NBA Cup championship best bets
The NBA Cup final has arrived. The initially maligned and lately celebrated In-Season Tournament concludes Saturday night in Las Vegas when the Lakers and Pacers compete for its first-ever championship.
It's important to note this is considered an extra game and not part of the regular-season schedule, so the Lakers and Pacers will have played 83 games this season, while the rest of the league plays 82. The contest will not count toward regular-season records, and no player statistics will officially count.
Nonetheless, meaningful basketball will be played. Let's get to our best bets for Saturday night's championship.
The In-Season Tournament was tailor-made for a team like the Pacers, a young, exciting playoff team with no real chance to advance deep into the postseason. Indiana has captivated NBA fans with its fast-paced style, which has led them to this point.
The Association is also fortunate that the face of the league over the last two decades ended up in the championship, which will certainly boost ratings.
The Pacers have the NBA's best offense, and while the Lakers have a top-10 defense, their offense can't keep up with Indiana's. Los Angeles' offense ranks in the bottom third of the league. Unless LeBron James unleashes another monstrous night, Indiana's offense will outrun and outscore the Lakers in Sin City.
Pick: Pacers +4
Haliburton under 28.5 points
As phenomenal as Tyrese Haliburton's been, his scoring hasn't been otherworldly. He's averaging 26.9 points this season. Even in his last two tournament games where he led the Pacers to wins, he scored 27 and 26.
It's his command of the game, passing, and clutch shotmaking that's propelled Haliburton to an MVP-caliber start to the season.
While the Lakers allow a ton of points in transition, they have a solid halfcourt defense with stout perimeter defenders preventing penetration. Haliburton will still get his points, but they won't come as easily. I believe the Pacers can win, but it'll be Haliburton's teammates stepping up to lead them there.
Odds: -120 (playable to -130)
Obi Toppin: Over 12.5 points
While Haliburton gets all the credit for the Pacers' electrifying offense - deservedly so - his supporting cast has been just as instrumental to Indiana's start to the season. Obi Toppin is one of the surrounding pieces flourishing in Indiana's system. He's scored at least 13 points in eight of the last 11 games.
Toppin's most frequent scoring play is in transition, perfect for a Pacers team that loves to run. This matchup in particular favors Toppin because the Lakers allow 22.5 transition points per game, the NBA's 12th-highest mark.
Odds: -105 (playable to -125)
Anthony Davis under 2.5 blocks
Anthony Davis is a defensive machine. He averages 2.7 blocks per contest, the league's second-most. However, the Pacers are a challenging matchup. He'll be guarding Myles Turner for most of the game, who's a respectable shooting big.
Turner averages 4.5 attempts per game on 32% 3-point shooting. Indiana likes him to stay on the perimeter to space the floor for the guards to operate. That'll take Davis away from the basket for stretches, leading to fewer block opportunities.
Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @soshtry for more betting coverage.