Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 7:00 AM
It may not feature marquee cities or guys you’ve been seeing in TV commercials round the clock for the last several weeks…but the Western Conference Championship series matching the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies could end up being a real classic.
Both teams are playing well. Both teams are relatively healthy at the moment (knock on wood). The betting market can’t decide which is the better team. The first series prices up where near pick-em, suggesting Memphis is the slightly better team overall as San Antonio has home court advantage. Sharps bet the Spurs up to -140, which is more in line with the series value of home court when even teams go to battle.
In other words…this would be a toss-up on a neutral court according to the composite view of the most important market influences…suggesting plenty of drama ahead in both cities.
It’s been a while since we got to run a series through our ringer of key indicators. Let’s do that...
Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 8:00 PM
How will the NBA's West be won this year?
Well, if you're a believer in the San Antonio Spurs - who now are making their eighth trip into the Western Conference Finals since the Tim Duncan Era first began way back in the 1997-98 season (see the chart below) - than you know the ancient-but-still-effective best power forward in league history may not have to be a dominant force a la 2003 or 2005 but he must fill up the stat sheet and play 30-or-so high-quality minutes per game.
But Duncan - a/k/a "The Big Fundamental" - needs point guard Tony Parker to score and dish and he needs key reserve Manu Ginobili (who still plays starter's minutes) to nail some twisting drives to the hoop but most of all the Spurs need to keep their cool.
You see, the Memphis Grizzlies - winners of eight of their last nine games SU (straight-up) in this year's playoffs and 8-3 SU overall this post-season - are fond of banging around their opponents and making things tough in a grind-out style.
Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The Indiana Pacers looked to be in great shape in their second round Eastern Conference series with the New York Knicks. They were leading three games to one, knowing that they were undefeated at home throughout the postseason and had already proven they could win in New York. Suddenly, news of a concussion to starting point guard George Hill cast doubt over the proceedings.
*Indiana doesn’t have the depth to deal with key injuries at this level
*Indiana, in particular, doesn’t have a lot of good ballhandlers
*Guard play is very important when championships are on the line!
There was plenty of cushion when the series margin was 3-1. Maybe Hill would only miss a game. Maybe they could win without him and start preparing for Miami in the Eastern Finals. Once the Pacers took the floor Thursday Night, a cloud of doom appeared over their heads.
*The offense ground to a halt, scoring just 75 points one game after hitting 93 in a home victory the prior game.
Friday, May 17, 2013 at 7:00 PM
The NBA Playoff schedule has created a great opportunity for me to show you how my Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping approaches can be applied to studying a series. I’ll use this late-week slot in the schedule to preview the Memphis Grizzlies/San Antonio Western Conference Championship series that begins Sunday. My early report next week will preview the Eastern Conference Finals that will feature the Miami Heat against the winner of the Indiana Pacers/New York Knicks series.
PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS
When you think of San Antonio, the “big three” of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili naturally come to mind. It’s important to note that the Spurs won Game Six this past Thursday Night when Parker and Ginobili were only 4 of 22 shooting! They have some role players who can fill the void, at least on occasion. Still, the team generally lives and dies in the playoffs based on the contributions (or lack thereof) of those three...
Friday, May 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM
We have a very interesting dynamic in play right now in Major League Baseball where many favorites are throwing pitchers who aren’t particularly overpowering. I’m not saying they’re “bad” pitchers. But, there are a lot of “generic” type pitchers on the mound right now who are laying chalk. If you want to make money in the bases, you need to fade these pitchers!
Why is this happening?
*Oddsmakers are still using perceptions of “good teams” and “bad teams” when making their prices. They haven’t noticed how much parity there is in the Majors right now. Yes, Houston and Miami are horrible. But, for the most part, you have a lot of relatively even teams splitting games with each other.
*Oddsmakers are giving too much weight to home field advantage. We talked about this in the NBA the last time we were together. It’s also true in the bases at the moment. Home favorites are too chalky, particularly when not...
Friday, May 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM
Just thought that you might like to know that prior to last night's Game 6 showdown between the Indiana Pacers at the New York Knicks, the staff here at Jim Sez spent a minute-or-so researching what the odds were to win the NBA's Eastern Conference -and it might surprise you to discover that the Miami Heat (no matter the opponent come) are a stunning 9-to-1 betting favorite to win their next round and than play in the NBA Finals for a third straight season.
Now how about laying $900 to win $100 that Miami will once again capture a conference crown? Hey, who needs it!
You may also note that right here and right now -two days after the mighty Heat disposed of the pesky Chicago Bulls in an at-times rough-and-tumble five-game set -that Miami is a 4-to-1 betting choice to win it all this year (both Memphis and San Antonio are listed at + 300 or 3-to-1 to win this year's NBA crown) and so folks must wonder if there will be any real drama in crowning an NBA king this year or do the odds...
Friday, May 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Adding the Houston Astros to your division is going to automatically reduce the quality of your division to an extreme degree. Houston is a minor league team that will take its lumps this year as they try to rebuild for the future (there is hope for that because their minor league teams are off to a good start this season). What’s surprised many in baseball is how bad the rest of the division is.
Remember as you evaluate the AL West, that those teams have been seeing a lot of Houston!
Let’s run through the group in order of the standings:
*Texas has jumped out to a huge early lead in the division this year. But, they are 5-1 against Houston…and they’ve only played SEVEN of their first 41 games against teams with a winning record! The Rangers have had one of the easiest schedules in baseball…partly because they’re in a collapsing division. Keep that in mind as you handicap this weekend’s huge series with AL Central power Detroit, and over...
Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 9:04 AM
Two down, two to go.
One night after the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder were officially kayoed from this year's NBA Playoffs, we're on the verge of possibly watching two other playoff teams have their seasons end as the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors look to hold off "fishin' season" signs for at least another couple of days.
Here's what is on tonight's menu and what happened last night and note we head into this evening's play with the following spread factoid:
NBA Playoff Betting Favorites are now 34-30 ATS (against the spread) this post-season for a .531 winning rate (yes, both underdogs covered last night's games).
Tonight, it's ...
#3 INDIANA at #2 NEW YORK- Pacers lead series 3-1
There has been a real hue-and-cry in the "Big Apple" regarding the play of Carmelo Anthony who didn't exactly shine in either Game 3 or Game 4 in Indianapolis but one part of Anthony's game that has to change here is this: The Knicks' top scorer (24 points...
Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 7:00 AM
If you watched Tuesday Night’s fifth game of the Golden State/San Antonio series, you saw a very tired Seth Curry stagger through a tough night on both sides of the ball. His constant chasing on defense turned into constantly being beaten. He lost his form on offense, leading to a 1 of 7 night on three-pointers and 4 of 14 overall.
We talked about the role fatigue has played with Kevin Durant in the Oklahoma City/Memphis series in yesterday’s edition of the NOTEBOOK. Obviously Curry is dealing with the same cloud. Interesting that both are pure shooters…with skinny arms…who spent most of their youth working perfecting jump shots rather than practicing defense. Durant’s height gives him an edge because he can shoot over a certain percentage of defenders. Curry has to get himself open looks. San Antonio’s stopped allowing those for awhile now.
STEPHEN CURRY’S SHOOTING THIS SERIES
Game One: 6 of 14 on treys, 18 of 35 overall
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Is it really J.R. Smith’s fault that the Knicks are playing so badly against the Indiana Pacers? He’s stepped forward to take the blame. And, it’s true that he shot poorly Tuesday Night in New York’s Game Four loss on the road. But…
*J.R. Smith was 7 of 22 shooting, yet still had a plus/minus of +5
*Carmelo Anthony was 9 of 23 shooting, with a plus/minus of -18
New York lost the game by 11 points. So, that means they were -16 when Smith was on the bench…and +7 when Carmelo was on the bench. The loss was J.R.’s fault!
Carmelo isn’t an aggressive defender, and gets into foul trouble when he tries to be one. He fouled out Tuesday Night in 41 minutes of action. Carmelo isn’t an aggressive rebounder, snaring only the balls that come to him. He’s tall, and positioned near the basket, so he gets some. But, in a game where defense and rebounding wins championships…he doesn’t do enough to help his teams win games...
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 9:44 AM
Turn out the lights, the party's (probably) over for the Chicago Bulls this evening and you might be singing a similar refrain in Oklahoma City too should the Thunder not be able to figure out how to finish off games.
If you watched the fleeting final moments in both Game 3 and Game 4 in Memphis the past handful of days, well, than you know what we are talking about!
In the meantime, all four of the NBA's Conference Semifinal Round Series could be history come Thursday night now that the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs are on the brink of eliminating their respective foes from New York and Golden State - we'll be into a "Final Four" of sorts soon enough in NBA-land but first let's tackle what's straight ahead tonight and what just happened last night:
#5 CHICAGO at #1 MIAMI - Heat leads series 3-1
Memo to the still-ailing and short-handed Chicago Bulls: Do not expect to receive any sympathy here in Game 5 from the defending champ Miami Heat ... in...
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM
For much of Monday Night’s Game Four of the Oklahoma City/Memphis series, it looked like the Thunder were about to even things up. They jumped to a big 17-point lead in the first half. They were getting offensive contributions from somebody besides Kevin Durant (in addition to Durant’s strong play), and they were winning the battle of the boards…which is always important against the Griz.
But, it came crashing down in the fourth quarter:
*Durant got tired, and started missing shots
*Nobody else stepped up to contribute consistent scoring
*The coaching staff didn’t come up with anything more than rudimentary sets
Memphis rallied to take a lead, then a see-saw finish ended in a regulation tie. Memphis pulled away from tired OKC to vulture a cover with a 6-point win as a 5-point favorite.
Did that end the Thunder season for all intents and purposes? Sure, they’re favorites of -3.5 points in Game Five. But, they’d have to win THREE-IN-A-ROW...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM
There’s probably not much to say about Wednesday Night’s fifth game of the Chicago Bulls/Miami Heat playoff series that hasn’t already been said about any #1 vs. #16 game in March Madness, or any September college football game between Alabama and Nobody Tech, or any boxing or wrestling matchup between the heavyweight champ and a handpicked jobber. Miami is SUCH a heavy favorite that there’s NOTHING to preview!
Even if they get caught napping again…which seems much less likely now that they’re no longer rusty and the Bulls gas tank is stuck on E…there’s no way this becomes a series. It’s scary that some of the studio guys were talking about the possibility of seven games as recently as halftime of the first night in Chicago.
We can at least preview the rest of the playoffs for Miami based on what they’ve been doing well in this series. Let’s dispense with the Game Five formalities first, then get to...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM
TV announcers love talking about home court advantage during the NBA Playoffs. The noise in Oracle Arena out West. The aura of Madison Square Garden in my old stomping grounds in New York. The passion in smaller markets like Oklahoma City or Memphis. Because TV announcers talk about it so much, oddsmakers tend to give home court advantage TOO MUCH credit at this time of year.
This is important to underdog players like WAYNE ALLYN ROOT! If the market is giving us one or two free points (or more), then we can play more underdogs, and we can bet them with more confidence.
Let’s take a quick look at all four current second round series…
GOLDEN STATE VS. SAN ANTONIO
Home court advantage has meant very little in this series. Golden State should have won BOTH of the games played in Texas. You could make the case that San Antonio should have won both games played in California! The Spurs did win Game Three, and blew a sizable lead in Game Four. Even with all the...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM
As we continue working deeper into important concepts from my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, I want to talk today about how the NBA playoffs differ significantly from March Madness and the NFL playoffs.
You’ve probably noticed that NBA lines have stayed fairly stable throughout the postseason. This is important because it means they’re NOT at the mercy of what’s called “recency bias” in the field of analytics.
During March Madness…lines can jump dramatically after a team has a great performance. Think about how much respect Florida Gulf-Coast started getting after their wins. Or, how about the San Francisco 49ers back during the NFL playoffs? When a team plays well on national TV, the lines move.
But, all the games in the NBA Playoffs are on national TV, and they’re staying stable. Why is that? Among the many reasons:
*The public doesn’t bet the NBA! The public is famous for overreacting to what they just...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 7:00 AM
For several minutes this past Sunday, it looked like the San Antonio Spurs were on the verge of taking an insurmountable 3-1 series led over the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs enjoyed a reasonably comfortable scoreboard advantage considering that Steph Curry wasn’t moving or shooting well. Golden State’s body language was poor, and the crowd was on the verge of giving up hope.
It wouldn’t be write to say that Golden State “stormed” back to make it a thriller. San Antonio couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean for much of the fourth quarter or overtime! It only took 84 points at the end of regulation to force the extra period. Golden State won that extra period 13-3 as the Spurs slump continued.
The series is still “on serve.” That means San Antonio is still in the driver’s seat. They’ll be clear favorites on their home floor twice if the series goes seven games. Game Six in Oakland will be near pick-em, which means San...
Monday, May 13, 2013 at 10:30 PM
If the New York Knicks can’t win a game in Indiana this week, then their season will come to an end. The Indiana Pacers stole home court advantage for the playoffs by wining Game One at Madison Square Garden. And, they certainly been dominant in the Hoosier State so far this postseason.
INDIANA AT HOME IN THE PLAYOFFS
Indiana (-7) beat Atlanta 107-90
Indiana (-6.5) beat Atlanta 113-98
Indiana (-7) beat Atlanta 106-83
Indiana (-5) beat New York 82-71
That’s four wins, by victory margins of 17, 15, 23, and 11 points. Sure, New York is better than Atlanta. But, that was accounted for in the Vegas spreads. It’s not like Atlanta was the Charlotte Bobcats! Yet, the Pacers won three blowouts that beat market expectations by 10, 8.5, and 16 points in that series, before almost doubling the spread against the Knicks this past Saturday Night.
And, that Knicks result extended a trend from the regular season in that particular matchup…
Monday, May 13, 2013 at 7:00 AM
We may not yet have seen the straw that broke the camel’s back in the second round NBA Playoff series matching the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzles…but it sure likes like Kevin Durant is one tired camel…and that the Grizzlies have plenty of straw they’re going to keep throwing at him until the battle is over.
In Saturday’s Game Three:
*Durant was only 2 of 6 on three-pointers, one of the classic red flag areas for fatigue because you can see the legs go. His form was off, and bombs kept clanking off the rim rather than ripping the net.
*Durant led the team in turnovers with three, a sign that he’s being asked to do too much to help his teammates score while also getting his own points.
*Durant was 5 of 9 from the free throw line (including two clutch misses very late), which is way below par for a 90% free throw shooter!
*Durant played 46 minutes…which is a virtual guarantee that he’ll be too tired to play like a...
Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 8:00 PM
The media focus on the second round NBA Playoff series matching the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls has emphasized physicality, chippiness, pushing, shoving, and “bad blood.” It’s a shame, because what Miami’s offense has accomplished so far has been pretty unbelievable!
Let’s start with these facts:
*Chicago plays great defense
*Chicago’s head coach is a defensive genius
*Referees have allowed a lot of contact, which is why it’s so chip!
Against that backdrop:
*Miami struggled in the first game of the series, scoring only 86 points. But, it was a classic slow playoff game that only had 90 possessions per side. The Heat were only a little big below par because it was a halfcourt slugfest.
*Miami EXPLODED in Game Two with 115 points over only 92 possessions. That’s 1.25 points per possession which should be impossible in a playoff game against a great defense.
*Miami was in more of a battle in Game Three, yet still scored 104...
Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Before the season began, the Los Angeles Angels were basically co-favorites with the Detroit Tigers to win the American League pennant. They were supposed to win about 91-92 games in the regular season, best in their competitive division…and barely second best in the superior of the two Major Leagues.
Entering their weekend series with the Chicago White Sox (whose finale is being televised Sunday Night on ESPN), the Halos have less than a 10% chance of making the playoffs according to various computer metrics.
How can a team that’s a coin flip to win the league be less than 10% to make the playoffs after just a bit over a month of the season? It takes A LOT of things to go wrong for that to happen! Most of the media is focusing on the slow start of slugger Josh Hamilton. But, that should have surprised NOBODY. He had long stretches if ineffectiveness last year, and now he’s switched from playing home games in a hitting paradise to playing home games in a...
Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 9:42 AM
The first night of college football is 111 days away and opening night in the National Football League 118 days out but the work to get ready for the coming season is underway. At this writing, Alabama is the 5-2 favorite to win its third straight national championship and its fourth in the past five years while the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers the 5-1 co-favorites to win the Super Bowl.
The first night of college football will fall on Thursday, August 29, and will be highlighted by two nationally televised (ESPN) games, North Carolina at South Carolina and Mississippi at Vanderbilt. The NFL begins the following Thursday night, September 5, with the Denver Broncos hosting the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on NBC.
Baltimore should actually be opening at home, but finds itself in Denver as an 8.5-point underdog because of a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles. While the Ravens and the Orioles do not share the same stadium, they do share...
Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 9:20 AM
Tony, Tony, Tony ... you've done it again!
Hey, we haven't uttered those words in a while but San Antonio Spurs mega-star guard Tony Parker was so brilliant in his team's chest-thumping 102-92 win in Game 3 against the host Golden State Warriors on Friday night that we had to shower this veteran dude with major props.
And he wasn't the only one with a vintage turn-back-the-clock performance as Tim Duncan - older than dirt itself - registered a snazzy 23-point, 10-rebound game on Friday and he and Parker merely pick-n-rolled the still-inexperienced Warriors to death!
The $64,000 question now is this:
What's the condition of Parker's left leg that needed some fourth-quarter ice job on the sidelines - he told ESPN's Heather Cox afterwards that it was a "new injury" from an inadvertent kick and he'd get treatment and would be fine -- but what about opposite number Stephen Curry who badly turned an ankle on one perimeter move and showed no great lateral movement in the final five-or-so...
Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The second round NBA Playoff series matching the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers resumes Saturday Night. A new face will be in uniform for the visitors, as Amare Stoudemire returns to the Knicks after a long absence due to injury.
Stoudemire’s play has always inspired debate amongst handicapping circles. Some believe that a dynamic scorer is always a big help at a time when getting the ball in the bucket is at a premium. Stoudemire does have a HUGE contract after all. And, that’s because he was:
A: a scorer
B: a big name that the Knicks could market to their fan base before the Carmelo Anthony trade
But, the world has changed since the Carmelo trade and other acquisitions. Now Amare’s negatives are much more widely known:
*Stoudemire is a horrible defender
*Stoudemire only rebounds if the ball bounces to him
*Stoudemire is a “scorer” because he forces up a lot of shots rather than passing
*Stoudmire develops an attitude when he’s...
Friday, May 10, 2013 at 8:00 PM
If you understand how pointspreads work in the NBA Playoffs, you know that the betting markets have determined that the Memphis Grizzlies are the better of the two teams in their second round series against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.
*Memphis is favored by 5 points at home Saturday
*Oklahoma City was only favored by 2.5 points at home last Tuesday
And, remember that it’s Oklahoma City that’s in the “bounce back” spot off a loss. So, if zig-zag bettors were going to be influencing the line their money would be coming in on the road Thunder. Even with that possible dog support in the mix from old-time bettors, Memphis is laying more at home than OKC was.
If you assume home court advantage is usually worth 3.5 to 4 points in the NBA Playoffs (sometimes more given the adjustments being made in Knicks/Pacers and Spurs/Warriors), then Memphis clearly gets the nod for superiority.
Is that true? Is the #1 seed in the West...
Friday, May 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM
It's a case of "even steven" all the way around in these NBA Playoffs as all four of the best-of-seven sets currently are knotted at a game apiece - but what might we expect in these all-important Game 3's that come our way tonight and tomorrow?
We'll dig into the Game 3 previews for this evening's twin-bill - that's Miami at Chicago and San Antonio at Golden State - and also check out tomorrow's action as it's Oklahoma City at Memphis and New York at Indiana but first let's deliver our up-to-the-moment NBA Playoffs Pointspread Chart while entering tonight's tilts:
NBA PLAYOFFS POINTSPREAD CHART
(thru Thursday, May 9)
Friday, May 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The betting markets in Las Vegas and offshore never accepted the Golden State Warriors as being superior to the Denver Nuggets…even as the new kids on the block were covering EVERY single pointspread in the series!
Golden State was seen as inferior even though:
*They led by 12 points on the scoreboard after two games in Denver
*They led by 28 points on the scoreboard after four games (two at each site)
*They led by 25 points on the scoreboard after six games (three at each site)
Golden State’s average performance vs. Denver was a 4-point victory. That’s not one or two fluke victories. That’s a 4-2 series triumph while establishing a consistent advantage. Regardless of what everyone’s Power Ratings had said before the series (where apparently the whole world didn’t realize the difference that having a healthy Andrew Bogut makes), the clear current reality was that Golden State was better than Denver in terms of “playoff”...
Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Heat Check! If there were any doubts about the focus and intensity of the defending World Champion Miami Heat after they lost their series opener to the Chicago Bulls…they were erased in the 115-78 demolition the basketball world witnessed in Game Two.
Miami’s better than everyone else in the league. And, their PEAK is MUCH higher than anyone else in the league can reach when everything’s clicking. They could have won that game by 50 if they wanted to.
We’re not going to suggest that Miami can do this on command. Chicago has a horrible bench, and has been playing shorthanded anyway. The point to remember is that they will beat almost everyone in the East comfortably unless their shots aren’t falling. When the shots are falling, they’ll DESTROY almost everyone in the East.
We’ll find out in the next round if either Indiana or New York has what it takes to slow down this juggernaut. Right now, Chicago is focused on these keys in hopes of...
Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 7:00 PM
We’ve talked a lot already about the key fundamentals for picking NBA Playoff games. The league itself has created a new dynamic for Advanced Sports Bettors and Handicappers to consider with the bizarre way they’ve scheduled the second round matchups.
For example, Golden State and San Antonio will be playing an up-tempo series every other day through the first six games. Indiana and New York can basically take a Caribbean vacation between games in the early part of their matchup, before the schedule then goes every other day for the last three games.
Allow me to run through the remaining schedules for the four second round series…
There’s only one schedule break here…as the Heat and Bulls get both Saturday and Sunday off before picking up again Monday. Having a weekend off could help Chicago recover from their brutal recent schedule, and may allow Luol Deng to return to the court. Miami...
Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 4:45 PM
It’s amazing how many teams that the betting markets have been WRONG about in Major League baseball early in the 2013 season. All the research that’s done. All the power of modern sabermetrics. All the combined brainpower of experienced oddsmakers and “seen-it-all” Wise Guys…and you still have a six-wee start that has easy money all over the schedule.
The following teams were supposed to contend for the playoffs, but are currently in LAST PLACE in their divisions after horrible starts.
*Toronto: The Blue Jays made offseason moves that supposedly had turned them into the best team in the sports toughest division. Instead, 2013 has been a DISASTER so far, as the team has clearly been the worst team in the division, and has taken a few steps back from where they were last year.
*Los Angeles Angels: Only Detroit was projected to win more games than the Halos in the American League this season. Instead, the starting pitching has...
Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 8:50 AM
Just call the defending NBA champion Miami Heat "fightin' mad".
Last night's lay-down-the-law 115-78 walloping of the frisky Chicago Bulls by the all-business Heat not only turned out to be Miami's largest margin of victory in a playoff win - and the largest loss in Chicago's rich post-season history - but it painted a real-life picture of what NBA life can be like when LeBron James and Company are not in the mood to mess around.
Heck, last night's Game 2 tilt was barely moments old when Miami G Dwyane Wade fired the ball in anger at a rather startled Marco Belinelli after a hard foul and so the Heat proceeded to get mad and than get even - thanks in large part to six technical fouls rung up on Chicago (including the ejections of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson) to go along with the three "T's" called on Miami.
Gotta a feeling that tomorrow's game at the United Center will be closely watched by the NBA big-wigs (including Commissioner David Stern)?
So, as the NBA takes an evening off...
Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 7:00 AM
There are two teams in Major League Baseball right now who are off to very good starts…but are actually even BETTER positioned than the media and the markets have realized. Because the NBA Playoffs are taking a day off, this seemed like the perfect time to clue you in to a pair of teams who are offering line value now…and could continue to do so if the market refuses to catch up.
Heading into Thursday action…
*The ST. LOUIS CARDINALS lead the NL Central, having won the race for “first to reach 20 victories” in the whole National League. That’s good enough on its own. But, the Cards have played at a high level despite playing 21 of their first 33 games on the ROAD! They have a strong record, but have 12 extra home games coming up!
It’s far too early to call the Cardinals a lock for the playoffs. Plenty of time for injuries to occur, or bad luck to hit. But, out of the gate, St. Louis is playing better than was even expected of...
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Know something funny about this year's NBA Playoffs?
Just when you think you have things figured out, you realize that you don't!
This past Monday night when the Eastern Conference Semifinal Playoff Series between the Chicago Bulls versus the Miami Heat got started and when the Western Conference set between the Golden State Warriors at the San Antonio Spurs got underway, we basically dismissed 'em as blowout Game 1's and thought about alternative TV viewing for the night.
Hey, the Bulls' gutsy 93-86 win in Miami was rub-your-eyes stuff but it had nothing on the Spurs' scintillating 129-127 double-overtime win against gritty (but mistake-prone) Golden State.
Simply put, it was the best night of these NBA Playoffs -no doubt about it!
Now we'll see what Game 2 of both Bulls-Heat and Warriors-Spurs brings to the table this evening.
Here's our quick-hitter previews of the Wednesday night games:
#5 CHICAGO at #1 MIAMI -Bulls lead series 1-0
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Our first look at the Golden State/San Antonio series here in the NOTEBOOK gives us a chance to review one of the best playoff games in recent memory. Golden State pretty much had things wrapped up with a 16-point lead and only four minutes to go. But, their own decision that it was wrapped up caused a catastrophic chain of events that led to stunning loss.
*Klay Thompson fouled out because he saw no need for defensive caution when leading by so many points. That proved to be a killer because Seth Curry eventually lost his shooting legs because he had to play 58 minutes!
*Jarrett Jack took the initiative to try and lead Golden State’s offense down the stretch, which just led to terrible passes and poor shot choices. Without Thompson, the Spurs defense was able to focus on the most obvious scoring threats…and those guys were tired!
*Panic set in teamwide, just as it had done in a virtually identical situation against Denver last week. The only difference here was that...
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 9:00 PM
No matter how much respect you had for the Chicago Bulls and what they’ve accomplished with a sick, tired, injured roster…there were very few people on the planet who thought they could come out and WIN the first game of their series with the Miami Heat.
*Miami was as rested as rested gets, having finished off a sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks long ago.
*Chicago was as tired as tired gets, having finished off a seven-game series upset of the Brooklyn Nets just two days earlier.
*Miami KNEW they couldn’t take the Bulls lightly, because one of their only two losses in the second half of the season came against that team.
*Miami is the freaking world champion!
Maybe the Heat would get lackadaisical and fail to cover the high 13-point spread. There was just NO WAY a team that was 41-2 their last 43 games was going to get knocked off at home by Klinger, Radar, and the rest of the M*A*S*H* unit.
Final Score: Chicago 93, Miami 86
Which brings us to Game Two, where...
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Throughout the calendar year, I’ve been emphasizing to you the importance of recognizing PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in your handicapping process. This is true in ALL sports, and is the single most important key in my view toward beating the Las Vegas line. I appreciate that so many of you have given me the chance to prove that to you during college football, pro football, March Madness, and now the NBA Playoffs.
It’s become clear in the past few days that we need to tweak “GameBREAKERS” into “GameWINNERS” because there is a skill to producing when it matters when everything is on the line in the NBA Playoffs.
*Stephen Curry may be one of the best playmakers of all time during by the time his career ends. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as dynamic a long range shooter in my lifetime, and I’ve been handicapping pro basketball since before many of you were born. That being said, he has yet to show he’s a GameWINNER in crunch...
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 2:00 PM
I can assure you that THE KING OF UPSETS was not surprised to see the mainstream media up in arms over the number of shockers and near-shockers in the opening games of second round NBA Playoff action. The media ALWAYS overrates favorites, and always assumes things will be easy.
Well, things WEREN’T easy for ANY of the second round favorites in their series openers:
*NEW YORK was crushed by Indiana in my old stomping grounds of Madison Square Garden. (I was born as a true S.O.B. in Mt. Vernon, NY…son of a butcher!). They looked like the inferior team all day, rather than the 5-point favorite people were expecting to cast. If you believe that “defense and rebounding wins championship,” then it’s the Knicks who now feel like the heavy underdog in this series.
*MIAMI was absolutely stunned by Chicago Monday Night, as the walking wounded Bulls continue to inspire a nation with their gutty play. It’s still hard to see Chicago as a true Cinderella...
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Throughout the majority of Sunday’s series opener in the Memphis Grizzlies/Oklahoma City Thunder matchup in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, you got the sense that the road underdog was the better team. Memphis was moving the ball more effectively. Memphis was playing better defense. Memphis was making more treys. It was as if they had crowned themselves as the new #1 seed in the West because they were peaking at just the right time.
Then Kevin Durant reminded everyone who the best player in the West is…as he lead the Thunder from double digits down in the second half off the way to a 93-91 victory.
Where does that leave us heading into Game Two? Home court advantage is worth SOMETHING. Typically 3-4 points in the NBA Playoffs. Sometimes more. Since Memphis only lost by a deuce, that suggests they’re still the better overall team in the matchup because Russell Westbrook is on the sidelines. Can Oklahoma City win a game on the road? Can Memphis fix what went...
Monday, May 06, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Gotham is reeling aft the New York Knicks lost their third game in the last four outings Sunday in their NBA Playoff second round series opener against the Indiana Pacers. Fans are growing impatient. And, the media is starting to blast a collection of players who look like they turned off their engines after jumping to a 3-0 first round lead against Boston.
Since taking that big 3-0 lead…
*New York fell behind Boston by more than 20 points in the fourth game, only to “rally” when the Celtics couldn’t make a basket through the bulk of the fourth quarter. The Knicks were an abysmal 31 of 90 from the floor in that game, while making 15 turnovers.
*New York lost AT HOME to shorthanded, and OLD Boston in Game Five. They were favored by nine points and trailed the bulk of the game. It’s one thing to lose a close game in a natural flat spot. No GOOD teams lose at home in obvious bounce-back spots against longtime rivals! There was an extenuating...
Monday, May 06, 2013 at 6:40 PM
It is pleasing and profitable to be crushing the numbers day after day in the NBA playoffs and I do hope you have been with me on my current run. I closed out the last week of 1st round play up 325 units and with my highrollers who bet $100-per-unit up $21,750 and then took off the semifinals Sunday again right where I left off - winning two 25-unit plays with underdogs Memphis and Indiana. That added another 50 units and another $5,000 to last week's winning run - and that means a profit of $26,750 over the past eight days.
Just in case you think the winning is only for highrollers, may I remind you those betting just $10-per-unit over the past eight days are up $2,675 - and that ain't chicken feed, my friend.
It always amazes me that many bettors run and hide when the NBA season begins, ignoring this giant profit center altogether, and then really ducking out on the supposedly even more unbeatable playoffs. They are victims of a longstanding mindset among legions of old-time...
Monday, May 06, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Back as promised to look at how sharps are betting Monday’s second round NBA Playoff openers featuring Chicago at Miami and Golden State at San Antonio. A frustrating postseason continued for sharps on Sunday when they’re interest in Memphis (+) and the Over, New York (-) and the Under only led to a 1-3 mark. We will once again temporarily discontinue the daily market reports after today until we see a combination of aggressive and successful play from the Wise Guys. Over/Unders in particular have caused them some headaches. That used to be their bread and butter!
Sharp action as of press time in Monday’s doubleheader…
7 p.m. ET: Chicago at Miami
Opening Line: Miami by 11.5, total of 186
Closing Line: Miami by 11.5, total of 187
Oddsmakers were slow to post an opener in this one because they wanted to wait and see if Luol Deng would be able to make the trip. All reports suggest that he won’t be available. So, the market opened high and stood...
Monday, May 06, 2013 at 10:04 AM
The NBA Playoffs are one full round- plus two games- in the record books as we begin a new week and here's the skinny: Three teams that were first-round post-season underdogs have survived-and-advanced in namely the Golden State Warriors (+ 350 against Denver), the Chicago Bulls (+ 115 against Brooklyn) and the Memphis Grizzlies (+ 140 against the Los Angeles Clippers) and there are no teams left standing from the city of Angels and now just one pro hoops team left from New York City.
Plus we're venturing deeper and deeper into this post-season without some superstar talents as the aforementioned Bulls continue to muddle on without Derrick Rose- but will we see him at all here against four-time NBA MVP LeBron James and the Heat?- and the OKC Thunder remain a good but not great team without mega-star point guard Russell Westbrook.
No doubt both of these teams are a tad fragile these days except the Bulls go into their series "playing with house money" while Kevin Durant and Okie...
Monday, May 06, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The San Antonio Spurs have been resting so long that it seems like a crime. The four teams who played Sunday in the NBA Playoffs were all coming off Friday Night Game Sixes. San Antonio didn’t have to play over the weekend…and had several days off after sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers. Golden State had the weekend off as well, but did have to battle through six tough games with Denver (three of which came at altitude).
Given the age of their key players relative to the rest of the field, San Antonio can use rest breaks like that more than anyone. It’s exactly what they need to keep up with the young legs and energy of the feisty Warriors.
We know it’s youth and pace vs. age and experience in Warriors/Spurs. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S gauntlet of indicator stats can tell us to flesh that out even more…
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
Golden State: 20-27
San Antonio: 31-17
Golden State struggled vs. quality through the...
Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 7:00 PM
As inspiring as it was to watch the shorthanded Chicago Bulls play their hearts out to upset the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, you got the sense through the whole series that the eventual winner was going to get CRUSHED by the Miami Heat in the second round.
Chicago’s running out of bodies. Chicago’s running out of gas. Chicago has limited offense when facing good defenses (which wasn’t clear vs. Brooklyn because the Nets were incredibly passive inside the arc). Chicago could definitely “hurt” Miami. Chicago might even “scare” Miami. But, Could Chicago actually beat Miami?
Let’s run the game through our gauntlet of indicator stats and see what we find…
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
Miami had a great record vs. quality this year…and some of those losses came on the road when they were just pacing themselves for the long haul. Chicago had a losing...
Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 8:00 AM
We’ve backed off the daily market reports because sharps had become very conservative in the latter stages of the first round. Their longtime strategies weren’t finding success to the degree that had been expected. But, now that we have NEW series about to start…the Wise Guys are back in action at what they considered to be soft openers.
Let’s take a look at how sharps have been betting Sunday’s doubleheader.
1 p.m. ET: Memphis at Oklahoma City
Opening Line: Oklahoma City by 4, total of 185
Closing Line: Oklahoma City by 3, total of 186.5
Oddsmakers had to make an educated guess about what the absence of Russell Westbrook would mean when the Thunder were matched up against a top contender. Was OKC still better than Memphis? Had OKC fallen below San Antonio and Memphis in the Power Ratings? Home court advantage has been right at four points through most of the playoffs this year. Oddsmakers decided that these teams were basically even....
Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Both the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks finished off their first round series Friday Night…winning on the road against Atlanta and Boston respectively. They’re both now back on the court in a different city less than two days later. Who’s best positioned to thrive in those trying conditions?
Let’s run the matchup through our gauntlet of key indicator stats. We used these to preview first round matchups two weeks ago. And, we’ll continue to use them in our preview reports through the postseason. We appreciate how many of you visited regularly for the March Madness previews. The more you understand how various teams win (or lose), the better your basketball picks are going to be!
Let’s jump right in…
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
New York: 23-20
Both teams were disappointments vs. quality. In fact, those are HORRIBLE records for teams seeded #2 and #3 in a conference. Both the Pacers and Knicks were very...
Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 10:30 PM
The Western Conference playoff race is now wide open because the Oklahoma City Thunder have fallen back to the pack with the loss of Russell Westbrook. They struggled to shine vs. Houston even though they survived the first round. Now they’ll have to deal with a brutal physical challenge when the resurgent Memphis Grizzlies come calling.
Is Memphis now “the team to beat” in the West? They’ve played at a very high level since sending Rudy Gay to Toronto, eliminating the anvil that had been killing their offense and chemistry. They just won four-in-a-row from Chris Paul and the Clippers. They’ve established playoff superiority over San Antonio in recent memory. Maybe Sunday is the day Memphis makes a statement about a championship run!
Or, maybe it’s the day Oklahoma City reminds everyone that they’re still a #1 seed, and home court advantage is a powerful edge in the postseason.
Let’s run the matchup through JIM HURLEY’S...
Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 8:39 AM
Let's get one thing straight here, ladies and gentlemen:
The good folks in the NBA offices on Park Avenue in New York City really were salivating at the thought that there would be a bevy of Game 7's to show you this weekend but - and by now you're well aware of it - all the teams leading three-games-to-two in their first-round series won on Friday night past and the fact is there wasn't even a whole lot of drama in those results as the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies won their Game 6 bashes by a per-game average of 9.5 points per game.
No buzzer beaters.
No sweaty palms in the last minute-or-so of any of the games.
The truth of the matter is the Game 6 winners on Friday night all went about their business in different ways - the Knicks, for example, charged out of the proverbial starting gate with a 21-5 lead in Boston and eventually dunked the Celtics despite a gallant second-half comeback try - while Oklahoma City...
Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 7:00 AM
If you had to choose a first round series this year that you wanted to go seven games, it probably WOULDN’T be Bulls/Nets! Both have had long stretches of poor offensive play. Neither team knows what to do with a late lead if it’s close. You don’t get the sense that either will have much of a chance to be meaningfully competitive against Miami in the second round.
And…yet…it’s still a great battle if you like tough-as-nails underdogs who refuse to give up. The Chicago Bulls were seemingly down to a waterboy and the team’s travel agent in the last five minutes of Game Six, yet still almost came back and forced overtime despite injuries and illness. Toughness personified, particularly in the form of Joakim Noah who continues to battle plantar fasciitis.
The Nets? Not so much. Anyone would pale in a “toughness” comparison to the Bulls right now. This series has been there for the taking since Game One. Only now is Brooklyn...
Friday, May 03, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Saturday brings our first GAME SEVEN of the 2013 NBA Playoffs when the Chicago Bulls visit the Brooklyn Nets. I’ve been picking winners in dramatic sports events for more than 25 years out here in Las Vegas. I wanted to take a moment to explain to you some of the keys to finding the right sides and totals to bet.
*First, remember that teams get CONSERVATIVE when survival or advancement is on the line. That’s true in basketball and baseball, the only sport where best-of-seven’s happen. But, you also see it late in close games in the NFL playoffs or March Madness. Every possession matters when the number of possessions is about to run out. Know which teams are best at protecting the ball. Know which teams are the sloppiest. You never hear champions say “turnovers were killing us.”
*Second, don’t bet on teams who thrive on cheap points off of fast breaks. You don’t get many of those in a Game Seven. The game slows way down. Offenses play it...
Friday, May 03, 2013 at 2:30 PM
As I’ve been watching, handicapping, and betting the NBA playoffs the past two weeks, one thing has really jumped out at me that we need to incorporate into our Advanced Sports Betting process.
In addition to studying GAMEBREAKERS and THE MOTIVATION FACTOR, we need to place a special emphasis right now on teams who have what I’ve decided to call “The Warrior Mentality.” The Golden State Warriors just finished off a first round upset of the Denver Nuggets with peak effort and intensity, spurred on by a head coach who kept them on point during timeouts. So, that’s a fitting title.
I’m not suggesting that only Golden State has a warrior mentality. You saw it with the Chicago Bulls Thursday Night, even though they ultimately lost and failed to cover against Brooklyn. Racked by injuries and illness, that Bulls team had no right to keep it as close as they did.
TEAMS WITH “WARRIOR MENTALITY” THUS FAR
Friday, May 03, 2013 at 8:00 AM
It’s always dangerous to draw conclusions about an NBA Playoff series after the first game. There’s no better example of that than this year’s Memphis Grizzlies/Los Angeles Clippers series that could end Friday Night. The Clippers won the first game 112-91. Since then, the Grizzlies have covered four straight, won the last three, and are now decent-sized favorites to finish things off in six.
*First of all, Memphis went back to hustling on the boards. Somehow, this great rebounding team was squashed 47-23 in rebounding in the series opener. Memphis is +29 in rebounding differential since then. That means they’re denying second-chance points to the Clippers, and earning them for themselves.
*Secondly, the team has done a better job of avoiding foul trouble. That can be tough in a physical series because the refs want to keep things under control. Memphis put the Clippers on the line for 31 attempts in the series opener. Since then, it’s...
Friday, May 03, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Wow…even if you valued Russell Westbrook as a league superstar…it was hard to imagine Oklahoma City falling apart to THIS degree when he was lost for the season with a knee injury. They were supposed to have versatility. They were supposed to have a bench. And, they were supposed to at least coast by the #8 seed Houston Rockets who closed the regular season in a slump.
*Oklahoma City barely survived Game Two at home, where Westbrook played the second half hobbled.
*Oklahoma City was fortunate to win Game Three in Houston when Kevin Durant got one of the luckiest three-point bounces the league has seen on a late bucket.
*Oklahoma City lost Game Four in Houston even though the Rockets only scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
*Oklahoma City was badly outplayed on its home floor in Game Five this past Wednesday Night, with body language suggesting they had lost all of their confidence and swagger.
*Oklahoma City seemingly has no idea how to run a...
Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 9:00 PM
The New York Knicks made the huge mistake of assuming their first round series against the Boston Celtics was over after they jumped to a 3-0 lead. It’s true that no NBA team had ever rallied from that size deficit to survive. But, there’s always a first time. And, it’s not like the proud Celtics have a history of throwing in the towel.
New York played poorly for much of Sunday’s fourth game in Boston. J.R. Smith had been suspended. The team was shooting poorly. But, a late collapse from the aging, tired Celtics put a sweep within reach. The Knicks missed almost every shot they put up over the last four minutes…failing to finish off the job.
No problem. Game Five was in New York! That would be a piece of cake with Smith returning to the scene of earlier series victories by 7 and 16 points. Well, Boston had been rejuvenated by their Sunday win, refreshed by having an extra day off, and super-motivated by the nonchalant way the Knicks players approached...
Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 7:00 PM
It’s become rare in modern pro basketball to see a series where there’s NEVER a close game! The distant past saw the occasional series where home teams won blowouts…and the visitors never could figure out how to overcome their road issues through a seven-game stretch. That was when travel was brutal, and officials tended to play to home crowds.
These days…players travel in relative luxury…and referees, if anything…tend to officiate in a way that makes games closer. They want to show they won’t be intimidated by home crowds. If you believe in conspiracy theories, you may choose to consider that the league wants more compelling games and encourages its officials to help out trailing teams.
There aren’t any conspiracies happening in Hawks/Pacers! Through five games, the home teams have won by 17, 15, 21, 11, and 23 points. Not a single thriller in the bunch. Very few stretches of second half basketball where it even looked like...
Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 9:00 PM
It wasn’t that long ago that Brooklyn and Denver seemed like locks for the second round. The Nets crushed Chicago 106-89 in Game One of their Eastern Conference series, causing many pundits to assume a sweep might be at hand. Denver was a prohibitive favorite over the Warriors in the West before the series started…and then they went out and won Game One.
What a difference 10 days can make!
Thursday Night, both series favorites are staring elimination in the face on the road after dropping three of their last four games. Yet, both know that they will be strong home favorites this weekend if they can survive Thursday. Brooklyn would be a favorite of about six points over Chicago, Denver about 7-8 points over Golden State in projected seventh game finales.
So, truly a GUT CHECK situation for all four teams on the floor Thursday evening. Can the Nets and Nuggets stay alive? Can Chicago and Golden State get the job done at home to set up second round series with Miami and...
Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Instead of picking out one game and going in depth…let’s update the math from all three series that are in action Wednesday Night. We have a TV Tripleheader of Game Five action. Atlanta and Indiana are knotted up at two games apiece in a series that’s seen nothing but home blowouts. New York and Oklahoma City will try to wrap up their matchups with Boston and Houston respectively on their home floors, enjoying 3-1 series advantages entering the night.
We’ll take the games in schedule order…
7 p.m. ET BOSTON at NEW YORK
Vegas Line: New York by 8, total of 180.5
New York Leads 3-1
The Knicks would have finished off a sweep if Carmelo Anthony hadn’t missed every jumper and free throw he took in the last three minutes of regulation this past Sunday. They are favored by eight tonight, on a floor where they’ve already won by 7 and 16 points in this series.
Average Margin: New York by 9.3 in regulation
Average Total: ...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 4:30 PM
We’ve been talking a lot about the NBA Playoffs in recent days. I wanted to pop in with some MLB coursework because a certain element of Advanced Sports Betting has been very profitable right out of the gate here in the 2013 season.
PITCHER INJURIES are looming very large over the daily schedule. Now, I’m not suggesting pitchers are falling like flies. But, we have many pitchers who are either battling through nagging injuries, returning from past injuries, or struggling with velocity or mechanics in a way that suggests they’re trying to hide an injury. These pitchers are consistently being mis-priced by Vegas oddsmakers, who generally post a line based on a pitcher’s career norms.
Let’s run through those categories one by one:
These are now very easy to follow because internet media is full of team-by-team reporting, AND fantasy baseball reporting. If a pitcher had a stiff neck, or soreness in his shoulder, or stiffness in...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 2:15 PM
It’s harder in the NBA for Cinderella stories to develop because of the best-of-seven playoff format. But, I have to say that the Golden State Warriors are shaping up as a potential Cinderella story that could last several weeks through the brackets.
And, it’s not out of the question that Golden State could actually win the West!
Why do I say that? Why would WAYNE ALLYN ROOT suggest that a #6 seed in the brutal Western Conference is actually capable of advancing all the way to meet Miami in the League Finals?
*First, this team is better than a #6 seed. Andrew Bogut can be a force in the paint on both sides of the ball when healthy. He hasn’t been healthy much this year. You can see what a difference he’s made vs. the Nuggets so far. Golden State WITH Bogut is arguably a top four seed. Golden State has Bogut…which means rebounding, internal defense, and great passing to a collection of sharpshooters.
*Second, the rest of the West is...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM
We’re going to take some time away from our daily reports about sharp action in the NBA Playoffs…because the sharps are passing so many games! The Wise Guys have posted indifferent results to this point in the proceedings, and are generally thinking conservatively until we get to later rounds.
Among the reasons:
*Historical tendencies aren’t playing out very well in recent days…and many sharps are long time bettors who trust those historical tendencies. For example, it’s generally a sound strategy to take the straight up loser of Game Three against the spread in Game Four. In the past few days, the Clippers, the Lakers, Denver, Brooklyn, Indiana, and Milwaukee all FAILED to cover in that spot. Only Houston and Boston scored on the bounce-back…and those teams were both in position to lose in the final moments.
*On totals, the historic tendency for scoring to slow down hasn’t been happening either. You just watched all three Monday games...
Monday, April 29, 2013 at 9:00 PM
The Denver Nuggets are in a lot of trouble. They’re not officially toast just yet in their first round series against the Golden State Warriors. Trailing 3-1 is surmountable if you’re the superior seed…which means two of the last three games would be at home if you can keep winning. But, there are quite a few problems that don’t have a ready solution.
*Denver’s defense has found no way at all to slow down Golden State’s offense beyond hoping that they miss! They’ve already caught a few breaks in that David Lee was lost to injury, Stephen Curry has been playing on a bad ankle, and Klay Thompson hasn’t had the kind of hot runs that he’s capable of. Yet, they’re still allowing a bunch of open looks on three pointers and a very high shooting percentage on two-pointers. Defense wins playoff games…and Denver’s defense is lost.
*You often see us pair up defense with rebounding…as in “defense and...
Monday, April 29, 2013 at 1:45 PM
Only two teams have been eliminated one week into the first round of the NBA Playoffs (Milwaukee and the L.A. Lakers), so we still have active weeknight schedules in the coming days. Monday brings us another tripleheader…with Game Five in Chicago/Brooklyn followed by Game Fours in Atlanta/Indiana and Oklahoma City/Houston.
The Thunder will try to become the third team to sweep their first round series, joining Miami and San Antonio for some rest and relaxation. Chicago has a 3-1 lead vs. Brooklyn, and will try to finish off a series upset as a road underdog.
Let’s see how sharps have been betting Monday’s tripleheader…
7:00 p.m. ET: CHICAGO at BROOKLYN on TNT
Not much betting interest in this one from sharps, even after news broke about Kirk Hinrich missing the game with a calf injury. The opener was Brooklyn -5.5. That’s where it sits as we go to press late Monday morning Las Vegas time. We’re hearing that sharps who are now...
Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 9:00 PM
This past Saturday Night’s Oklahoma City/Houston game gave sports bettors their first look at the Thunder without Russell Westbrook. As they take the floor Monday Night in hopes of finishing off a four-game sweep of the Rockets, we believe the Thunder will be dealing with these issues. And, they are issues that will only become bigger against better competition.
*An over-reliance on Kevin Durant. It’s one thing to rely on him. It’s another for the whole team to jump on his back and expect to be carried through the playoffs. Durant had a tremendous first half Saturday Night, fueled by the emotion of the situation. He obviously ran out of gas in the second half. His shooting form failed. Durant was very fortunate to hit a late go-ahead shot…he missed it so badly it bounced way up then fell in! If Durant got this tired after a half of carrying his team vs. fading Houston (who ran out of gas themselves a couple of weeks ago), what’s going to happen against...
Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The biggest surprise about the exciting Denver/Golden State series in the NBA’s Western Conference Playoffs isn’t that the series underdog Warriors are leading two games to one. It’s that they’ve actually looked like the better team the whole way through!
This was supposed to be a series where Denver was the better team overall, and Golden State would try to counteract that by hitting a bunch of treys. Sure, the Warriors could be competitive if the treys fell. But, that would be making up for their softness inside.
Well, you might be surprised to learn that Golden State is actually winning the toughness categories.
Game One: Golden State 51%, Denver 43%
Game Two: Golden State 57%, Denver 69%
Game Three: Golden State 49%, Denver 57%
It’s not that Golden State is playing great inside defense. They’re not. But, Denver’s two-point defense has been extremely disappointing. They did well in the first game (which...
Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 9:00 PM
A unique set of circumstances Sunday has created a whirlwind of chatter amongst conspiracy theorists. The WORST possible thing for the NBA as a business would be to have the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics removed from the playoffs in four quick games…at the same time that marquee teams like Miami, New York, and San Antonio are removed from television for a week.
If you’re a business focused on TV inventory, this is a worst case scenario!
Yet, it’s exactly what will happen if New York, Miami, and San Antonio finish off four-game sweeps against Boston, Milwaukee, and the LA Lakers respectively in Sunday action.
As handicappers, do you keep betting the dominance? Or, do you try to anticipate skullduggery and mischief from power brokers who want to keep showing you insurance commercials and movie previews?
Details of the dominance…
*New York has defeated Boston by margins of 7, 16, and 14, going 2-1 against Vegas expectations
Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Enjoy these l;ast two NBA Playoff quadrupleheaders Saturday and Sunday, because this will be it for the season! We have four big matchups today, and then four more tomorrow. A few series could be over by Sunday Night given the one-sidedness we’ve seen with the Heat, Knicks, and Spurs. We’ll have plenty of big weekends ahead in terms of marquee matchups. This will be the last heavy “volume” weekend of the pro postseason.
Let’s see how sharps have been betting Saturday’s four-game Grand Slam…
2:00 p.m. ET: BROOKLYN at CHICAGO on TNT
We’re generally seeing a tug-of-war here with sharps backing either Chicago -2.5 or Brooklyn +3. Different sets of sharps are betting at the preferred lines. Old school guys are focused more on the underdog in the bounce back spot and the must-win situation. The computer guys are more on Chicago based on how the personnel matchups have been working for them the last two games.
Total sentiment is...
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 9:00 PM
We’re only a week into the playoffs…but we’ve already reached what is arguably the most important game in what was projected to be the most competitive series. The Memphis Grizzlies must hold serve Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers if they have any hopes of making it to the second round and facing the suddenly vulnerable Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Clippers lead two games to one…
*If Memphis holds serve for a second straight game, then we’re probably looking at the seven-game slugfest that many pundits had projected. It all starts over as a best-of-three.
*If Memphis loses, then the Clippers will have a COMMANDING lead…needing only one more win with two home games left on the docket if it goes that far.
Such a fine line between a dead heat between approximate equals or a dominating position for the series favorite. That’s why Game Fours are always seen as so important by longtime championship coaches. Get the job done...
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 6:00 PM
It’s very important for students of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to realize that handicapping the impact of injuries is never as easy as it seems. There are a few examples of that going on right now in the NBA Playoffs. And, given the ferocity of play so far, handicappers may be dealing with new challenges in the coming days when new players get hurt.
*The Chicago Bulls were supposed to have no chance this year of mattering in the playoffs because Derrick Rose wasn’t able to come back yet from his horrible knee injury suffered in the first round of last year’s postseason. Then, Joakim Noah was ALSO hurt, and his minutes would be limited. Even with that bleak outlook, Chicago stole a win at New Jersey before taking a 2-1 series lead with another victory this past Thursday Night. They may still be knocked out in the first round. But, they’re playing a lot better than many in the sport expected. Here in Vegas, Chicago...
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM
It was just announced Friday morning Las Vegas time that Russell Westbrook will be lost indefinitely for the Oklahoma City Thunder because he’ll be undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus. It’s not known yet if Westbrook will miss the rest of the playoffs…or if he’ll be able to match the fast track recovery of Metta World Peace of the Lakers who came back much sooner than expected from meniscus surgery.
Westbrook may be lost until next year. Westbrook may be back before the Western Conference finals. More will be known once doctors have done their work.
What does this mean to the Western Conference playoffs?
The first reaction from oddsmakers was to drop Oklahoma City from -3 in Game Three on the road in Houston down to pick-em. That’s a HUGE move…because it’s generally assumed in Vegas that only a handful of true superstars are worth three points in Power Ratings. Personally, I think that’s an overreaction. But, I can understand...
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 1:30 PM
You don’t often see this in the NBA Playoffs. We have two simultaneous late-night games from California Friday Night. So, your “TV Tripleheader” is one exclusive early game in Boston…then two late night affairs hosted by the Lakers and Warriors in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively.
What does this mean to the markets? It means that square money could hit the board much more emphatically than normal! It’s a Friday Night…which means more squares are out on the town in Vegas. And, California teams often draw betting interest (though Kobe’s absence significantly reduces the number of people who want to bet on the Lakers).
We’ll run through how the sharps have bet these games to this point. Be aware that we could see line moves in the hours before tipoff that are driven by square money. History says you should fade those moves unless they’re injury based.
8:00 p.m. ET: NEW YORK at BOSTON on ESPN
Boston opened at...
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM
The Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers begin a fascinating Interleague series Friday Night in Motown. We say fascinating because there are early indicators that this could actually be a World Series preview. The Braves are playing the best ball in the National League right now. And, Detroit “would be” if not for surprising bullpen woes that could easily be fixed between now and October.
Here’s what we mean…
Atlanta: 15-6, surging to a big lead in the NL East
Detroit: 10-10, tied for second in AL Central
Atlanta has been on fire even though they’ve played a lot more road games than home games…and even though they’ve run up against first place teams in three different divisions already (they themselves are a first place team in a fourth division). Impressive start! Detroit’s only playing .500 ball to this point, which is seen as a huge disappointment for one of the favorites to win the American League. And,...
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The last two second halves in the Boston Celtics/New York Knicks series were notable for historic incompetence. The Boston Celtics literally had no idea how to get the ball in the basket with the game on the line twice in a row! They scored 25 points in the second half of Game One…then 23 points in the second half of Game Two. Again, not in quarters, but in halves!
*The loss of Rajon Rondo is a big problem against a good team because the Celtics need a ball distributor. They most have a collection of players right now who can’t create their own shot. They can hit open looks off a pass (though that skill seems to be fading too). But, the veterans don’t have speed any more, while the younger guys are overmatched unless they get a couple of steps on the way to the basket.
Boston could get by without Rondo in the second half of the season while playing in a weak conference against a schedule that saw a lot of opponents just going through the...
Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 1:30 PM
Back for market analysis of another NBA TV tripleheader, as we cover Thursday Night’s action here in this report. Note that we’ve now switched sites…as Games One and Two in every first round series are in the books. Games Three and Four will be hosted by series underdogs from tonight through the weekend. That means no double digit spreads for a few days!
Let’s take the games in schedule order…
7:00 p.m. ET: MIAMI at MILWAUKEE on TNT
The Heat opened at -7.5, which is high for a road favorite in the NBA Playoffs historically. Sharps bet Milwaukee down to +7, but didn’t drive the line any lower than that. Some old school sharps will automatically bet any team that’s dropped the first two games of a series on principle. They figure that’s their best chance to get peak intensity from a home team against a flat effort from a visitor. If the public bets tonight, they’re likely to take the Heat at what seems like an affordable...
Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Before the 2013 Major League Baseball season started, the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals were basically co-favorites to win the National League. That meant that a late April four-game series in the nation’s capital between the two teams (which starts TONIGHT) was going to be one of the highlights of the opening month. That’s still the case. But, NOW it’s because both teams are trying to stay within striking distance of the resurgent St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves.
Cincinnati: 13-9, trailing St. Louis in the NL Central
Washington: 10-11, trailing Atlanta by FIVE GAMES in the NL East!
The Reds are obviously playing better ball based on those records. Washington wasn’t supposed to be under .500 this deep into the season. But, it’s worth nothing that both teams have benefited a bit from friendly schedules.
Cincinnati: 16 home games and only 6 road games (!), which just featured a homestand against very...
Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM
We haven’t had a chance yet, here in the NOTEBOOK, to talk about the first round series featuring the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks. That’s probably for the best, because it’s not going to be much of a series! Maybe the Bucks can steal one at home. But, there’s no way they’re stealing this series.
Is there ANYONE in the East really capable of taking out the Heat in a best-of-seven series? Before we look at the possibilities, some quick notes…
*Usually “surprises” in basketball are triggered by three-pointers. That’s more common in college hoops. But, even in the NBA…you can usually trace a major upset to superior shooting, or better long range production. Miami averaged 8.7 made treys per game during the regular season. That was second best in the East, and third best in the whole NBA. If anyone, it’s MIAMI who can get hot from long range and end a game that way. Opponents will have to make 11-12 treys on four...
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 1:30 PM
Another tripleheader on tap Wednesday Night in the NBA Playoffs. Let’s see how the Wise Guys (sharps…professional wagerers) have been betting the final three installments of “Game Two” action in the first round of the 2013 pro basketball postseason.
7:00 p.m. ET: HOUSTON at OKLAHOMA CITY on TNT
Much like we saw in Miami/Milwaukee yesterday, the conference favorite was bet UP at the opener even though the double digit underdog was in the classic zig-zag position. Sharps ended up losing with the Heat when Milwaukee hit a late three-pointer to back door a dog cover. Sharps are hoping the money that drove Oklahoma City from -10.5 to -11.5 has better luck. Our sources suggest that Houston money would come in at +12 because so many of these zig zag underdogs in the bounce back position are cashing tickets (2-1 Tuesday, after 2-0 Monday).
Most offshore places opened the total near 212. Over sentiment was clear at that number, leading Vegas stores to open...
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM
It’s been quite a few days for Paul George of the Indiana Pacers. On Sunday, he earned a triple-double to lead his team to a blowout victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game One of their Eastern Conference playoff series. On Tuesday, he was named “Most Improved Player” of the year in the NBA. That either means he’s about to become a breakout star…or he’s about to learn the pressure of expectations.
First let’s talk about Sunday. George was the star of the game because he scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out 12 assists. Now, the bad news….
*He was only 3 of 13 shooting, which might be one of the worst performances ever within a triple double! He was able to score 23 points because the refs kept putting him on the free throw line. Hey, 17 of 18 from the charity stripe is nothing to sneeze at. But, referees tend to swallow their whistles as a series develops. If he stops going to the line…then he’s just the...
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 1:30 PM
Underdog bettors were given a bit of hope last night when both Chicago and Memphis got the money in Game Two bounce backs of their opening round playoff series against Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers respectively. Chicago won outright, while Memphis just missed pulling off a shocker.
Has that influenced sharp betting action in Tuesday Night’s tripleheader. Let’s run through the slate in schedule order. Here’s how the sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting the three games you’ll be watching on TV this evening…
7:30 p.m. ET: MILWAUKEE at MIAMI on NBA Network
This one is very interesting, because it flies in the face of how the Wise Guys have been betting the NBA for decades. Miami opened at -13.5, and was bet UP to -14.5 as we go to press. Sharps historically prefer underdogs, particularly double digit underdogs. Sharps historically prefer investing in the team that just lost the previous game. And, sharps will almost always bet...
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 8:00 AM
The only first round series that showed any excitement this past weekend received the worst injury news. Golden State just missed pulling off a shocker at Denver Saturday afternoon, only to lose David Lee for the rest of the season to a torn hip flexor. Can the Warriors still compete without Lee when they take the floor Tuesday Night against the Nuggets?
*It’s important to remember that Lee is a great offensive player, but a neutral player overall. Golden State will be a different team, but not necessarily a worse one. It’s interesting that the Vegas line didn’t move in a way that would have weighted the injury with any significance. Denver’s the same size favorite in Game Two that they were in Game One. That tells you that oddsmakers and the Wise Guys don’t have Lee valued as a high impact player overall. He’s always received a lot of media coverage because of his scoring (and because he spent some time in New York). The market may not have as...
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM
We’ve definitely started an interesting stretch of NBA Playoff action where THE KING OF UPSETS has to decide whether or not any underdogs are worthy of serious consideration.
Underdogs are 0-8 straight up one game into each series
Underdogs are 2-6 against the spread in those eight games
A quick review of what each of the eight first round underdogs are up against…
*CHICAGO probably won’t have Joakim Noah for meaningful minutes at any point in the series because of a serious foot injury. It’s hard to see them stopping the inside game of Brooklyn without him. The Bulls can definitely steal a game or two when the Nets go cold. But, if they throw in the towel, this series could be over quickly. Let’s not forget that Brooklyn is shaping up to be a dog when playing in Chicago based on the current prices. If that holds, the Nets will deserve serious consideration at least once as a road puppy.
*MEMPHIS has the talent to bounce back after...
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM
If there was ever a weekend to be investing in the most dynamic stars of professional basketball, you just watched it. The cream didn’t just rise to the top. The best athletes on the planet came out breathing fire to send a message about their clear intentions to charge to a championship.
Through the eight first round games played Saturday and Sunday, the average victory margin was 16 points, and the midpoints in the string of victory margins was right on 17. Las Vegas oddsmakers usually don’t make dynasty teams that pricey in the playoffs. Here, it was the AVERAGE of all favorites!
Does this mean that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and now even Deron Williams are going to keep leading their teams to one-sided blowouts? Let the long experience of THE DEAN OF SPORTS HANDICAPPING suggest some caution.
*I got a very strong sense that James and Durant were “sending a message” the first time they took the floor as a means of intimidating their current...
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 4:00 PM
With the most recent weekend of Major League Baseball action in the books, most teams have played about 18 games so far. What’s interesting is that a handful have had either friendly schedules (about two-thirds of their games at home), while some others have had unlucky early schedules (about two-thirds of their games on the road).
As a result, your morning newspaper standings are concealing some stories that you need to be aware of. You don’t want to risk good money betting on overrated teams (those benefitting from easy schedules). You don’t want to lose money betting against teams who are better than you realized.
The most important developing stories in our view at the moment are:
KANSAS CITY is off to a nice start, sitting at 10-7 on top of the AL Central. You may not be aware that the Royals have played only six home games this year compared to 11 road games. They lead the division, and are about to play five extra home games. You can make a lot of money in...
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM
One of the biggest questions on the minds of sports bettors this week involves whether or not professional wagerers are going to embrace the classic “zig-zag” theory or not. Historically, many sharps will look at the loser of Game One in Game Two of an NBA series. But, most of this past weekend’s losers looked SO BAD while getting routed that discretion may prove the better part of valor. In fact, we might see interest in favorites if oddsmakers anticipate zig zag betting that never actually happens.
We’ll study this issue each of the next three days, as the eight first round matchups move to their second games. Monday features a doubleheader. We’ll take the games in schedule order…
8 p.m. ET: CHICAGO at BROOKLYN on TNT
Oddsmakers posted an opener of Brooklyn -4.5, hedging initially against expected zig-zag interest in underdog Chicago. This is a #4-5 series in the East…one that was expected to be competitive going in....
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Hey, NBA, where's the drama already?
We know, it's only been a Game #1 in each of the eight opening-round playoff series but home sides won these playoff openers by a per-game margin of 16 points per game and save for Saturday's 97-95 non-cover win by Denver over a gritty/gutty (and now short-handed) Golden State Warriors team there really wasn't a whole lot of edge-of-your-seat action.
Okay, so there's a whole lot of basketball to be played in this first round alone - consider that home teams were favored by an average of 8 points in the post-season first eight games and so maybe nobody should be surprised by the lopsided affair -- but there are some things to be learned from some of the series.
Here's what we mean as we select one from Column A (a/k/a the Western Conference) and one from Column B (a/k/a the Eastern Conference):
In Game #1 in one of the Western Conference Playoff Series, the San Antonio Spurs (- 9) topped the Los Angeles Lakers 91-79 and the Kobe Bryant-less LA...
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 8:00 AM
There’s probably no first round series in the NBA Playoffs this year that’s more at the mercy of the officials than Grizzlies/Clippers. Both teams like playing physically. But only one team has the versatility and depth to thrive if physical play isn’t allowed.
Let’s go over the possibilities from both the side and total perspectives.
NO WHISTLES—TEAM SIDE
These teams are extremely even in wrestling matches. Both offenses will have troubles getting shots off in games dragged down by a very slow pace. If bettors knew for certain ahead of time that the refs were going to swallow their whistles, then plays on the underdog would make a lot of sense. We’d be looking at tight nailbiters often decided in the very last seconds.
Obviously you’d want the Unders in this kind of game. You’re looking at 86-84 finishes, even 79-77 finishes…possibly 74-72 finishes if nobody was making any...
Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 8:00 PM
It took longer than expected, but Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets is now having the kind of impact on the floor everyone was expecting when he first joined the team. Williams was in peak form in the final weeks of the regular season. Then, he completely controlled the first half of Game One in the Chicago/Brooklyn series Saturday Night…a half won by the Nets 60-35.
Game Two goes Monday night, and Chicago has no hope of competing in this matchup if they can’t at least slow down Williams.
DERON WILLIAMS IN GAME ONE
22 points on 9 of 15 shooting
+24 points in plus/minus
All that came in just 35 minutes of game action.
It’s important to note that Saturday Night wasn’t only about Williams. The Bulls played so soft defensively that several Nets had big games.
*Brook Lopez scored 21 points on 7 of 15 from the floor and 7 of 7 from the free throw line. The East lacks great big men…which means Lopez is a rare commodity who can...
Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM
The eighth and final NBA series opener this weekend features James Harden of the Houston Rockets going back to face his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates in the #1-8 matchup in the Western Conference playoffs.
It’s easy to imagine that Harden himself wanted to face the Thunder. He has something to prove! His teammates have to be demoralized that they blew a chance at a #6 seed or a #7 seed (and inconsistent San Antonio) with late season losses in games they could have won.
The Rockets looked to lose intensity once they had clinched a playoff spot. That’s the worst possible mindset for this kind of team…relaxing once you’ve climbed the mountain. There’s a lot of work still to do at the top of the mountain!
Can the Rockets regain that intensity and give a scare to the Thunder? Is this three-point attack a legitimate threat to take down anybody in a best-of-seven sprint? Let’s run the series through our gauntlet of indicators to see if any...
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Though LeBron James is going to draw and audience whenever he plays, this may be one of the least enthralling playoff series in many years. Miami is head and shoulders above the whole Eastern Conference. Some would argue that Milwaukee is the exact opposite of that down at the other end of the spectrum. Their regular season record was so bad that Jeff Van Gundy told a TV audience the Bucks shouldn’t have been allowed in the playoffs!
Hey…it’s not like Miami is playing the Charlotte Bobcats! But, Milwaukee is extremely outmatched. Handicappers and sports bettors have to determine whether or not oddsmakers have properly priced the level of projected dominance. Let’s run the game through Jim Hurley’s gauntlet of key indicators to see if we can find any help on that angle…
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
Miami had a stretch during the season where they weren’t taking things seriously enough....
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM
There’s not much media attention being paid to the Atlanta Hawks/Indiana Pacers series that begins Sunday. It’s the most “off-the-radar” of all eight matchups because there aren’t any New York teams involved, or potential champions (unless Indiana gets incredibly hot vs. both New York and Miami). Sports bettors and handicappers know they have to look for edges in ALL board games…not just the ones TV pundits are talking about!
Let’s run the matchup through Jim Hurley’s gauntlet of key indicators, as we continue our series of BONUS previews that are exclusive to the VSM blog…
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
Neither team impressed vs. quality. In fact, both of those are poor records for that level of seed. Atlanta may be a #6 seed, but they played more like a #8 (or a non-playoff team) when facing good teams. Indiana was below .500…and a #3 seed should at least be above .500....
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 2:00 PM
In our last report, we looked at what sharps were betting the first day of 2013 NBA Playoff action. We’re back now to study how professional wagerers in Las Vegas and offshore have been betting Sunday’s Grand Slam schedule.
Once again, we’ll take the four games in order of tipoffs.
1 p.m. ET: ATLANTA at INDIANA on TNT
There hasn’t been a lot of betting interest in this game from sharps, and it’s in a relative dead spot for square interest from the public because it tips off Sunday at 10 a.m. Las Vegas time. We’re seeing a solid -6.5 for favorite Indiana as we go to press. Most stores opened at that. Those who opened at Indiana -7 were bet down to -6.5 quickly. Sharps had plenty of time to attack the favorite at -6.5 if they so desired So, we can say with confidence that sharps would take Atlanta +7 if they see it again.
Remember that sharps always tip their hands very quickly on favorites. There’s rarely a benefit for waiting to...
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 1:00 PM
You don’t often see the networks showcase two teams who aren’t playing at their best in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. But the fascinating storylines surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs have made their first round series must-see TV.
Can the Lakers win without Kobe Bryant? Most fans would have been skeptical of that…until they saw a rejuvenated Dwight Howard and a frisky Pau Gasol lead the Lakers to two key regular season victories after Kobe’s injury. Hey, Dwight Howard at his BEST could take a lot of teams a lot of places…that’s why he was so highly sought after last year.
Is the “Tim Duncan era” finally over for the Spurs? That didn’t seem likely earlier this season, when San Antonio was once again crushing Western Conference foes. But, the team slumped home in a way that has you wondering if the end is near. Manu Ginobili suddenly looks his age. Tony Parker has a tendency to run himself into...
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Let's not miss a beat ...Now here's a look at the NBA Playoff series that begin here on Sunday plus notice that we've included all the regular-season head-to-head matchups between the teams playing in Round I (with all home teams in CAPS below) ...
#6 ATLANTA (44-38) at #3 INDIANA (49-32) - Game #1 is at 1 p.m. ET
It was a hold-your-serve type of regular season when the Hawks and Pacers squared off as the teams won their home games (and note home betting favorites covered three-of-four games) and so that's key here 'cause you generally don't win playoff series unless you can win on the road.
The Pacers - who sport a nice one-two scoring punch in Paul George (17.4 points per game) and David West (17.1 ppg) - don't generally get mission accomplished with their offense as Indy's the best defensive squad in the NBA's Eastern Conference but something tells us George/West must deliver their normal scoring averages and than somebody else - maybe kid Lance Stephenson -...
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 7:00 AM
In terms of won-lost records, the best opening round playoff matchup is clearly the Memphis Grizzlies facing the Los Angeles Clippers in the 4-5 series out West. These guys played a seven-game classic last year. You can make the case that both teams have IMPROVED since then!
Let’s run the matchup through Jim Hurley’s gauntlet of indicator stats. We’ll be doing that exclusively here in the VSM blog for all matchups that don’t appear in the daily Hurley Notebook.
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
You’ve already seen a few teams that have disappointed in this stat. New Jersey was horrible. New York wasn’t nearly as good as you’d expect from a #2 seed. Here we have two teams who really got the job done vs. quality. Virtual dead heats. Memphis might be the #2 seed if they played in the more logical East. Maybe some Eastern team will move to Seattle and allow for that possibility in the future. Anyway,...
Friday, April 19, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Game Three on Saturday’s NBA Playoff schedule features the Bulls and the Nets…in the first playoff game played in Brooklyn! This is the 4-5 series in the East, which many expect to be extremely competitive. Let’s run the teams through Jim Hurley’s gauntlet of key indicators to see how the series will likely play out…
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
This is a huge surprise right off the bat. Brooklyn was good enough to earn home court advantage in a first round series, yet was absolutely HORRIBLE when they played quality opposition. It’s almost impossible to make the playoffs with a mark that poor. What happened? New Jersey was great at squashing bad teams…and you see a lot of bad teams in the East. It’s certainly possible that the Nets were using a strategy of “pacing” themselves by simply taking care of business vs. the worst teams while saving their energy vs. the best. But,...
Friday, April 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM
We have four games on the Saturday schedule as the 2013 NBA Playoffs begin. Let’s take a look at how sharps have been betting the quadruple-header since the lines went up late Thursday. We’ll be back during the day Saturday to review how sharps have been betting Sunday’s games.
We’ll take the foursome in schedule order.
3 p.m. ET: BOSTON at NEW YORK on ABC
The biggest sharp move on the first Saturday of action came on the TOTAL in this game, as an opener of 193.5 was bet all the way down to 189.5. That’s a four-point move. Clearly oddsmakers misread expectations for this grudge battle. We’re hearing that sharps expect Boston to bring intense defense to the affair. Plus, sharps are expecting New York’s playoff veterans to become a larger point of emphasis for the team moving forward. That means patience and defense.
In terms of the team side…the Knicks generally opened between -7 and -8 offshore depending on the store and...
Friday, April 19, 2013 at 5:30 PM
Many consider Warriors/Nuggets to be the most exciting of the first round matchups in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. We have two of the fastest teams in the league on the floor to be sure. And, Jim Hurley’s gauntlet of statistical indicators suggest the teams have a lot in common. Hurley’s daily NOTEBOOK will focus on the games getting the most TV coverage. We’ll post previews of the other matchups using those same key indicators exclusively here in the VSM blog!
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
Golden State: 20-27
Denver often catches a break in this stat because their home court advantage is stronger than everyone else’s. And, the schedule makers often put their opponents on night two of a back-to-back while the Nuggets are fresh! So, the numbers above probably overstate Denver’s superiority vs. quality opposition. But, Golden State was still way below .500 themselves…meaning the Warriors really need to pick up their effort...
Friday, April 19, 2013 at 10:27 AM
So, you tell us: Is there anyone out there in NBA-land that can beat - and thereby unseat -- the Miami Heat from what surely appears to be a second straight championship on the horizon?
The Heat's an overwhelming favorite to repeat - check out the "Odds to Win it All" below - but do keep in mind last year's run to the title wasn't easy with a six-game series against Indiana and a stirring seven-game set versus Boston before the NBA Finals win against Oklahoma City.
Let's rev it up and get the NBA Playoffs started!
First off, here's the NBA Playoffs "Odds to Win it All" and guess you can say there's one overwhelming favorite, eh?
Friday, April 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM
We’re here in the NOTEBOOK to preview the first of EIGHT series NBA Playoff first round series that get underway this weekend. We’re focusing here on the renewal of the storied Boston/New York rivalry that will tip off the first big weekend of action. Tomorrow we’ll preview the Lakers/Spurs series, which is the showcase matchup Sunday afternoon. Then, early Sunday, we’ll crunch the numbers in Houston/Oklahoma City…the James Harden Homecoming.
We’ll focus on the same key indicator stats in in each preview…and through the full playoffs. That approach worked out very well for us during MARCH MADNESS, as you could find hidden contenders and eventual pretenders by digging deep into the data. Let’s see how the Celtics and Knicks stack up.
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
New York: 23-20
That’s surprisingly close for a #7 vs. #2 matchup. The Knicks did a great job of bullying bad teams this year, but were...
Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 2:30 PM
The National Basketball Association playoffs begin Saturday and heavy money keeps coming in on the defending champion Miami to win it all and that means the Heat have dropped another notch in futures wagering and are now the odds-on 4-7 favorites. Oklahoma City is the 7-2 second choice, while San Antonio is solidly entrenched in the third position at a generous 8-1.
If you believe a longshot is going to win it all, you can take a stand on the Milwaukee Bucks at 300-1, or play in a somewhat less dangerous situation by backing the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks at 200-1.
The only thing I am certain of is that the playoffs will end in early June and that they bring new challenges that will force those not mad at their money, and sincerely looking for winners to (1) dig deeply into all data and subjective information that might produce the winning edge, (2) proceed with extreme caution from one day to the next and (3) have the guts to take a stand when the situation merits it.
Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 2:27 PM
Let the record state that the 2012-13 NBA regular season didn't end till 1:26 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, April 18th but not before - surprise, surprise - more drama from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Heck, you just knew that the roller-coaster-like 82-game regular season couldn't end with a whimper and so there were the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers first getting their wishes granted and making it into the playoffs in the first place thanks to Utah's 86-70 no-show loss in Memphis earlier in the evening and than for good measure the Lakers went overtime to defeat Houston 99-95 to thereby avoid a first-round playoff series against defending conference champ Oklahoma City.
No problem, right?
The fact of the matter is the seventh-seeded Lakers went some seven-plus minutes from late in regulation into the OT without a field goal and still managed to snag the "W" as Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol combined for 33 points and 38 rebounds and both were monsters at crunch time: Howard with his defensive...
Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM
The NBA Playoffs begin Saturday, so it’s time in my College of Advanced Sports Betting to review the proper principals for picking pointspread winners in first round series. You regulars already know to start with PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS on each roster. So, I’m not even going to list that. It’s a given. The best players control their destiny in the NBA…PARTICULARLY in the playoffs when they tend to get breaks from officials.
Other keys to remember:
*The best teams have recently emphasized getting the first round over QUICKLY so they can rest up for the wars that are still ahead. Maybe they’ll have one flat game in the first four. It would be a surprise if either #1 seed went six games in the first round. Look for the best teams to maintain their focus…and look for teams who have established some superiority out of the gate to keep going for the jugular. Nobody’s pacing themselves any more. It’s PLAY HARD, then REST.