th seed in this year’s Western Conference standings, and he is an underdog in the first round for the first time in his career.
James has often been a part of teams that have finished near or at the top of the standings. His Cavaliers and Heat teams were routinely the class of the Eastern Conference, often coming in to the postseason as one of the top-three seeds. And even when his team was the lower seed in the matchup, LeBron and his teams were somehow always favorites to win.
LeBron James, Lakers Are Underdogs To Grizzlies
The Lakers are +120 series underdogs against the Memphis Grizzlies in Round 1…
This is the first time in LeBron's career he is an underdog in Round 1 👀
(h/t @johnewing) pic.twitter.com/jUOOI1zKau
— br_betting (@br_betting) April 14, 2023
Things have changed this year. The Lakers are in the playoffs, but it took some serious clawing to even make it as high up as the 7 seed. Los Angeles went 17-7 over the team’s final 24 games just to make it to the play-in tournament, where they had a faced a tough overtime test against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Their reward for climbing the unlikely mountain and achieving their goal of making it to the playoffs? A date with the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been sitting as the second seed in the West for much of the season.
Memphis was thought to be one of the title contenders around the time of the New Year, but things have gotten rocky with both on-court injuries and off-court issues. They’ll lack front court depth after the loss of Steven Adams, but they should be a full go with Ja Morant.
Lakers With Shorter Odds To Win Championship
LeBron enters the playoffs as the all-time postseason leader in:
👑 Games Played
👑 Field Goals
👑 Steals pic.twitter.com/pea6IADMMT
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 13, 2023
In a typical NBA season, the 2-seed would be heavily favored to win the series over the 7-seed. But this is certainly not your typical NBA season. The Grizzlies are favored, but not by much. Their line for the series comes in at -140, while the Lakers are sitting at +120 to advance to the second round.
It is the first time in his career that LeBron James is an underdog in the first round of the playoffs.
Oddly enough, the Lakers have far shorter championship odds than the Grizzlies despite being underdogs to the in Round 1. Los Angeles has the 7th best odds of any team at +1200, and while they are the next team in the listings, the line for Memphis to win the championship is all the way down at +2000.
Game 1 between the two sides is scheduled for Sunday at 3PM Eastern.
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