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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, May 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Second round action in the Eastern Division got underway this past weekend, and we discussed those series in our Saturday report. As promised, we’re back with a special Monday update to talk about the Western brackets. Opponents for San Antonio and Oklahoma City weren’t finalized until Game Sevens were played Saturday Night and Sunday afternoon.

Here’s what sharps are thinking in the LA Lakers/Oklahoma City series that begins Monday Night, and the LA Clippers/San Antonio series that gets underway Tuesday Night.

 

LA LAKERS AT OKLAHOMA CITY

Sharps pounded Oklahoma City out of the gate to win the series, even at an opening price that surprised some people because it was so high. The Thunder opened at -350 to win the series (+290 for the return on the Lakers as a dog). The Wise guys drove the line all the way up to -450 as we go to press (and it was higher in a few spots before finding some equilibrium here). The return on the Lakers is +375.

Why the enthusiasm for the Thunder? Our discussions with sharps suggest the main factor is fatigue. Oklahoma City was going to be favored anyway, as they’re the younger more energetic team with more consistent scoring options. But, when the Lakers had to go seven games in an up-tempo series with a short rotation, sharps committed to backing OKC as soon as a line went up. That’s exactly what happened. Vegas oddsmakers anticipated some of this with a line of -350 (maybe it would have been -250 or so if the Lakers had dispatched Denver in five games). Sharps thought -350, -400, and -425 were steals.

The Game One line has also jumped, with an opener of OKC -6.5 now up to -7.5 as we go to press. The Thunder will be decisive favorites in all home games played, and will be near pick-em on the road at Staples. In fact, this series is currently positioned to match the lines in OKC/Dallas from back in the first round.

The total in Game One has been bet down because of strong Under interest. An opener of 193 is now down to 191. Sharps expect a more defensive style from the Lakers now that Metta World Peace is back in the lineup (and he shut down multiple Denver threats in Saturday’s dramatic finale). Lakers players are talking the talk about defense as well. Both the information guys AND the numbers guys think 193 overshot the mark as the opening total here.

For now, the sharps are all over OKC. We may see some one-game Lakers investments later in the series if they ever get their legs back. That may not get a chance to happen though with a back-to-back scheduled for Friday and Saturday Nights in this series for Games Three and Four in Los Angeles.

 

LA CLIPPERS AT SAN ANTONIO

Oddsmakers posted a humongous opening line of -3000 in this series, basically doing what they could to discourage bets on the Spurs. Who wants to risk $300 to win $10? Only the deepest pocketed sharps would play around with that kind of line. And, those are the guys who are more likely to take a flyer on the big dog and hope for some injuries (Philadelphia was a huge dog in the Chicago series you’ll recall).

Money has come in on the Clippers at the very high price, and we’re now seeing Spurs -2100 (still risking $210 to win $10), while the return on the Clippers is +1300.

Not much movement on the opening game line, which opened way up at San Antonio -11. Oklahoma City offered value in the minds of sharps at -6.5, but not any more at -7.5. The Spurs weren’t offering value even with a fantastic rest advantage with a line as high as -11. Would the sharps come in on the Clippers at +11.5 of +12? Most of the guys we’re talking to would rather wait to invest on the Clippers until they see how Blake Griffin is moving.

The total has come down a point from an opener of 191.5 to 190.5.

It will be interesting to see if perceptions of these two series will change in the second week (if there’s going to be a second week for the exhausted LA teams!). Right now, there’s an extremely strong assumption that Oklahoma City and San Antonio won’t have a difficult time qualifying for their anticipated showdown in the Western Conference finals. There’s more intrigue and mystery in the East, where Miami is now dealing with an injury to Chris Bosh that may keep him out for a couple of weeks, and Philadelphia and Boston just played a Game One nailbiter that could set the tone for a tight series.

Don’t forget that the sharpest minds in the handicapping industry post their top plays every day right here at the VegasSportsMasters website.

Monday Night’s Highlights:

JIM HURLEY has posted a TNT Game of the Week in Monday Night basketball. A couple of diamond delights are included as a bonus on this $20 report.

KELSO STURGEON won a 50-Unit baseball play on Sunday, and is now unleashing a 50-Unit Money Line Game of the Week. That favorite of -1.5 runs in a Monday matchup can be purchased for just $25. A basketball parlay is yours for just $15.

Major moves have also been posted by others in our stable of industry legends. Click on your favorite and have your credit card handy.  

See you later this week with an update on sharp reactions to early second round games in the 2012 NBA Playoffs…

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