LeBron James A First Round Underdog For First Time In NBA History: Can The Lakers Pull Off The Upset

Zinger Key Points
  • The Los Angeles Lakers are the 7th seed in the NBA Playoffs and were an underdog to win the first round.
  • A look at the history of LeBron James in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

NBA superstar LeBron James has won four NBA Championships in his career, earning them across three teams during his career. To get a fifth NBA Championship in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, James will have to overcome a new first in his career.

What Happened: The 2022-2023 NBA season has been one of the ups and downs for James. The NBA star missed some games due to injury, playing in 55 games, the second-lowest total in his career. During the season, James became the all-time career NBA scoring leader, a feat that will likely last for many years.

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves with the 7th-seed in the NBA Playoffs matching up against the 2nd-seed Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference, which came after winning in the play-in tournament to make the playoffs.

To start the NBA Playoffs, the Grizzlies were favored to win the series at odds of -130 compared to odds of +110 for the Lakers.

This marked the first time that James found himself as an underdog in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

James has a strong first-round record at 14-1 overall, losing his only first-round back in the 2020-2021 season, his last time in the NBA Playoffs after the Lakers missed the postseason last season. The Lakers were the 7th-seed in that playoff run and found themselves favored over the 2nd-seed Phoenix Suns.

Counting the first round and the rest of the NBA Playoffs, James has found himself an underdog in a series a total of 11 times in his 20 seasons. In the prior 10 series with James as a betting underdog, James has a 4-6 record, including a 2-2 record in the NBA Finals as an underdog, according to Action Network.

The good news for fans of James and the Lakers — or bettors backing him — is the Lakers won its first game in the series against the Grizzlies and have now flipped the tables on the betting odds.

The odds of the Lakers winning the series at +110 were actually the third-best in NBA Playoff history according to ESPN.

James held a 3-14 record in Game 1 of playoff series on the road prior to the Lakers winning Game 1 against the Grizzlies.

James holds a 148-115-3 record against the spread in his NBA Playoffs history.

Related Link: New York Sports Teams Make Big Entry In NHL And NBA Playoffs: How Sports Betting Companies And Public Sports Teams Could Benefit 

Betting Odds: After the win against the Grizzlies in Game 1, the Lakers now find themselves as the favorites to win the series at -295, compared to +230 for the Grizzlies on the DraftKings Inc DKNG betting platform.

Game 2, which takes place on Wednesday night (April 19) at 7:30 ET, sees odds of the game being a pick ‘em, meaning no team is favored and each has odds of -110.

The Lakers have current odds of +1100 to win the NBA Championship, ranking sixth among the 16 teams in the NBA Playoffs. The Lakers have odds of +425 to win the Western Conference Finals, ranking third among eight teams.

James is listed with odds of +1600 to win the NBA Finals MVP, ranking eighth among betting odds. James has won the Finals MVP four times in his career.

In Game 1 of the first round, James posted a stat line of 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, which saw his points and assists down from his season average line of 28.9, 8.3 and 6.8 respectively.

In his NBA Playoffs career, James has career averages of 27.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists.

For more on the sports betting landscape and what could be next for popular betting segments and legislation, tune in to the Benzinga Sports Betting Titans virtual event on May 24.

Photo: Shutterstock


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