Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 2:00 PM
The 2015 NBA Playoffs begin Saturday with a quadruple-header. There are EIGHT games set for the full weekend featuring the openers of all eight first round series. Let’s take a look at how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting thus far in the process (lines have been up for about a day as we publish this report).
Games are presented in schedule/rotation order.
Washington at Toronto (12:35 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN)
You regulars know that favorite money usually comes in early in important events. Sharps who like the favorite bet quickly in advance of public action (squares almost always bet favorites). Underdog sentiment is generally expressed later in the process. Here we saw a taste of that, as an opener of Toronto by 4 has been pushed in places to -4.5. Though stores who have tested the 4.5 often see dog money come in then. Most sharps I’ve talked to see this is a relatively evenly matched series…and expect at least one of the first two games to be close. I wouldn’t be surprised if a tug-of-war develops before tip off with the public on the host at -4, while sharps take the dog at +4.5. And, we might even see sharps take a plunge on the dog at +4 if that’s the best they’ll see on game day before the early tip.
The Over/Under opened at 192, and was bet up to 193.5. Generally speaking…sharps know that early games tend to skew Over in a playoff series, before things really slow down and get serious deeper in the matchup.
New Orleans at Golden State (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC)
Quants see Golden State as one of the best NBA teams in history, let alone this season. That is a large part of what’s behind a big move from a high opener of Warriors -10.5 to an even higher -11.5 of -12. There are definitely some old school guys waiting to see what they can get on the dog before acting. Old school guys will take double digits almost whenever they see it. We may end up having a bit of a tug-of-war between different sharp approaches here. This total is also up a point and a half, with an opener of 203 being bet up to 204.5.
Milwaukee at Chicago (7:05 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN)
Very important here that the line has come DOWN off the opener. That goes off the usual flow of early action…and it also goes against the historical influence of Chicago money in big events. Chicago opened at -8.5...but we’re now seeing either 7.5 or 8 at most stores. Looks like oddsmakers overestimated the impact of Derrick Rose in the lineup…and sharps couldn’t believe +8.5 on the “defensive dog” was available right off the bat. The public will likely make its presence felt to a degree here because it’s a night game on a weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a game day tug-of-war between Chicago -7.5 and Milwaukee +8. Not much happening on the opening total of 187. This is supposed to be the lowest scoring series of the first round matchups.
Dallas at Houston (9:35 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN)
Very interesting series for sharps and handicappers. Dallas was in pretty ugly form (by playoff standards) down the stretch…making the Mavericks a team many sharps wanted to fade. But, Houston is seen as a one-man team (James Harden), which makes them hard to take as favorites because it’s tough for “one guy” to cover as chalk. So, the opener of Houston -5.5 has largely stood pat. Some stores are testing the five because more Dallas interest has been expressed thus far by respected money. Hard to know how involved the public will be because it’s not really a marquee series featuring championship contenders. Quants did bet the total up from 209 to 210.
Boston at Cleveland (3 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC)
Moving to Sunday now…only a slight move toward the favorite as Cleveland -10.5 has been bet up to -11. Not as impressive as what happened with Golden State. Sharps know that the Cavs have a weak bench…which makes it harder to protect a comfortable late lead in garbage time. Sharp dog money would likely come in at +11.5 if the public pushes the game that high. No interest yet on the total. Interesting that this one didn’t go up like many others did.
Brooklyn at Atlanta (5:35 p.m. ET Sunday on TNT)
This game has basically been frozen at the openers of Atlanta -10 and 201.5. It has the least marquee value of the opening round in terms of excitement (though top seeded Atlanta is obviously a championship threat moving forward). The public may not bet it. Sharps didn’t lift the opener, which at least suggests that dog money would come in at +10.5 (and certainly at +11).
Portland at Memphis (8:05 p.m. ET Sunday on TNT)
Memphis opened at -3.5, and was bet up to -4.5. Portland has been dealing with injuries…which could become a real problem now that they’re in the tough Western brackets against an opponent geared to attack its weakness. Authoritative move in my view. The Over/Under has dropped from 191 to 188.5…which is the most dramatic totals move of the weekend because it’s 2.5 points against the usual flow of early money. Just a bad opener from oddsmakers that quants quickly corrected.
San Antonio at the LA Clippers (10:35 p.m. ET Sunday on TNT)
Sharps were really disappointed that these two teams drew each other in the first round. San Antonio was going to be a popular take against virtually anyone else in the West. And, the math guys have loved the Clippers down the stretch. An opener of Clippers -1 hasn’t budged. Home court advantage is usually worth about 3 points in the playoffs. That tells you the market sees the Spurs as the better neutral court team. The Over/Under is up from 204 to 205.5, another game showing a move of a point and a half.
You can purchase my NBA Playoff selections every day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Friday…or this weekend before the first tips. I won’t be talking much about baseball for the time being here in the VSM Blog. But, I do release daily selections in that sport based on my years of experience within the betting markets.
I’m planning another sharps report for the NBA when we have the site switches for Game Three in all of these series. Conveniently, that’s a week from today. So, I’ll see you next Friday for a look at how sharps are reacting to changes in locale to Dallas, Washington, San Antonio, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Portland, and Boston. Best of luck to you in in the playoff openers. Thanks in advance to everyone who signs up for service.
Be sure to follow:
Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri
Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters