Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 4:00 PM
We’re down to the final four in the NBA Playoffs. In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon in Game One. In the West, the Golden State Cavaliers visit the Houston Rockets Monday night to tip that one off.
We have a unique circumstance in that the ROAD teams, meaning the two teams that enter the matchups without home court advantage, are the favorites to advance. That’s could create some interesting betting opportunities. Both Cleveland and Golden State HAVE to win a road game to advance…and both will likely be near pick-em in road games. Yet, both are expensive to take for the series. Is it better to just keep backing them on the road?
Sharps have been thinking about those approaches already. But, the Wise Guys have already stepped in on the favorites at more affordable early series prices. Back on Monday, I talked to you about the importance of betting early. Strong evidence for that already in series betting.
I’ll run through sharp betting so far in the order these games will tip off
CLEVELAND AT BOSTON
Series Price: Cleveland -300, Boston +240
Game One: Cleveland -1.5, total of 204
For the series, Cleveland opened in the low 200’s and was bet up very quickly by sharps. Every professional bettor I’ve talked to believes that Boston has no real way defensively to stop LeBron James. That’s why the Cavs have owned the Celtics in recent playoff action. Boston normally protects the arc and hopes its inside defenders can hold their own. You can’t stop LeBron one-on-one, which means Boston will have to double-team him and allow some open looks on three-pointers. That’s how Cleveland crushed Toronto.
But, the markets did find the number that ended Cleveland betting and inspired some underdog shots on Boston. Old school guys who took the Celtics vs. Philadelphia at a great price are taking some shots now at +240. And, there’s always a chance LeBron gets hurt, or Cleveland has some cold shooting games.
The public doesn’t get too involved in series prices unless their favorite team is involved. There was some square Cleveland money on the way up to -300. Squares are more likely to bet Cleveland on a game-by-game basis, especially if any bounce-back spots come up.
Game One opened with Boston as a small favorite at -1.5. You can see the favorites have flipped the other way. Cleveland is now -1.5. That’s both sharp and square action. While both teams impressed in winning their second-round matchups (Cleveland sweeping Toronto, Boston beating Philadelphia 4-1), the eye test was strongly for the Cavs. Cleveland played great, while Boston hustled hard to take advantage of sloppy (and dumb) play from Philadelphia. Tougher to make that work vs. Cleveland’s experienced hands.
We are seeing some sharp dog nibbles at +1.5. More interest would definitely hit the market if the line moves up to Cleveland -2. Old school sharps in particularly would like a fresh home underdog getting a bucket.
So, sharps like Cleveland at -1 or better, but would come in on Boston at +2 or higher.
Quants bet the Over from 203 to 204 because both offenses are likely to attack the basket. That either scores easy inside shots or draws fouls. Game Five of Boston/Philly flew Over because of free throws.
GOLDEN STATE AT HOUSTON
Series Price: Golden State -200, Houston +170
Game One: Houston -1.5, total of 224
During the regular season, Houston had market equality with Golden State. The Rockets were “built to beat Golden State” according to media hype. Then, Steph Curry’s injury made the Warriors seem vulnerable.
That’s not the case any more. Sharps…particularly quants…have been hitting the Warriors since Curry got healthy. And, many locals have made big money betting Golden State in recent seasons. They couldn’t believe how cheap their Warriors had become! They’re not cheap any more, with sharp and square action driving the series prices up to -200.
I’ve talked to a few sharps who didn’t like the look of James Harden late in the Utah series. Some thought he was trying to play through an injury. If Harden isn’t 100%, Houston has no chance to advance. The quants who assign a number to each player were getting gradings to Golden State if Harden was at 95% or less.
For Game One, we’re seeing a tug-of-war between Golden State +2 (where it opened at most places) and Houston -1.5. It’s possible the public keep coming in on this dog between now and tip-off, moving the line closer to pick-em. But, there is interest in Houston at -1.5 because the long layoff before the series opener should give Harden time to heal, or rest up.
The total has been bet down from 225 to 224. That’s not something you normally see in a series opener. Those skew higher in recent history. But, the market greatly overestimated scoring likelihood after Golden State and New Orleans had a couple of track meets. And, again, Houston’s scoring potential sinks if something’s up with Harden.
Las Vegas was disappointed none of the second round matchups went deep. But, fans here in town have been waiting all season for Golden State/Houston to begin. And, anything involving LeBron James is going to be heavenly bet. Sports books will be very busy these next few weeks.
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Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with you again on Monday.