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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Oddsmakers were well aware that “the whole world” would be looking to bet that pre-series favorite Golden State Warriors would bounce back strong in Game Four of the 2015 NBA Finals. The trick was finding a price that would make sure that bettors were paying a premium for one of the most obvious “must-win” situations of all time.

So…even though:

*Golden State was -6 in a series opener that was tied after 48 minutes

*Golden State was -8 in the second game that was also tied after 48 minutes

*Golden State was -2 on the road in a game they lost by five

The Warriors opened as favorites of -2.5 for Thursday’s critical fourth game. They’ve yet to lead by three points at the end of regulation even with two HOME games! Why are they favored by that much on the road?

*They’re still seen as the superior of the two teams talent-wise

*They’re seen as long overdue to start making their three-pointers

*They absolutely MUST win this game or they’re down 3-1 in the series

*There’s a chance LeBron James and his shorthanded rotation will start to wear down

As a composite, the market thought Golden State was about 5 points better than Cleveland on a neutral court after the injury to Kyrie Irving. That’s why the Warriors were -8 at home in Game Two, and then -2 on the road in Game Three. Market composites can be stubborn. So, even if that “five” should be lower, the fact that Golden State has its backs to the wall has generated an opener of -2.5 And…some stores are testing the full three as I write this Thursday morning Las Vegas time.

How are sharps betting?

 

Game Four: Cleveland at Golden State Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC

Sharps are aware of the power of “bounce back” or “must win” spots when it’s the superior team that’s in trouble. They would have been all over Golden State had the game opened pick-em or -1. But, the opener of -2.5 successfully quelled Wise Guy action that would have come in on the Warriors in advance of the public. With a line of -2.5…it’s mostly “dog or pass” for the sharps on the team side.

I’ll be watching betting action through the day to see if sharps bite hard on Cleveland +3. That wouldn’t surprise me because Cleveland support continues to be rewarded in recent playoff action. I believe we’ll either see a tug-of-war between Golden State -2.5 and Cleveland +3…or a tick higher at Golden State -3 and Cleveland +3.5. I don’t expect to see anything above the three for very long if that comes into play. But, you never know for sure how game day “bandwagon” betting will unfold. We do know for sure that the Wise Guys didn’t “love” Golden State at -2.5 or that line would have risen very quickly off the opener.

As I’ve discussed all through the postseason, oddsmakers and sharps continue to chase reality when it comes to finding the right Over/Under numbers. All three games in this series have stayed Under the posted total in regulation…

*Game One landed on 196 after 48 minutes vs. a total of 204

*Game Two landed on 174 after 48 minutes vs. a total of 200.5

*Game Three landed on 187 vs. a total of 195 (even with a 60-point fourth quarter!)

That continues an extreme trend toward the Under through Golden State’s postseason. Oddsmakers dropped to 193 for this game...a number which has largely stood pat from opener to right now. Stubborn quants sticking with their Overs have given up for now. The public usually bets Overs…but has no reason to in this series. Plus, anyone expecting a scoring explosion tonight has invested in Golden State already…as they’re the team more likely to cover a game with a scoring explosion.

 

Odds to Win the Series

Golden State -115

Cleveland -105

Wow…that’s quite a big difference from the -700 we saw for Golden State after they won Game One and Kyrie Irving was ruled out for the series. Golden State is still the favorite to come back and win because they are -2.5 points Thursday, and then would be around -7 or -8 at home in Games Five and Seven. Being down 2-1 isn’t an insurmountable deficit, particularly for the “superior team.” Bettors must decide if those perceptions of Cleveland as inferior are still valid. The Cavs have outperformed the value of home court in all three games so far.

Don’t forget that you can purchase all of my NBA Playoff selections and great daily baseball right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about combination packages, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 any weekday during regular business hours

Back with you midday Sunday for Game Five, as the series moves back to the West Coast. The likely (though not yet certain) Game Six in Cleveland will be covered for you Tuesday. Thanks very much for reading. See you next time.

 

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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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