It wasn't easy finding anyone willing to bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves to beat the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Of all the money bet on the Grizzlies-Timberwolves series at BetMGM, 94 percent was on Memphis. That's the highest percentage on any team in the first round. Before Game 1, that figure was 97 percent.
That means there are a lot of nervous bettors after Game 1. The Timberwolves played very well and beat Memphis to open the series. Grizzlies bettors — and there were a lot of them — have to hope that wasn't a sign of things to come.
Grizzlies had a fantastic season
Memphis was a huge favorite to win the series before it started, and that didn't dissuade most bettors.
The Grizzlies were -300 to win the series at BetMGM and still got an overwhelming amount of the money bet on them. The NBA usually doesn't have a ton of upsets in the first round, especially among the top-two seeds.
Memphis didn't seem like a potential upset victim. The Grizzlies were the best team in the NBA against the spread this season. Even when they dealt with injuries, it didn't affect them. Memphis was a good team from the start of the season to the end, one of the few West teams that you could see challenging the Phoenix Suns in a series.
The one issue with the Grizzlies was playoff experience. It's a young team. Last year was Memphis' first playoff appearance since 2017 and it hasn't been out of the first round since 2015.
Maybe that factor wasn't considered enough by bettors, who loaded up on Memphis series bets. Or maybe they just underestimated the Timberwolves.
Timberwolves controlled Game 1
Game 1 was fairly stunning. Anthony Edwards went off for 36 points. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 points with 13 rebounds. The Timberwolves won 130-117 and controlled the entire game. Minnesota looked like the better team, albeit for just one game.
Minnesota had to get into the playoffs via the play-in tournament, but the Timberwolves do have two elite players in Edwards and Towns. That combination gives them a shot to beat just about anyone.
The series odds at BetMGM changed significantly after the first game, which you'd expect when a road team takes Game 1. Memphis went from a -300 favorite to win the series to -140. The Timberwolves have home-court advantage after that win.
There will be bettors who see value on Memphis -140 after Game 1. Perhaps they're right. It was just one game and the Grizzlies had a much better season on the whole. They can take a game in Minnesota, grab home-court advantage back and win the series. Nobody would be too surprised if that happened.
There's just a lot more uncertainty about the outcome after the Timberwolves looked so good in Game 1. A lot of bettors who invested in the Grizzlies before the series started are hoping that first game was just a fluke.