Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 1:00 PM
Sharps are off to a sluggish start so far in the Eastern and Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. They generally supported Atlanta in both games against Cleveland. You saw late steam in both cases. As you know, the Hawks lost both of those games, looking horrible in the process. Many sharps also had Golden State in Game One of the West on the assumption that Houston would come in tired. The Rockets have been anything but tired in covering the first two games as big road underdogs.
Let’s see what early betting is showing after the site switches. We’re in Houston and Cleveland for the first time this round. Will those teams keep covering spreads? Will we keep having nothing but Unders on the totals?
Houston at Golden State (Tonight at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN): We do have a big adjustment here on both the side and the total. Oddsmakers took care of that with an opener of Golden State -1 and a total of 216. Remember that Golden State only dropped from around -10 to around -4 in the Memphis series. Here the line fell from around -10 to -1 with the site switch because the Rockets have been so competitive. Some initial money came in on GS to push the opener to -1.5. in some spots. But, lately, it’s swung back the other way. Some stores are testing pick-em. We have some syndicates that believe in the Rockets.
The Over/Under has been bet down from 216 to 214.5. And, this is after the first two games were priced up around 220! It’s clear that one of Golden State’s main defensive goals is to make James Harden dribble around for awhile before attacking the basket. That really slowed down the last three quarters Friday (in a game that could only make it to 197). The quants might come in on the Over if 214 is breached. The numbers guys aren’t betting with much confidence though, as their projections have overshot the final scoreboard in all four Conference Final games thus far.
(Note: the series price is now Golden State –2800 as the Warriors are still prohibitive favorites to survive the round. Houston’s covering spreads, but hasn’t won a game straight up yet. The return on the Rockets to win four of the next five is around +1200.)
Cleveland at Atlanta (Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT): Kyle Korver got hurt in Game Two for Atlanta…who was already looking relatively hopeless because Korver wasn’t making many treys. Oddsmakers opened Cleveland at -8 even though it’s far from certain that Kyrie Irving will play for the hosts. That’s way above what was expected for a Cleveland home prices before this series began. Remember they were around -5 at home for the Bulls series, and the Hawks were better seeded than the Bulls.
First money came in on Cleveland, pushing that line of -8 up to a widely available -8.5. I’m seeing some -9 out there too as I write this. This by itself is not hopeful news about Korver’s prospects. Perhaps some “old school” money that backs big dogs on principle would come in at +9.5 (certainly at +10). I expect most sharps to wait for injury news to get pinned down. And, then it’s likely that a lot of sharps will just pass this team side. No evidence yet that Atlanta can be trusted to compete in this series. That’s a very high price for a favorite that tends to coast and sit on leads.
The Over/Under opened at 190, which is down from the 199.5 and 193 that we saw down in Atlanta. The final scoreboards showed 186 and 176. The market is still chasing reality. The first move here did go UP though, as we’re now seeing 190.5. Perhaps that’s because the Bulls/Cavs games played in Cleveland landed on 191, 197, and 207.
(Note: the series price is now Cleveland –3000 or so, which means the Cavs are bigger favorites than Golden State to reach the Finals! That’s what winning two road games will do for your series odds. Downtrodden Atlanta is +1400 to come back for the series shocker.
Even though Cleveland is a slightly bigger favorite to reach the finals now, Golden State is still the clear favorite to lift the trophy. They will be chalk over the Cavs head-to-head if form holds.
Odds to Win Championship
Golden State -220
Atlanta off the board in places pending status of Korver
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I’ll see you again midday Monday (Memorial Day) to look at sharp betting in both Game Fours. Thanks for reading!
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