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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 11:00 AM

I’ll also talk about early betting action in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals matching the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. That series doesn’t start until Wednesday, but series and Game One prices were up and bettable all weekend.

We begin with today’s final second round game…as the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets battle to see who will take on the Golden State Warriors in the Western Finals that begin Tuesday.

Los Angeles Clippers at Houston (Today at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC): Las Vegas was shocked like the rest of the world this past Thursday night when the Houston Rockets finished on an incredible 49-18 run to stay alive in this series. Computer models had the Clippers at slightly better than 99% to advance when they led by 19 in the third quarter. There are no sure things in sports betting! This line opened at Clippers -1.5. It’s been bet up to -2 and -2.5 since then. Looks like a tug-of-war developing between Clippers money at -2, and Rockets money at +2.5. It’s much easier to take a shot on the Rockets now that they’re trying to guard people on defense…and that the offense remembered how spreading the wealth can put points on the board quickly.

Note that a line of Clippers -2 suggests that LAC is FIVE points better on a neutral court. Some sharps accept that as a “playoff” Power Rating differential because of Houston’s inconsistency. But, it wasn’t the perception entering the playoffs. And, it’s certainly not a consensus view now. Old school sharps in particular like getting a home team +2.5 in a Game Seven scenario.

The Over/Under has been bet down from an opener of 220.5 to 220. It’s been an all Over series so far, landing on 218, 224, 223, 223, 227, and 226. Game Seven’s often slow down into defensive half court battles. It remains to be seen if these teams will play that way since they haven’t yet in the series. A half point move really isn’t much of anything for a game that’s been on the board as long as this one has.

Summing it up…sharps generally like the Clippers at -1.5 and -2, but Houston money comes in at +2.5. Slight nod to the Under at 220.5 but it seems to be a Wise Guy pass at 220.

Cleveland at Atlanta (Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT): Atlanta opened at -1. And that’s largely stood pat. It’s interesting here because Cleveland is favored in the series at a price up around -210 or -220 (with a return of about +180 to +190 on Atlanta). Yet, the Hawks have home court advantage and may be at least slight favorites in each of those games if the series goes the distance. Remember that a line of -1 is basically a coin flip, and it’s assumed in the markets that Cleveland will win at least one of those coin flips, while taking care of business at around -5 or -6 at home in Games 3, 4, and 6 (if needed).

Sharp money was taking Cleveland for the series when that option went up. We can at least see that sharps don’t like Atlanta much in Game One or that low opener would have risen. There is a chance that sharps are assuming the public is going to want to bet on LeBron James…which has them biding their time to see if pick-em of Atlanta +1 becomes available before that distant Wednesday tip off. We’ll talk more about that in a couple of days.  

I’m planning a midday Tuesday report that will cover Game 1 from both Golden State (Tuesday) and Atlanta (Wednesday). I’ll also try to look at the series price in the West for you at that time. Note that Golden State has moved slightly past pick-em against the field in terms of winning the championship. Their final three victories in the Memphis series really impressed the marketplace. The markets are expecting a Golden State/Cleveland final. Golden State would probably be near pick-em in road games in that series, and up around -5 or -6 at home (depending on how perceptions might change in the conference finals).

Don’t forget that I post game day NBA Playoff selections right here at the website. You can purchase those with your credit card (along with my best baseball plays). If you have any questions about extended service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 today before tipoff of Clippers/Rockets or during normal business hours Monday. Please ask about combination packages for both basketball and baseball when you call.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy today’s Game 7 showdown in Houston. I’ll see you again on Tuesday.

 

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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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