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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Huge weekend in the NBA Playoffs, with a pair of series from the Western Conference going to a dramatic seventh game, and the two second round affairs in the Eastern Conference getting underway. Let’s see what the sharps (professional wagerers) think about this weekend’s busy and important card. .

 

WESTERN GAME SEVENS

DENVER AT LA LAKERS (Saturday Night)

Clear interest on the total here, as sharps bet the Under at the opener of 198. We’re now seeing 196.5 as we go to press. Sharps generally like Unders in Game Sevens, particularly when the total is this high. Teams usually clamp down on defense with their seasons on the line, and the pace slows down in the second half because every possession is so important.

Sharps initially bet the Lakers -5 at the opener because of the return of Metta World Peace. The line sat at -6 for an extended period, but is now down to only -5.5 because of some Denver game day interest at +6. Most of the sharps we’ve talked to think the six was too high given the tone of this series in recent days. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts between now and tipoff. The public likes betting Kobe Bryant, and prefers home favorites in seventh games. Many sharps liked Denver to win the series initially (you’ll recall the series priced dropped early on), and expect tonight’s affair to be competitive.

 

LA CLIPPERS AT MEMPHIS (Sunday Afternoon)

The line was slow in coming up here because of the injury situation for the Clippers. Once a number did go up, Memphis was hit fairly hard by first responders. Memphis opened at -6.5, and has been bet up to -8 as we go to press. Maybe Clippers interest will bring that line back down before tipoff. What we can tell you is that the sharps who liked Memphis wanted to get in right away on the chance that Clippers injuries would turn out to be a major news story before tipoff. If it looks like everyone’s recovered well right before tipoff, this early money can buy back on the dog at the higher price with little concern.

We don’t think Memphis is going to be unanimous sentiment from the sharps. Those who liked Memphis know they needed to bet early. Those who like the Clippers benefit from seeing how high the line will go.

 

EASTERN GAME ONES

BOSTON AT PHILADELPHIA (Saturday Night)

Betting action has been fairly quiet here. Boston opened at -5.5 and stayed there for several hours. This morning the line is down to Boston -5, representing value interest on the dog…but not any sort of bandwagon excitement. The total hasn’t moved yet off the opener of 170.5. Sharps we’ve talked to believe this will be a defensive-minded series to be sure. But, intense defense usually comes later in a series rather than in the first game. The guys who want to bet Unders will wait a couple of games. The math guys couldn’t justify an Over based on all the games these teams have played below 170 in regulation recently. So, no move.

Note that Boston is -230 in the series price, which represents respect for Philadelphia because #8 seeds usually don’t return as little at +190 against any top four caliber seed.

 

MIAMI AT INDIANA (Sunday Afternoon)

This line has stood pat on the side and total, with Miami opening at -8.5 and 188.5. We’ve often told you that a non-move usually means one of two things. Either sharps don’t like the game and they’re passing, or sharps like the dog and they’re waiting to see if they get a better number once the squares (the public) start betting. It’s the latter here. Sharps are waiting to see if they can get +9 on the Pacers before investing. They know the public likes betting on LeBron James. And, his winning of the MVP award might help drive that tendency even more.

There’s respect for Miami of course…but we haven’t talked to any sharps who would tell you that Miami -8.5 would be considered “value.” Note that the Heat are -900 on the series price, with Indiana returning +650. Sharps know Miami is the better team…but more than a few have called that very high line “a joke.” Sharps who are betting that price are taking the dog for value. Nobody’s suggesting Miami is a smart bridge jumper bet. Any Miami money we’ve seen from respected sources has been on -450 to -500 to win the East. Miami would be such a clear favorite in the next round…that betting them to win the East is the same thing as betting them to beat Indiana in the view of some sharps.

That wraps up our look at sharp action in weekend NBA. Don’t forget that the sharpest minds in handicapping post their plays right here at VegasSportsMasters. Highlights on tap Saturday:

KELSO STURGEON is releasing a 50-unit Upset Knockout in the Denver/Lakers game. Kelso has been on fire thus far in the NBA postseason…and this is one of his biggest plays yet. Note that there’s also a 50-unit play in baseball.

JIM HURLEY has MAJOR MOVES in both basketball games and two bonus baseball picks to create a SATURDAY SLAM SPECTACULAR.

All the VSM masters are featuring two-sport specials today. Link up with your favorite and get the money!

Have a great Mother’s Day weekend! We’ll have a special “sharps” report Monday to discuss the second round matchups in the Western Conference…where San Antonio and Oklahoma City are anxiously awaiting this weekend’s Game Seven winners.

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