Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Actually, this could be the shortest article I’ve ever written. THEY’RE NOT! As of midday Sunday, sharps aren’t involved very much at all in Game Five of the NBA Finals matching the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The opening Vegas line hasn’t budged. Even with two days off between games, there hasn’t yet been a flood of interest here in Nevada for betting this game.
But, as we learned back in Game Four on Thursday, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything about sharp intentions. In that discussion, I mentioned “you never know for sure how game day ‘bandwagon’ betting will unfold.” There’s still plenty of time for things to get interesting before Sunday night’s tipoff (which is actually at 5 p.m. West Coast time here and in Oakland).
We definitely saw one of the biggest late-day bandwagon effects in recent memory this past Thursday. It went something like this:
*Early-to-mid-afternoon Vegas time, one of the most respected sharp influences made it clear he was big on Golden State. Big money hit the board on Golden State at -2.5, and -3.
*Other sharp syndicates saw that, and came in hard on the Warriors as well, which helped lift the line to -4. The Wise Guys were absolutely pounding Golden State.
*The “runaway line” encouraged many squares to come in on the Warriors as well “because somebody must know something.” That additional public money led to a rise up to Golden State -4.5, with some stores even testing the five to try to bring in Cleveland action.
Now, there was some interest in Cleveland at the rising prices because the Cavs have a decent betting base and some sharps like to play contrarian. But, the flood of money on the Warriors dwarfed that, and sportsbooks became one-sided in a way that would hurt them pretty badly when Golden State coasted to a 103-82 victory.
You often hear that sportsbooks try to “balance the action” with their betting lines. In actual practice, that rarely happens. They ended up one-sided the wrong way here when the sharpest big money syndicates made an accurate read on a peak Golden State performance.
In the aftermath of THAT, there hasn’t been much betting yet for Game Five.
Game Five: Golden State at Cleveland Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC
The first number up offshore was Golden State by 9. Cleveland money nibbled at that enough to cause a drop to -8.5…which is where Las Vegas opened (remember that the lines “originate” offshore these days, as they have for a long time now). We’ve been sitting at that -8.5 ever since. I don’t expect any sort of investment avalanche for the Warriors this time because that’s a high line in a competitive series…and because Cleveland will have enjoyed a long rest break after enduring their toughest fatigue spot of the week. Golden State money is fat and happy after that Game Four victory, and in the driver’s seat for championship futures because they’re now about 80% to finish the job.
Sharp Cleveland money would definitely come in if the public pushes the line to +9. Cavs backers may have to settle for +8.5. Sharps know that the first two games at this site went Overtime…and that Cleveland will be motivated to run clock and shorten the game after letting pace get away from them the other night.
The Over/Under is up from an opener of 195 to 195.5, even though we’ve had four Unders in this series so far…and Game Four’s “quicker” back-and-forth only reached 185 on the scoreboard anyway. Unders in Golden State playoff games have been a printing press. Quants are learning something about how playoff basketball is different than the regular season.
Odds to Win the Series
Golden State -400
After a short trip near pick-em, we’re back to seeing Golden State as the prohibitive favorite to lift the trophy. They will probably be around -3 to -4 in Cleveland Tuesday (unless they lose here and it rises to -5), and then would be around -8.5 to -9 again in a seventh game if needed.
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Back with you midday Tuesday for Game Six in Cleveland. It’s been fun watching the markets for you through all of the basketball excitement during March Madness and the NBA Playoffs. Thanks for reading.
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