At just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the heart of downtown Phoenix, a throng of purple-and-orange clad sports fans packed their way into the friendly confines of the FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona retail facility at Footprint Center.
The crowd was there early to beat the rush and place a few bets inside the New York-based operator’s in-arena sportsbook, long before the opening tip of Game 1 between the Phoenix Suns and L.A. Clippers a few dozen feet from the facility’s front door.
Two such patrons were father and son duo, Peter and Leo Hass, who have lived in the Valley for more than 18 years but were making their first trip to the haven of retail sports betting and oversized televisions.
The elder Hass family member said the difference between Sunday’s Game 1 and the duo’s last Suns playoff game (against the Trail Blazers in 2010) is night and day, thanks in large part to the front door Arizona sports betting and the FanDuel facility offers the Suns.
“It's just kind of interesting to see the turn a turn of events in sports in general, because — maybe 10 years ago — [sports betting] was hands off,” Peter told BetArizona.com. “Vegas couldn't have a team and now all of a sudden sports betting is available in almost every NBA arena. So it's definitely a change. And I think it's good for the fans and gets them more into the game.”
Unfortunately, the final result wasn’t good for Phoenix fans. The Suns dropped their playoff debut 115-110 to the L.A. Clippers on Sunday. The teams return to the Footprint Center for Game 2 on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on TNT.
Despite the Game 1 loss, the Suns are 7.5-point favorites on Tuesday in Arizona NBA betting.
A Daylong Buzz In Downtown Phoenix
For Suns staff members like second-year security guard Jeremie Nelson, the vibe inside Footprint Center has reached a new level of excitement.
Much of that vibe shift has to do with the midseason blockbuster acquisition of All-NBA forward Kevin Durant, who has supercharged the Suns’ championship aspirations at Arizona sports betting apps since coming to town in February.
Nelson told BetArizona.com the atmosphere on game nights since Durant arrived has been off the charts.
He pinpointed the game that was supposed to be Durant’s home debut against Oklahoma City in particular, when a pregame slip left ‘K.D.’ with an ankle injury that kept him out of the team’s lineup for more than three weeks.
“There was nothing but ‘K.D.’ chants for 40 minutes straight before the game. I couldn’t hear anything,” Nelson said. “So that was probably the best example I can give you about how much the vibe here has shifted since [Durant] arrived.”
Nelson laid out the reasons why fans of the Suns should spend hundreds of dollars to score highly coveted tickets to a postseason game, while also getting a few wagers in before the final buzzer.
Chief among those were the fact seeing three stars — like Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Durant — is something that doesn’t come around often, meaning fans should embrace their convergence before they go their separate ways.
“Buy tickets because they’re going to the top this year,” Nelson said. “I feel like all the fans here believe it. So, if you’ve never seen a Suns game — you know all the names. Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. To see them all play together, it would be a completely different experience for you.”
BetArizona has Suns fans covered with Arizona sportsbook promos throughout the NBA playoffs.