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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Many in the mainstream media and the major sports betting markets are wondering how oddsmakers and sharps will deal with the injury to Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s going to miss the entire second round (at least) according to team officials. We know the Cavs would have been favored with him (likely over the Chicago Bulls, but still possibly over the Milwaukee Bucks). How many points is Love worth?

On one hand, you’ll hear old-timers discussing how no NBA player is worth more than a few points. Love is talented…but he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire this season. Is he work 2-3 points? Is that too much? Old school sharps are going to be very conservative with their adjustments.

On the other hand, the media reacted to the injury news like it was the end of the world in Cleveland. Some even said the Cavs had no chance to beat the Bulls without Love. Others at least suggested that Chicago would now be the favorite in that series…and conceivably the favorite to win the East given Atlanta’s form so far. The public listens to TV pundits. That may have some influence on the line.

In my view, the best way to think through the process is to start with how the teams were Power Rated before Love’s injury. Let’s look at their series openers two weekends ago…

*Chicago was -8 over Milwaukee in Game One

*Cleveland was -11.5 over Boston in Game One

If Milwaukee and Boston were dead even…then that would suggest Cleveland was about 3.5 points better than Chicago on a neutral court in the eyes of the market. Were the Bucks and Celtics even? Fairly close. The seedings suggested Milwaukee was slightly better (the Bucks were a #6 seed, compared to a #7 slot for Boston). But, many computers and other methodologies actually had Boston as the slightly superior side entering the postseason regardless of the seedings.

For the sake of argument…let’s just say they were even.

If one were to believe there’s NO WAY the Cavs could beat the Bulls without Love, that would suggest Love were worth at least 5-7 points! Sorry…that’s just not a case you can make. Particularly with him spending so much time out by the arc this season while LeBron James and Kyrie Irving ran the offense. Maybe…I emphasize MAYBE he’s worth a net 2-3 points in the big picture. That would leave Cleveland as still a slight favorite over the Bulls on a neutral court, and a bit more than slight to win the series because the Cavs would have home court advantage over the best-of-seven.

In the days since the injury announcement, you can tell that many in the media have been chomping at the bit to report the rash of futures money flooding in on Chicago to win the East…or the plummeting odds of Cleveland without Love. That’s just not happening. The market is smarter than the media! Cleveland has not lost all hope. They’ll drop a bit in the Power Ratings…in a conference where they had some margin for error to begin with. There has been some influence in the futures prices caused by the Love injury. Just not the huge impact the media had anticipated.

I should also mention that the market is noticing how much trouble Chicago is having with Milwaukee the past few games. Too many pundits think that the Bulls are an elite team when Derrick Rose is healthy. Occasionally yes. But, you definitely haven’t seen greatness from the Bulls in Games 3-4-5 vs. the Bucks. If Chicago’s playing nailbiters in Milwaukee, or losing at HOME to the Bucks…what’s going to happen against Cleveland? Do pundits think “Cleveland without Love” is worse than Milwaukee? Please.

It’s going to be a fun series to handicap if Chicago does survive the first round as expected. It could turn out that Chicago has some matchup advantages vs. shorthanded Cleveland that will trump the market. And, we have to remember that J.R. Smith will miss the first two games because of a suspension. Still, Cleveland doesn’t turn into the Pistons or the Hornets or the Sixers or the Knicks by losing Kevin Love. LeBron James is still the single most dynamic force in the league. Kyrie Irving showed he can carry the team on his shoulders for long stretches as well.

We’ll get our first look at second round pricing once the Chicago/Milwaukee series ends. Game Six is Thursday night. If Chicago wins on the road…then early numbers for Game One of Bulls/Cavs will go up soon afterward. If Milwaukee forces a Game Seven, then we won’t know until late Saturday.

Don’t forget that I post game day NBA Playoff selections right here at the website. You can purchase those 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. I love the busy Spring and Summer schedules that include so much playoff action and baseball.

The weekend schedule is very much in flux as we wait for the rest of these first round matchups to finish. I expect my next market report for the NBA Playoffs will be early next week…as we study how sharps have been betting the new pairings. Thanks for reading today. I look forward to seeing you again next week.

 

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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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