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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, May 8, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Great time to check in on the NBA Playoffs. We had a day off Thursday for the market to settle in on all the Game Three’s that will be played Friday and Saturday. I’ll run through the matchups for you in tip-off order beginning with tonight’s doubleheader.

Cleveland at Chicago (Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN): Looks like we have a tug-of-war developing between Chicago -1.5 and Cleveland +2. The public likes betting on LeBron, which puts them in the rare position of taking a road underdog. But, there is a lot of Chicago money that often finds its way into the marketplace…and that money is still confident that the Bulls can win this series because of the injury to Kevin Love. This is going to be a heavily bet game…one of the most active of the postseason so far. There’s strong sentiment on both sides in terms of public influences…and sharps aren’t in total agreement about how this series is going to go. The quant guys show Love as being a very big factor, which is putting some syndicates on the Bulls. Many of the old school guys seem to have more faith in LeBron James than they do in the Bulls however, which is helping to balance things out. As we speak, the series price is pick-em. Will be very interesting to watch what happens in the market moving forward. The opening Game Three total of 196 has been bet down to 195.

Houston at the LA Clippers (Friday at 10:35 p.m. ET on ESPN): An early tentative line of Clippers -2.5 shot up to -4 on the assumption that Chris Paul was going to return to the floor. Even if that doesn’t happen, the Clippers are in the natural zig-zag spot as a home team off a loss. What had been a relatively settled line of -4 moved up to -4.5, which suggests that there’s much more betting interest in the Clips than the Rockets from both sharp and square influences. The opening total of 217 was bet down to 216. That’s interesting because the first two games landed on 218 and 224. Old school sharps generally expect scoring to decrease as you get deeper into a series. That’s playing out here despite the first two games going Over.

Atlanta at Washington (Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN): This line jumped from Washington -1 to Atlanta -3 on the news that John Wall of the Wizards had five fractures in his left wrist. That gives you a sense of how many points the market thinks he’s worth in this matchup! Looks like a late-week tug-of-war developing between Atlanta -3 and Washington +3.5. Monitor developments on game day. Atlanta didn’t exactly set the world on fire vs. Brooklyn in the first round. How would Washington with an injured or absent Wall compare to Brooklyn? Some sharps think they can be competitive as home dogs, and are happy to take the +3.5. Not much betting interest on the total yet, as an opener of 199 is now sitting at 199.5. This may not be an actively bet game Saturday because it’s hard to trust either team at the moment. Atlanta hasn’t played like a #1 seed in the playoffs very often, while Wall’s injury makes Washington a big question mark.

Golden State at Memphis (Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC): Golden State opened at -3.5, and was bet quickly up to -4 and -4.5 by a marketplace that generally LOVES investing in great teams after a loss. Championship favorite Golden State looked awful in its Game Two loss to the Grizzlies. The whole world expects them to bounce back and play better here. Dog lovers are hoping to see at least +5 before taking any shots on the hosts based on what I’m hearing. We may see a tug-of-war developing through the day Saturday since this is a prime time game featuring a very popular betting strategy. Sportsbooks will be rooting for Memphis. Some sharps are likely to join them late in the betting process. The Over/Under is up a point from an opener of 195.5 to 196.5. Note that both of the first two games landed on 187. So, there are clearly some bettors who are “investing in Golden State” by taking the Over here and moving the line against the grain of the first two games and the general tendency to see less scoring as a series moves along.

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 Friday or Saturday morning before the baseball schedule gets going. Please ask about combination packages for both basketball and baseball when you call.

Thanks for reading. I plan on being back next Tuesday afternoon to look at all the Game Fives that will be played that night and Wednesday. We’re definitely going to have a Game Five in all four matchups since they all started 1-1. See you Tuesday around lunch time to continue market coverage of the NBA Playoffs.


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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