Bored with betting NBA spreads, totals and money lines?  If you answered yes, then props on the NBA Finals might be just the right medicine for what ails your basketball wagering doldrums.



You can bet on the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 2010 NBA title. And you can bet on Jack Nicholson.

Jack NicholsonYes, the props market is in full swing for the NBA Finals. Bookies have had all week to drum up some betting odds action before Thursday’s series opener, and the explosion of online gambling means that no stone is left unturned.

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The props range from the standard, like the Bill Russell Award for Finals MVP, to this little gem involving the most famous Lakers fan in the world:

Will Jack Nicholson be assessed a technical foul at the 2010 NBA championship?

If you bet “yes” on this prop and Nicholson does get T’ed up, you’ll be handsomely rewarded at +2000. If you bet “no” on this prop – well, you can’t. Only “yes” is being offered, and for good reason: It can’t happen.

There’s an apocryphal story that’s been tacked onto Nicholson’s bio at many websites that he was assessed a technical foul during the 2001 playoffs. Not true. Only players and personnel (or the entire team) can be charged. Unruly fans can be thrown out of the building, though, which is what happened to Jimmy Buffett that year during a basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat.

That’s an extreme example of bad betting value. But it’s also one of the few entertainment-based props that were available at press time.

The market for these exotics isn’t quite the same as the Super Bowl, although propmeister Jay Kornegay told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he first started toying with these alternate lines during the 1990 finals between the Lakers and Detroit Pistons.

“We were making 'over-under' point totals for Magic Johnson and other players for fun,” Kornegay said.

That’s where you’ll find the vast majority of the props for the 2010 NBA finals. Here are the totals for average points per game for the main players:

Paul Pierce 19
Rajon Rondo 16.5
Ray Allen 16.5
Kevin Garnett 14.5
Kendrick Perkins 7.5

Kobe Bryant 29
Pau Gasol 19
Ron Artest 11
Lamar Odom 10.5
Derek Fisher 9

The numbers for the Celtics Big Three are virtually the same as what they’ve generated thus far in the postseason. The differences are with Rondo and Perkins; Rondo is at 13.7 points per game in these playoffs, and Perkins at 10.1 points.

At the other end, Fisher’s total is below his current pace of 11.1 points per game. Andrew Bynum, Perkins’ opposite number, is off the board – perhaps in response to his knee getting drained on Monday, perhaps in response to his inconsistent play on said knee. But Bynum is expected to give Perkins a little more trouble than he’s used to, and the same with Rondo and Fisher.

Unfortunately, we only have one regular-season game between these two teams where all 10 of these players were in action: January 31 at the TD Garden, where the Lakers (-1) pulled out a 90-89 victory on a game-winner by Bryant with 7.3 seconds left on the clock. Rondo scored 21 points that day as Bryant gave him a relatively soft cushion while providing help defense elsewhere. Fisher? Nine points on 3-of-5 shooting.

Bryant (19 points) and Garnett (10 points) were both coming off recent injuries and had substandard performances on offense, so it’s even more difficult to take these numbers at face value. But Rondo’s success is a harbinger of good things to come in this series – which brings us back to the Bill Russell Award. Here are the top contenders for Finals MVP:

Bryant 4-7
Rondo 33-20
Pierce 5-1
Gasol 15-2

Rondo has been acknowledged in the media as the new leader of the Celtics, and since the award is decided by a nine-member panel of media personnel, we already know where their sentiments lie – and we can also dismiss Ron Artest at 50-1 odds for the same reason. Bryant is the reigning MVP winner, and the Lakers have crept up yet again to -185 to win the series.

But allow me to throw in a value pick anyway: None other than Bynum himself at 100-1. This is a highly talented player at an important position on the floor, and he scored 19 points with 11 rebounds in that January contest. It could happen, and at these betting odds, you could buy a courtside seat next to Nicholson.