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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 12:00 PM

It’s been a fairly quiet NBA season so far in Las Vegas. That’s typical, because the public just doesn’t bet much pro hoops until the playoffs. Visitors in the winter who love the NBA are often surprised at how quiet Vegas sportsbooks are on NBA game nights. Telecasts are on the big screen TVs…but hardly anyone’s sitting down and watching. This is a niche sport with intense passion within that niche. It just doesn’t translate to regular season betting from the general public.

Now…it was a bit different when Kobe Bryant was at his peak and helping the Los Angeles Lakers win championships. Las Vegas becomes a suburb of Los Angeles when something like that is happening. And, Kobe in particular had a way of connecting with fans out here on the West Coast. Maybe something like that will develop with Golden State and Steph Curry. We just might be in the early days of a Warriors dynasty that creates that kind of passion.

For now…the NBA market is almost exclusively “oddsmakers vs. sharps,” as we discussed yesterday in my college article. It’s even more extreme at the present time. A relatively small contingent of sharps who specialize in the NBA shape the openers posted by the best offshore minds. Square money won’t be an issue until the playoffs. And, it may not even be an issue then!

Part of the problem is that there just aren’t many teams worth paying attention to this season for casual fans. It’s assumed that either Golden State or San Antonio will win the West. Cleveland is a prohibitive favorite in the East. Since New York/Detroit is the showcase early game on TNT tonight, let’s look at those Eastern Futures prices…

 

ODDS TO WIN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

Cleveland -275

Toronto +800

Chicago +900

Atlanta +1300

Miami +1400

Indiana +2800

Boston +3300

Washington +4000

Detroit +6600

Charlotte +10000

New York +10000

Remember…those are just to win the East by itself. The ultimate survivor will be a dog to the Western Champs in the Finals. And, if it’s anyone besides Cleveland, that survivor will be a prohibitive dog. (Those are composite odds taken from across several sources…you can shop around to get better prices than you see above on any of those teams)

Toronto can make a very solid case for second best in the East right now (the Raptors visit Portland tonight, by the way). Chicago still gets respect from the market because of past history…but you won’t find too many sharps who believe coach Fred Hoiberg is ready for playoff success. Below that, it’s almost a “name out of a hat” scenario. Somebody’s going to make a run in the East…and Cleveland may ultimately have to deal with a tough challenge. For now, it’s not clear who that’s going to be.

New York and Detroit from tonight’s TV listings are well off the championship pace. Some quick notes on those teams if you’re going to watch tonight’s doubleheader…

*New York may be hitting a wall lately. They’ve had trouble matching up with good teams. So, a 29-22 ATS record may be painting too rosy a picture. The Knicks have failed to cover six of their last 10. And, one of those covers was a 10-point loss at Toronto when they were getting 12 points. Things are moving in the right direction compared to the recent past. But, the league is making some adjustments. And relying on a key rookie can be dangerous when that rookie starts to get tired midseason!

*Detroit is climbing back to respectability under Stan Van Gundy. But, I have to say I’m disappointed with their road play this season. They fall apart too often. The Pistons have a very nice 15-7 ATS record at home. They’re just 11-16 ATS on the road. Consistency has been an issue. Some sharps have told me this team drives them nuts because they’ll play badly when you think they’re ready for a big game…but then bounce back strong when it looks like a slump is about to start.

In tonight’s game, Detroit opened at -5.5 and 203.5. Sharps have shaped those down to Detroit -4 and 202. (In Game Two of the TNT doubleheader, New Orleans is -10.5 and 209 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers).

Most of my basketball selections through February will be in college basketball. But, I’ll try to provide some market perspective in the NBA for you here on Thursdays through the month. Come March, we’ll focus almost exclusively on the college tournaments…before picking up with the NBA again come playoff time.

You can purchase my top daily basketball selections right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

Back with you Friday for our final NFL report of the season. Some respected Denver money finally started showing up midweek for the Super Bowl matchup against Carolina. Any sharp contingent wanting the favorite bet early. Dog lovers were biding their time to see what they could get. Sportsbooks seemed intent on accepting a position against the public and Carolina, so the line just wasn’t going to move much more. We’ll talk about that in greater detail around lunchtime Friday.

Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow for that Super Bowl report.

 

Be sure to follow:

Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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