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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Back as promised to look at sharp action for tonight’s second game of the Western Conference Finals matching Houston and Golden State, as well as Friday’s second game in the East featuring Cleveland and Atlanta. I’ll come back every other day to cover Wise Guy betting in this format through this round.

It was Houston getting the money in the first game out West, even though Golden State took a 1-0 series lead with a 110-106 victory. Sharps who thought Houston would be exhausted from its seven-game survival against the Los Angeles Clippers were surprised by the competitiveness of that opener. Let’s see what’s happening in the rematch.

 

Houston at Golden State (Tonight at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN): Las Vegas

Golden State actually opened at -11, which is higher than the close of Game One. Oddsmakers were apparently anticipating Warriors money to come back in harder after the non-cover. The first move was down to Houston +10.5. Wise Guys who cashed with Houston didn’t mind seeing the full +11 out of the gate. Some of those like playing the straight up bounce back too, which made the Rockets even more appealing in their eyes.

Still, there are quants and other sharps who do think Golden State can name the score whenever they take the floor in this series. That will prevent the number from dropping too low. As I post this, I’m seeing a solid Golden State -10.5 everywhere. Clear to me that sharps would be investing in GS -10 on one end, or Houston +11 on the other. So, we may not budge off the 10.5 between now and tip-off. If we do budge, it won’t be for long.

The Over/Under opened at 219.5, and has largely stood pat. Some stores are testing 220, which was where Game One finished at most stores (before the game itself landed on 216). Not much sharp interest here. I expect to see something around 220 through the series unless there’s a tempo switch on the floor.

(Note: the series price is now Golden State –1800, after sitting in the -850 range entering Game One. You have to bet $180 to win $10! The market can’t imagine Houston winning four of the next six games against the league superpower. The return on the Rockets right now is around +1000)

Cleveland at Atlanta (Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT): The first number up was pick-em. But, that was bet to Atlanta -1 quickly…which is where the game sits as I write this. You may be aware that late steam lifted the Game One line up to Atlanta -2.5. I believe that was because on-site “scouts” spotted that Kyrie Irving wasn’t moving very well in pre-game warm-ups. Some had expected the five-day layoff to help him move better. When it was clear that wasn’t the case, respected Atlanta money came in hard. And lost! No sure things in sports betting. It’s also possible that all the media talk about “LeBron never winning road openers” influenced the market as well. He’s won one now.

The bounce-back guys will be playing Atlanta here, as will many of the Wise Guys who thought the Hawks made sense at -1, -1.5, or -2 on Wednesday. The public usually likes to bet LeBron, which should keep the number in check. Possibly a tug-of-war developing for the hours right before tipoff. I can tell you that the math guys are having serious troubles in the postseason with Atlanta because the Hawks are playing so far below their regular season norms.

The opening total of 197 has nudged up to 197.5. Remember that Game One opened at 198…went down initially…but then soared to 199.5 at tipoff. More bad steam as the teams only made it to 186 in Cleveland’s 97-89 victory.

(Note: the series price is now Cleveland –500 or so, after settling around -220 prior to Game One. Atlanta is +400 to come back and take the series. There are quants that like that +400 because of Atlanta’s regular season stats. All the Hawks have to do is win one road game to take back home court in this series. The team just isn’t providing any reasons on the floor right now to trust that they can rally.)

I ran the championship odds last time. Here’s a quick update that represents a mix of what I’m seeing at a variety of locales across the spectrum.

 

Odds to Win Championship

Golden State -220

Cleveland +350

Atlanta +2200

Houston +2500

Obviously the market is anticipating a Golden State/Cleveland final in fairly dramatic fashion. Let’s see if the series underdogs throw any monkey wrenches into that Thursday or Friday.

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 during normal business hours. Please ask about combination packages for both basketball and baseball when you call.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back again midday Saturday to look at both Game Three’s as we switch sites to Houston and Cleveland. See you then.

 

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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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