What Sharps Think About 2nd Round

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WHAT SHARPS THINK ABOUT NBA'S SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS

The second round of the NBA playoffs gets started Sunday afternoon when the Boston Celtics visit the Miami Heat in a series that has created a lot of buzz here in Las Vegas. Monday Night brings the start of Atlanta/Chicago and Dallas/LA Lakers...which will provide fans and analysts a chance to directly compare the Lakers and Bulls, two teams who might meet for the championship in June.

Let me run through what the sharps (professional wagerers) are thinking about the second round. I'll also include updates of my estimated market ratings that have been running periodically on these pages through the playoffs. Note that home court advantage is usually worth 3 points in the playoffs once the top teams are playing each other. Let's monitor that to see if it holds up after the site switches in Game Three.

MIAMI AT BOSTON
(Estimated Market Ratings: Miami 80, Boston 78)

The Game One opener was Miami by 4.5, which quickly moved up to -5. Some of that was position-taking because the Wise Guys expect the public to bet this series (they've been relatively quiet thus far). The public likes to bet favorites...and REALLY wants to bet the Heat because of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Early money was trying to set up a middle before the public moved the line. Also, any sharp who actually liked the Heat in this matchup would want to bet early because it was pretty likely the opener would be the shortest line they'd see in Game One.

The total has stayed in the 182 to 182.5 range the whole way. Sharps tend to like Unders, but usually wait until after Game One to hit those hard. The first game in a series often sees a faster pace than the others, and the refs will call more fouls early than they will later when they swallow their whistles with so much on the line.

I've dropped Miami back to 80 in my market ratings. They were getting a lot of respect after their first three wins vs. Philadelphia, but lost their mojo in Games Four and Five in terms of their best form. Had the Heat won in an impressive sweep, they'd probably be -6 here. I've lifted Boston because they're starting to look like the team that's been so impressive in the postseason the past few years.

ATLANTA AT CHICAGO
(Estimated Market Ratings: Chicago 79, Atlanta 73)

Chicago's been getting a lot of line respect even though they weren't very impressive vs. Indiana until the finale. Atlanta's been getting almost no respect even though they were clearly better than Orlando when it mattered most. Oddsmakers opened Game One here Chicago -9.5. It quickly fell to -9 and stuck. Sharps didn't expect the public to jump on Chicago because they're still a new playoff team. Squares want to bet on LeBron or Kobe Bryant. Those who wanted to bet on Derrick Rose kept losing money in the Indiana series! Sharps who felt the 9.5 was too high went ahead and moved on the opener.

The total is at 179, and I don't anticipate much of a change unless there's injury news. We could see some very low scoring games in this series because both teams like a slow pace, and Chicago plays great defense. Note that none of the last five games in Atlanta/Orlando made it to 179.

I've only lifted Atlanta to 73 in the market ratings because they're still not getting any line respect. I had them higher than this with my personal numbers in the last round. But, I also know they enjoyed some personnel matchup advantages in that series that won't be in play here. Atlanta may end up looking like a 73 (or worse) in this round.

DALLAS AT THE LA LAKERS
(Estimated Market Ratings: Los Angeles 80, Dallas 77)

Game One opened at -6 and stuck. That tells you the sharps don't like the favorite, or they would have jumped in to beat the Kobe bandwagon. I'm a little surprised there wasn't any position-taking here. That might be because Kobe's got a bad ankle and sharps are afraid squares won't bet him until they know he's at 100% health. I've talked to a few sharps who were impressed with Dallas in the Portland series...and will be looking to pick their spots with the Mavericks here. But, I've also talked to others who think the Lakers will own the inside game. We may see some sharp vs. sharp betting wars in this one as a result.

The total opened at 189.5 and hasn't moved yet. I'm hearing the math guys will like early series Overs if Kobe is ready to go at full speed.

My market ratings still have the Lakers as best in the West (and tied with Miami at 80 for most respected overall). I've moved Dallas up to 77 based on their impressive dismissal of Portland.

Publication deadlines won't allow me to be as up-to-date on the other series as I'd wish in this particular article. Oklahoma City would have a 79-76 edge in market ratings over Memphis in my estimation...but it's possible the Thunder will move up to 80, or Memphis will be kept at 75 because new teams have to earn their respect round by round. It would be 79-78 over San Antonio I think if the Spurs are able to rally back and advance.

Some sharps have Oklahoma City rated best in the West...but some of that fervor diminished when the Lakers looked so good in Games Five and Six against New Orleans.

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