NBA Finals Preview: Can the King Reclaim His Throne?

The NBA Finals are set to kick off on Wednesday night and will feature at least one team expected to make it far: the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been dominating since the playoff season began, and their supporting cast has delivered when called upon. Players like Alex Caruso, Dwight Howard, and Markieff Morris have all stepped into bigger roles at different points in the post season, and the return of Rajon Rondo has given the Lakers another ball handler, allowing Lebron to play off the ball more.


The Miami Heat have continued to impress since sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the first round. Nobody outside of the Heat organization gave them a chance against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, but Jimmy Butler has always been vocal about the faith he has in his team to compete against anybody.

Jimmy Butler 'not surprised' with Miami Heat Game 3 win against the Milwaukee Bucks | NBA on ESPNwww.youtube.com

Not only did the Heat defeat the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semis, but they disposed of them in just 5 games with the series never really seeming in doubt. Butler gives this young Heat team an identity and leader, but he has often been the focus of criticism as a locker room problem and bad teammate throughout his career. After Philadelphia was knocked out of the playoffs last season by Kawhi Leonard and the eventual NBA Champion Raptors team, surprisingly Jimmy Butler was not brought back for another run.

There had been speculation that Butler had personal issues with the 76ers' two star players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons causing him to seek a new situation, but Butler had denied those claims earlier this year. Throughout his career Jimmy Butler has always done things his way, and his move to Miami seemed intentional. It was a team that needed a superstar and Butler was happy to fill that role for them. Erik Spoelstra is a championship winning coach, and that's exactly what Butler is chasing because he knows that being the best player on a championship team legitimizes himself as one of the league's elite.

The Heat and Lakers both missed the playoffs last season, but the moves each organization made in the off-season have brought them all the way to the NBA Finals just one year later. For the Lakers, they knew what they had in the duo of James and Anthony Davis. Veteran additions like Danny Green and JaVale McGee injected a wealth of playoff experience to the roster, while retaining important pieces like Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso gave them the depth they knew they would need for a deep playoff run.

Miami added Butler, but outside of that the only other player on most people's radars heading into the season was their young power forward, Bam Adebayo. Bam has developed into a star player for the Heat, earning an all star selection this year, and he now serves as the Robin to Butler's Batman. But the cupboard seemed bare in an improving Eastern Conference that included the up and coming Boston Celtics, the 76ers, and defending champion Toronto Raptors.

Enter Tyler Herro, Miami's first round pick in last year's draft, an enigmatic rookie who never seems affected by the pressure of the moment. We've seen Herro take and make big shots for his team all season, and that has continued through these playoffs. Not to be outdone, undrafted shooting guard Duncan Robinson spent much of last season on the bench, but when given the opportunity to get more playing time this season he didn't let it go to waste. Now Robinson has cemented himself in the rotation, and the pairing of Herro and Robinson make up one of the most feared perimeter shooting tandems in the league.

Spoelstra has done a phenomenal job with this team and has expedited the development of many of these young players by simply giving them more opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. It's been true championship coaching performance, as he will be making his fifth NBA Finals appearance this year, putting him sixth all time(!), only behind Gregg Popovich (6), Johnny Kundla (6), Pat Riley (9), Red Auerbach (11), and Phil Jackson (13).

On the other bench will be Frank Vogel, who had varying levels of success as an assistant and head coach in the league before landing in LA. The key to Vogel's system is defense, and the Lakers needed a lot of help on that side of the ball. The result has been better than advertised. Los Angeles finished the season as the third best team in the regular season in regard to defensive efficiency, and they, along with the Heat, have been the most efficient defenses in the playoffs (they are tied).

In a matchup that can be deemed the Blue Bloods against the Mutts, the two sides have a lot more in common than you might think. The defensive prowess of both teams was just mentioned, and both rosters are able to adapt to different types of lineups thrown at them. The Lakers showed in the Houston series that they could go small to defend the Rockets' perimeter shooters, and the Heat displayed their defensive versatility by locking down the paint against Milwaukee and then frustrating the Celtics' talented guards and wing players utilizing a rarely seen 2-3 zone scheme in the ECF.

Offensively both teams look to get to the paint to shrink defenses, eventually leading to passing lanes to open shooters. The attention that players like James and Butler draw when going to the basket has benefitted the spot up shooters on their teams. Both the Lakers and Heat have used this offensive strategy to bury teams and not allow them to make comebacks late in games. It's resulted in both teams flying through their conferences at a rapid pace. The Lakers have won every series 4-1, never really being tested by any opponent. The Heat have gone 4-0 (Indiana), 4-1 (Milwaukee), and 4-2 (Boston).

I expect that this series will be the first time that either side is really tested in this postseason. LeBron James seems focused and understanding of the fact that this may be his best chance at winning another NBA title before his historic career comes to a close. Next season will see the return of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry to the the Warriors, and the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant era in Brooklyn will begin. Not to mention the continued development of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic in Denver and Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic in Dallas.

Jimmy Butler and the Heat play with a chip on their shoulder, and they like being overlooked and underappreciated. There's no doubt that Erik Spoelstra is going to have his team prepared for LeBron and will look to force him to take more jump shots and put him on the foul line instead of allowing easy layups. But something we know about LeBron by now is that he's a shark in the water, the apex predator in the NBA. He's finally got a group together that seems to be clicking at the right time heading into an NBA Finals matchup, something we haven't really been able to say since his time with the Miami Heat when he had Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh by his side hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

I look for the Lakers to get out to a hot start and put Game 1 away on Wednesday night, and at that point LeBron will sense the blood in the water. The experienced group of veterans the Lakers bring into the series should be the deciding factor. Guys like Rondo and Danny Green will be great complementary players when the Lakers need points, and the flexibility they have to match up on Adebayo will likely produce similar results to how they played Nikola Jokic in the WCF.

I LOVE this Miami Heat team, and I expect each game to be competitive and go down to the wire, so it pains me to say I do not expect this series to be. This Lakers team is built to win now, and with the way they have been rolling, I'm taking the Lakers in a 4-0 series sweep.

Until now, there was a void in the industry. An all-in-one prop bet research tool for Over/Under rankings did not exist. Fantasy SP has changed that.

Of course, you could find betting trends on the internet but there wasn’t a place where you could have all the information for every single player on the same page at your fingertips. Well, we wanted to change that. We’ve created the definitive NFL prop bet research tool for pros and newbies alike.

In a typical NFL week, there can be over 1,000 player prop lines available. Traditional player game logs are not optimal for researching player props. Our unique tool allows you to quickly analyze thousands of lines on your phone, tablet, or computer, and find the props with the greatest value. Don’t just bet on the players you like. Become more data-driven with your props research by using Fantasy SP’s Player Prop Over/Under Rankings!

This is the perfect prop bet research tool to make some serious cash. Place informed bets using relevant analytics and increase your chances of seeing your bankroll increase.

All | Pass Yds | Pass TDs| Pass Comp | Pass Att | Rush Att | Rush Yds | Rec | Rec Yds

Unique Features

With our brand-new Player Prop Over/Under Rankings Research Tool, users will be able to filter by tons of critical data points including home vs. away, favorite vs. underdog, player popularity, last few games, indoor vs. outdoor, specific props, specific teams, position rank, opponent rank, and so much more!

Research Prop Bet Betting Example

Okay, enough talk, and let’s get to a simple real-world example of how to use the tool to help you place a bet.

For example, Jared Goff has had some of the most ridiculous home/away splits in 2022.

Goff has a passer rating of 106.9 with 2,217 yards (277.1 yards per game), 20 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions in eight games at home this season. Pretty good, right? On the road, he has a passer rating of 82.5 with 1,387 yards (231.2 yards per game), 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in six games.

As you can see, Goff is averaging 46 more yards per game at home in 2022 entering Week 16. Vegas may try to trick you when Goff is on the road after coming off a massive home game but by using our tool, you won’t be fooled.

Goff has a 5-3 O-U record on his passing yard props at Ford Field this season. While his average line at home on DraftKings is 247 yards, his average result is 277.1 passing yards. Prior to throwing for 250+ yards against the Jets at the Meadowlands in Week 15, he was 2-3 on his passing yards props on the road. His average line on DraftKings on the road was only 10 yards fewer heading into Week 15 yet he averaged a full 50 fewer yards per game (227). This shows a clear pattern that he is much more successful at hitting the over and much more efficient when playing in front of his home crowd. There are countless examples of patterns you can spot using this brand-new prop tool that are even more eye-popping than Goff’s numbers.

How to Find Favorable Prop Bets

The key to placing informed bets is to place bets on clear patterns. Ideally, you want to see a player consistently going over or under. Grab a concise list of potential bets to place and compare to the lines at your favorite operator.

Let’s say you want to place a passing yards prop bet on Tom Brady. You check all the lines at your favorite operator (we suggest Caesars or FanDuel) and need to put his line into context. How often does he go over? What outcomes occur against an easy matchup? What is his average result? How does he do at home versus on the road?

Using our exclusive Over-Under Rankings, you can utilize our premium filters to find out Brady’s historical prop record at home versus the road is even more volatile than Goff’s splits. (This is good and what we want to see.)

At home, Brady is averaging a whopping 307.3 passing yards and has hit the over in six of seven games heading into Week 15.

On the road, while his average line is only two yards fewer (271.2 to 269.2), he has a 1-5 O-U record and is only averaging 239 passing yards per game.

Fantasy SP has just highlighted a very promising prop bet whenever Brady is at home. Take the over. And when he is on the road, it’s a prime spot to smash the under.

Some players also tend to do much better when their team is the favorite such as running backs late in the fourth quarter when their team needs to kill time. Heading into Week 15, Dalvin Cook had a 7-2 O-U rushing yard record when his team was the favorite (79.9 yards per game). Conversely, when the Vikings were underdogs, he was 1-3 (57.8 yards per game). This is why filtering by favorite or underdog can be a critical data point to help you gain an edge at sportsbooks.

You can also filter by the last few games in case a player has begun to heat up or cool off. These filters will help you nail your bets in very specific scenarios. It’s the perfect tool for situational prop betting.

What the Experts Are Saying

Don’t simply trust our word. We provided a free preview to professional bettors and journalists and this is what they had to say:

“I don’t place my player prop parlays until checking out Fantasy SP’s Prop Bet Rankings. This is the only place where I can get an in-depth historical analysis of every player in the League before placing my wagers!”

Matthew Rumack, Professional Sports Bettor

“This tool provides insight that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the sports betting industry. Fantasy SP has developed something truly unique. The premium filters that allow me to figure out how each player has performed in very specific situations are simply next-level. I will not be placing prop bets before using this tool for research!”

Mark Morales-Smith, Senior Fantasy & Gambling Writer

“The features of this prop research tool are simply awesome. It’s easy to use, easy to understand, and incredibly powerful. There is so much data at your fingertips. This is an essential piece to finding player prop betting value.”

Dan Hickman, Professional Gambling Writer

The dropdowns and filters on this tool are what really make this a game-changing feature. If you only want to see the most popular players on the page, simply slide the popularity to 75% or 100%. If you want to see players’ over-under records and their average results for only home games, simply click Home on the dropdown. If you want to see over-under records for players against teams in the bottom 5 at defending that position, simply click Bottom 5 under Position Rank. Not only can you get all of this insight, but the sliders and dropdowns all work interactively with a user-friendly interface so you can find out how a player is doing in a very specific situation. For example, let’s say Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are hosting the top-five San Francisco 49ers defense and are four-point underdogs. To get a much clearer picture of how Prescott has performed in similar situations, you can check off Home, Underdog, Indoor, and Top 5 under Opponent Rank to get his exact over-under prop historical record in this particular situation. If he is 0-3 on his passing yard prop in this scenario, you may want to smash the under.

Wrap-Up

NFL prop betting can be overwhelming but this tool makes it easy to research the best bets for novices and seasoned vets alike. Bettors should not be placing their prop bets before doing the necessary research. Now you can do all that research on one page with Fantasy SP’s Player Prop Over/Under Rankings Research Tool! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Stay tuned for our future article on even more in-depth tips and tricks.

2022 World Cup Best Bets, Team Props, and Futures
2022 World Cup Best Bets, Team Props, and Futures

Picking up where they left off in 2018, the French National Team led by 23-year-old Kylian Mbappe have found their way back into the finals as they look to be the first back-to-back World Cup Champions since Brazil’s dominant runs in 1958 and 1962. Standing between that incredible feat for the defending champions is Argentina, who currently have their superstar, Lionel Messi, in top form. Messi is finding ways to create passes no one can see and he’s done it multiple times, assisting three goals (tied for the most) throughout the tournament. The legend is also scoring goals of his own and is tied with Kylian Mbappe (5 goals) for Golden Boot honors in this year’s World Cup. Regardless, soccer fans around the world are in for a treat on Sunday at 10:00 AM EST as two of the best players in the world face each other for their country’s World Cup glory.

After winning Group D, France defeated Poland in the Round of 16, England in the quarterfinals, and a strong Morocco team in the semis to advance to the Final. On the other side of the bracket, Argentina won Group C and dispatched Australia in the Round of 16. Messi and the Argentinians were then tested in the quarterfinals, needing a penalty shootout to defeat the Netherlands after blowing a late two-goal lead. Finally, Argentina played perhaps their best match of the tournament against Croatia in the semi-finals, winning 3-0. Now the stage is set for a blockbuster finale between two powerhouses featuring some of the top players in the world.

Note (from FanDuel Sportsbook): No team will play at home during Qatar's World Cup. For betting purposes, FanDuel explains that: “Home Team refers to the team listed first, Away Team refers to the second team listed.”

Argentina (-104) vs. France (-112)

Argentina Keys To Victory

Lionel Messi has played incredibly for Argentina throughout this World Cup. He is leaving opposing defenders in the dust, taking on multiple players at once, dragging them away from his teammates, which is opening up the field for his fellow goal scorers. Every time Messi has the ball at his feet, there seems to be more than one threat. Messi is playing just as well as he always has in 2022. He’s served his team as a playmaker and as a goal-scorer in Qatar. He’s also had some help from Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez who’s scored a handful of goals in this World Cup (including two in Argentina’s decisive victory over Croatia). If Alvarez and Messi are able to link up while on the attack, the depleted French defense and midfield could be in for some trouble.

France Keys To Victory

One of the biggest headlines heading into this World Cup Final is the return of French striker Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid star and winner of this year’s Ballon D’Or hurt his hamstring in one of France’s first practices soon after arriving in Qatar. He flew back to Madrid where he immediately completed his recovery work which was set at three weeks from the time of injury. Right now, Benzema is flying back to Doha and could be starting for France in the final. At the moment, France’s HC Didier Deschamps has declined to comment on whether or not he will be including KB9 in the starting lineup. France’s ball movement has been excellent throughout the tournament, but their key to victory against Argentina will be efficient defense. Over the last few games, France’s defense seems to have slowed down. Not only will they need to stop Messi, but they will need to turn defensive stops into counterattacks. Mbappe and Olivier Giroud (four goals thus far in the tournament) will need to be electric on offense and test the Argentinian keeper. Antoine Griezmann may be an x-factor for France as he has three assists in this World Cup and was inches away from scoring against Morocco.

Conclusion

It’s only fitting that Lionel Messi will finally hoist the World Cup trophy in his last World Cup match. Expect him to score a goal and lead his team to victory in a tightly contested battle.

The Pick: Argentina (-104)

World Cup Final Best Prop Bets

Kylian Mbappe: To Score Or Give Assist (+100)

Mbappé has been relatively quiet over France’s last few games. Still, he is the main wing on France’s team who is capable of breaking down defenses through his skillful technique and ridiculous speed. He currently is tied with Messi for the most goals in the 2022 World Cup. If he isn’t able to score in this game, then expect him to at least make an assist. For France to win this one, the 23-year-old will need to have a big game.

Lionel Messi: Anytime Goalscorer (+190)

Messi has stepped up his performance big time this World Cup. If you have watched Argentina play in this tournament, you know how crucial of a role Messi has played in the team’s success. He is tied for the most goals in the tournament with Mbappe and has a great chance of putting the ball in the net at some point during Sunday’s big match. This is a particularly great prop to target since Messi takes all of Argentina’s penalty shots and has converted four-of-five throughout the tournament.

Fantasy SP has worked diligently to bring you next-level sports betting analytics, prop betting tools, public betting splits, and so much more! Become an Edge+ member today!

Calling every sports fan across the globe! The best month for all things sports is here: December. NFL and CFB are getting into the thick of things — I mean, we are finally not seeing Alabama and Clemson in the CFP, not to mention both the NBA and NHL are underway and college basketball just tipped off!

Despite all of these different sporting events going on, the World’s biggest Sporting event is down to the Semifinals, the World Cup.

Although Soccer is the World's most popular sport, it still struggles to gain support in the US. However, every 4 years Soccer takes the country by storm and this year, and these last few games are going to be amazing.

Let us introduce you to your new go-to app, FanDuel Sportsbook. It’s the place to be for not only the usual sports, but for this year's World Cup!

FanDuel Sportsbook is providing a multitude of features with a few market differentiators.

  • Futures:
    • World Cup Winner
    • Who will win the Golden Boot (the award for the top goal scorer of the World Cup)
    • Highest scoring Group
    • And more
  • Popular Markets - outside of the normal Moneyline, Spread & Over/Under lines, FanDuel will also be offering:
    • Anytime Goal Scorer
    • First Goal Scorer
    • Shots on Goal
    • Correct Score
    • Number of Corner Kicks
    • Half-Time Result

Market Differentiators:

  • Tournament Goal Scorer Parlay Builder - build your own tournament-long Goal Scorer parlays with your favorite players from every team.
  • Daily Specials:
    • Highest scoring team of the day
    • Total daily goals
    • Player specials
    • And More!
  • Live Parlays

Out of all the betting apps we’ve used, signing up for FanDuel Sportsbook is also the easiest. Simply download the app and create an account by providing an email, credit card, and SS# — that’s to protect your winnings and ensure you're not a sporting professional.

FanDuel is undoubtedly the best site/app to parlay across multiple sports. It’s designed for bettors at any stage. The clear interface is ideal for beginners and you can make a bet in just a few clicks! It’s complete with a number of betting guides that explain the rules and resources to safely bet.

One of the best parts is that once the game ends, you can cash out your winnings right away. No minimum, no wait.

There’s also the incredible New User Offer: sign up with FanDuel Sportsbook and get up to $1000 in Free Bets if you lose your first bet!

Their app has everything you need — from tutorials to real-time game scores. Get amped for the World Cup with FanDuel Sportsbook. Enhance your Sportsember by downloading the FanDuel Sportsbook app today!

Terms & Conditions: 21+ and present in CO, IA, IL, IN, MI, NJ, PA, TN, VA or WV. New users only. Must wager in designated offer market. $10 first deposit required. $150 max bonus. See full terms at sportsbook.fanduel.com. Gambling Problem? Call: 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI), 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ, PA, IL, VA), TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or visit www.1800gambler.net (WV).