Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, April 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Though there’s still some work to do finishing up the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, professional wagerers (sharps) are already mapping out their betting plans for Round Two. They want to be ready to pounce on series prices as soon as the go up! And they will also hit Game One lines hard if they believe oddsmakers have posted soft openers.
From my discussions with sharps here in Nevada, I believe I have a pretty clear view of what they’re thinking.
GOLDEN STATE WILL COAST THROUGH SECOND ROUND
The Warriors are the best team in basketball by at least a few points in market Power Ratings. And, they’re getting an extended rest break while Utah and the LA Clippers determine their opponent. There’s little chance Golden State will have to sweat much of anything in the second round. Sure, there will likely be some close games, and possibly a road loss. But, the Warriors deserve to be prohibitive favorites to advance. They will look to get things over with quickly so they can rest up even more for the winner of the next series.
HOUSTON VS. SAN ANTONIO WILL BE A WAR
This should be a fantastic series to watch. Both teams have similar offensive philosophies in terms of ball movement. Houston uses that to set up three-point shots. San Antonio is more balanced, but does a great job of getting open looks on treys too. When it comes to pace though, these are exact opposites. Houston runs like crazy, San Antonio tries to play very slowly and wear down defenses in halfcourt sets. Whoever imposes their preferred style of play on the series will have the upper hand. Generally speaking, there’s more respect for San Antonio’s prospects because they have the much better defense and a tactically superior head coach. But, dog lovers will be tempted by Houston’s offensive explosiveness. Might be a series where zig-zag lovers really step up.
CLEVELAND VS. TORONTO COULD GET VERY INTERESTING
Cleveland has a history of rising to the occasion when bettors think they’re in the biggest danger. That means a lot here because Toronto is seen by sharps as their biggest threat in the Eastern Conference. Boston is a pretender as a #1 seed. Toronto is much better than Cleveland defensively and on the boards…and doesn’t mind a slow playoff pace. You could make a very good case that THIS is the Eastern Conference championship series even though it’s just a semifinal in that half of the draw. Many sharps are looking for ways to bet Toronto. Though, some want to wait and see if the public pushes up the series and game prices on the Cavs. I have to admit though…some anti-Cleveland sentiment from before the playoffs has faded since the Cavs swept Indiana. And, Toronto lovers were more than a little concerned after that slow start in the Milwaukee series. Are the Raptors ready to take this next step?
BOSTON FEELS LIKE A LONGSHOT EVEN AS A #1 SEED
Sharps were down on the Celtics anyway, because they were the worst #1 seed in NBA history in terms of regular margin differential. When they were outclassed at home by Rajon Rondo and the #8 seed Chicago Bulls TWICE?! Ugly. Rondo’s injury saved the Celtics from embarrassment. But, Boston is still better positioned than anyone else on this side of the brackets to reach the Eastern finals thanks to home court advantage. Sharps are well aware that Boston’s defense is spotty, their rebounding atrocious, and their offense over-reliant on Isaiah Thomas. They will be looking for value by backing Boston’s second round opponent at underdog prices.
I should take a few seconds to mention here that sharps are taking advantage of a slow-reacting market on Over/Unders. Any two teams are prone to settle into a consistent pace when they know they’ll be playing each other over several days. Maybe that’s run-and-gun (Atlanta and Washington has been faster than casual fans have realized). Maybe that’s a slow-paced wrestling match (San Antonio and Memphis was a very slow series even with all the Overs, as was Toronto-Milwaukee). The point is…the pace is consistent from game to game, which allows smart handicappers (and math mavens) to find soft spots if the market has been overly influenced by outdated regular season trends. If you want to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp, that means attacking Over/Unders in the second round.
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It’s a busy time in Las Vegas with the Kentucky Derby coming up on the first Saturday in May. The city was buzzing Thursday night with the first ever NFL draft props on the betting board. It’s a great time to join the fun. Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with you again to talk sharp betting as we get deeper into the NBA’s second round. See you next time.