Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, April 13, 2018 at 1:56 PM
There wasn't a lot of buzz in Las Vegas about the tail end of the NBA regular season. Bettors were much more focused on March Madness in college basketball. They knew that the pro PLAYOFFS would be much more fun to bet because all of the players would be trying. It's depressing to see how bad late-season NBA has gotten in the era where tanking is embraced (though denied by the commissioner).
The fun finally starts Saturday with the first four openers in Round One. Everyone else takes the floor Sunday. Here's a look at how sharps have been betting this weekend's games.
San Antonio at Golden State (3:05 p.m. ET on Saturday)
Vegas shops opened at either Golden State -8 or -8.5. The line has settled at a solid -8 almost across the board now. Clear dog interest showed at the outliers of +8.5. Nobody's nibbling at -8 right now. That tells you sharps don't like the chalk at that price, and are waiting to see if the public drives the line higher before tip-off. May not happen with Steph Curry being out for this series for Golden State. We'll either see a tug-of-war Saturday morning between GS -8 and SA +8.5. Or, the public will pass, and old school sharps will have to settle for the eight.
Washington at Toronto (5:35 p.m. ET on Saturday)
Most stores are also on eight here, with Toronto laying that number. Though, any outliers are a tick lower at Toronto -7.5. The Raptors have such a bad publicly known history in Game One's that the public isn't likely to lay -8. Sharps know that John Wall is too much of a disruptive influence right now on the Wizards to trust with a big investment. Value bettors, and some quants, will take the Wizards at +8. Squares seem more interested in other games right now.
Miami at Philadelphia (8:05 p.m. ET on Saturday)
Here, we're hopping between Philadelphia -6.5 and Miami +7. I'm getting mixed signals from sharps in this one. Some really like Philadelphia as a sleeper in the Eastern brackets. They will be betting Philly here, in the next round vs. the winner of Boston/Milwaukee, and in the Eastern Finals against whoever survives from Toronto and Cleveland. But, some of the old school guys don't trust "the process," and believe the Sixers are overpriced at the moment. So, different factions of sharps on different sides right now, both betting their preferred number. We'll have to see how the public bets Saturday.
New Orleans at Portland (10:35 p.m. ET on Saturday)
Stores that opened at Portland -5 were bet up right away to Portland -5.5. I don't think we'll see the full six tested because there's a lot of respect for Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in terms of playing competitive basketball. Quants who love Portland's "math" got in at the five when and where it was available. Any move off the 5.5 would probably be brought right back to it from either direction. This might be a heavily bet game because it's the final matchup on the Saturday card, and in prime time out here in Las Vegas. But, the series as a whole is more for purists than the general public.
Milwaukee at Boston (1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday)
Not much oddsmaker respect for Boston at opening lines of -2.5 or -3 offshore and in Las Vegas. Sharps drive the line all the way up to -4, where it's settled for the time being. Yes, Boston will be without Kyrie Irving for the full playoffs. But, this is a well-coached team that emphasizes defense, which isn't something you can say about Milwaukee. We'll have to see if the public comes in on the past "name value" of Boston, or leaves this one alone. Sharps are happy with their early positions, but dog lovers would come in if +4.5 comes into play.
Indiana at Cleveland (3:35 p.m. ET on Sunday)
A tall opener of Cleveland -6.5 is already giving the Cavaliers full credit for the extra intensity they bring to the playoffs. Sharps weren't interested in the chalk at that price. Indiana's been a great cover team all season and Cleveland has been burning money. Sharps are waiting to see if the public drives the number higher before Sunday's tip-off. I know some guys who will LOVE Indiana at +7. We'll either see a tug-of-war between the public on Cleveland -6.5 and sharps on Indiana +7...or we'll sit on 6.5 all weekend in my opinion.
Utah at Oklahoma City (6:35 p.m. ET on Sunday)
A lot of early action here. Sharps are jumping on Utah at +3.5 whenever it's on the board (that's where it opened at most spots). But, there's enough interest in OKC at -3 already to lift the line back up here and there. Already a tug-of-war even though the public isn't betting yet and tip-off isn't until late Sunday afternoon. I can tell you that sharps who emphasize defense really like Utah here, and are betting the Jazz to win the series too.
Minnesota at Houston (9:05 p.m. ET on Sunday)
A lot of quant interest on Houston at the openers of either -10 or -10.5, and even at -11. We're seeing -11.5 at most stores in Nevada right now. This underdog matches up very poorly in terms of X's and O's. You could see that in the regular season meetings. And, Houston's analytics approach will have them trying to get this series over as soon as possible to rest up. The numbers guys also liked the fact that Minnesota had to go overtime on the final night of the season to clinch a playoff spot. Though, getting to play in the late game Sunday helped alleviate that some. Might take the full twelve to bring old school sharps in on this ugly dog.
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Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend! I'll see you again early next week.