How Sharps are Betting the NBA Playoff Openers
Richie Baccellieri: How Sharps are Betting the NBA Playoff Openers
I had hoped to provide a lengthy report for you today about how sharps (professional wagerers) had been betting this weekend's action in the NBA Playoffs. But, as I prepare this for you Friday morning Las Vegas time, the story is "how sharps are WAITING to bet the NBA openers." Not much action yet because there's a general preference up and down the card for underdogs at value prices...and the public hasn't had time to hit the favorites yet.
As we go game-by-game in schedule order, I'll include some notes on early betting on the series prices. We begin with Saturday's quadruple-header...
INDIANA AT CLEVELAND: The openers here were Cleveland -8 or -8.5 depending on the site. Sharps aren't going to lay that kind of price with a team that enters the postseason with question marks on defense. Those looking to bet the dog will wait to see if +9 comes into play on game day. That may not be likely because the public has its own questions about the Cavs. Most of the sharps who do bet this game will be on the Pacers at +8.5 or nine if it comes into play. The Wise Guys did hit Indiana on early series prices. The first offshore places up had Cleveland up as high as -1400 or -1300. That's settled down now below the 1000 threshold.
MILWAUKEE AT TORONTO: The Raptors have been painted a solid seven across the board. Oddsmakers anticipated sharp interest in the Raptors because they've been looking like a serious Eastern championship threat since Kyle Lowry returned. Toronto's -400 on the series price, or in that range depending on the store. I've heard a lot of talk already from sharps who are looking to back Toronto over Cleveland in the next round. But, I do think dog money would hit this opener if +7.5 comes into play. This is a high price for a #3 vs. #6 game, particularly with a young dog that won't throw in the towel.
MEMPHIS AT SAN ANTONIO: San Antonio is a solid -9, which is a very high price for a game with such a low Over/Under. The posted total of 190.5 is way below the other games. Memphis has some injury issues, which is why there wasn't a feeding frenzy out of the gate at this high number. I do believe one might start if +9.5 comes into play. That's the story of almost every game this weekend...dog money is waiting to see if they can get a better line. The Spurs are around -1000 to win the series depending on where you shop.
UTAH AT LA CLIPPERS: Looks like a tug-of-war shaping up between the LA Clippers -5 and Utah +5.5. The Clippers have had a betting constituency all season that has stuck with them through thick and thin. Utah gets the respect of old school sharps because of their defense and rebounding. This will be the heaviest best Saturday game in Nevada because of "locals" interest in the Clippers (and, Utah isn't without its local supporters). The series price is right at -200 for the Clippers. Squares see this as a rare "affordable" favorite, which is drawing interest. Utah money will keep that in check because this is a very live dog.
ATLANTA AT WASHINGTON: Possibly a tug-of-war here between Washington -4.5 and Atlanta +5. It's painted on the five now. Stores that tested Washington -4.5 saw money come in on the favorite. Sharps who like the dog will wait to see if the public pushes the number any higher before this early Sunday tip (10 a.m. here in Vegas). Washington is around -220 for the series. My take is that a lot of the "analytics" guys are seeing this as a tighter series than the media is. Reporters love John Wall. Numbers guys love defense. Atlanta has the much better defense but may not be able to score enough to advance.
PORTLAND AT GOLDEN STATE: This line opened at a very high -13.5 or -14 depending on the store, and favorite money still came in! We're now seeing Warriors -14.5 in most spots. Locals are going to support Golden State. And, some of the math guys see the Warriors really lighting up the scoreboard against Portland's soft defense. Some of the old school Wise Guys will take Portland +15 if that comes into play. We talked about this a lot during the NFL season. Many veteran earners will take double digit dogs on principal in the pro sports. Here they're waiting to see how many points they can get. Golden State is around -7500 to advance in spots where it's even on the board.
CHICAGO AT BOSTON: Boston has settled in at -7.5. What's interesting here is how far the series price has fallen offshore. The first numbers up were based more on the seeding than common sense. I even saw -1000 out there. Yesterday most Vegas stores were more around -525 or -550. Now I'm seeing -450 is available. That sentiment eventually has to show up in a game line. I believe many sharps are waiting to see if +8 comes into play from public action. Chicago will be a sharp side in this series if Boston shows any sign of weakness early on.
OKLAHOMA CITY AT HOUSTON: Some in the media were surprised that Houston opened as high at -7 or -7.5. But, the Rockets have been Power Rated with a lot of respect all season. Oklahoma City probably has the league MVP in Russell Westbrook, but may not have enough weapons to spring a series upset. Houston is around -360 to advance. Wise Guy money does come in on the dog at +7.5, and will again if it comes back into play. Not a lot of locals interest in Nevada for these teams...but this should be a heavily bet game last on the card with such marquee value.
See you again next week when these first round series change sites for Game 3. We'll look at how home court is being valued in each matchup in addition to sharp action.
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Thanks for reading. It's great to have meaningful NBA games to handicap where nobody's sitting out with a "DNP Rest" in the boxscore! Enjoy this big holiday weekend!
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