Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Monday, April 23, 2018 at 3:00 PM
Everybody knew that the Philadelphia 76ers were a team of the future in the NBA. Many sharps I’m talking to are now seeing them as a team of the present. The Wise Guys have been confidently backing Philadelphia in its series with Miami (2-1-1 ATS so far). Philadelphia is also getting respect in futures prices (though sharps tend not to bet those preferring to roll over parlays at series prices for a bigger return).
How far can Philadelphia go this season?
*They’re already up 3-1 on Miami, and a virtual lock to advance with two more home games if needed. Philadelphia had two games where it made 18 three-pointers, winning those by 27 and 20 points. Nobody’s beating this team when they shoot like that.
*They will face the winner of Boston/Milwaukee in the next round, and would be a prohibitive series favorite over either. That might surprise some of you because Boston is a #2 seed. Boston closed a home underdog to Milwaukee back in Game Two…and was around +5 of +6 on the road. Everybody I know has Philadelphia power-rated at least 3-4 points better than Boston right now on a neutral court.
*They will face the survivor of Toronto/Washington/Cleveland/Indiana for the Eastern title. That was expected to be either Toronto or Cleveland. But, both of those teams have been shaky enough in 2-2 series that neither is a sure thing to go deep. Philadelphia would be a series favorite over Cleveland thanks to home court advantage. (Well, they SHOULD be…maybe the market would respond to public pressure and make Cleveland a short favorite.) Philadelphia would be a series underdog to Toronto if that matchup started today. Perceptions might change in a couple of weeks.
*They would likely run into a brick wall in the form of Golden State or Houston, as the Eastern champ usually does. No shame in that.
Some of you may be thinking that 10/1 is a bad bet to win the league championship because there’s no way Philly will beat the Western champ. Some longtime Vegas bettors don’t mind that bet because they can hedge back for a profit if Philly wins the East. They call it “selling stock” on a value team. If you believe the Sixers have a great chance to win the East, the best way to play that is to bet them to win their second-round series…then roll over your return on the series price in the Eastern finals.
A few other NBA playoff notes:
*Sharps are surprised Houston has had such trouble with Minnesota. The first game was close. The third was a blowout for the underdog. Many Wise Guys are re-thinking their team ratings that had Houston best in the west entering the postseason.
*Sharps were caught flat-footed at first by New Orleans (+5.5 and +6.5 at Portland), but reacted in time to win the finale. A lot of old school guys took a big loss in that series…assuming Portland would bounce back after falling behind 1-0, 2-0, and 3-0. No bounce, or zig zag. Just a flat line.
*Quants have been all over Milwaukee since the end of Game One against Boston. The Bucks were driven to short home favorite in Boston in the spot after the overtime game. Then, Milwaukee was a stout 6-point favorite on its home floor. That’s well over the standard value of home court. Not something you’d expect to see in a #2 vs. #7 matchup…the #7 laying that much at home. Old school sharps preferring Boston have gotten the best of that series so far (Celtics 3-1 ATS).
*If you had asked any sharp (or square) how the rest of the Toronto/Washington series would play out when the Raptors had a big halftime lead in Washington in Game 4…everyone would have told you the Raptors would close out strong for a 3-1 series led, then finish things off at home. Washington rallied to even the series. Will Toronto ever figure out how to win important playoff games? Sharps who hit Toronto hard to win the East are re-thinking their opinion.
College basketball is my first love. But, I enjoy handicapping the NBA Playoffs because a good read on a series can pay off a few times instead of just once. If you know a team matches up well against Duke, you cover as a dog and that’s the end of it. If you know an NBA team matches up well with an opponent, more winners and more profit.
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Thanks for reading. I’ll see you again Friday. We’ll see what happens between now and then. Might be more on the NBA, or we’ll check in on baseball.