Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 10:00 AM
As promised, I’m back on Thursday instead of Friday because the NBA Finals matching the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers begins Thursday Night in Oracle Arena. I wanted to report to all of you how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting Thursday’s Game One and the full series thus far.
Unfortunately, the status of Kevin Love is dampening enthusiasm for early bettors. At least for those who are looking to bet Cleveland. Love suffered a concussion in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, and still hasn’t been cleared from protocol as I write this early Thursday morning Las Vegas time. That means a lot of Golden State money is already into the pool, but Cleveland money is biding its time.
Game One: Cleveland at Golden State
An opener of Golden State -11 has been bet all the way up to Golden State -12.5 or -13 as this article goes online. Some sharps liked the Warriors because Cleveland hasn’t played well in series openers yet.
First Round: Indiana (+7) beat Cleveland 98-80
Second Round: Cleveland (+7) beat Toronto 113-112 (closest win of series)
Third Round: Boston (+1.5) beat Cleveland 108-83
Huge blowout losses to Indiana and Boston. And, while the upset of Toronto was nice…that was more about Toronto choking than the Cavaliers coming out breathing fire. You could argue that was the worst game Cleveland played in that series sweep.
Add it all up, and you can see why quants would like Golden State -11 with a mix of statistical and situational handicapping. Now, not ALL sharps are expecting a rout. But, the Cleveland contingency has plenty of reason to wait. First, why not take your time to see how high the line goes before stepping in. Betting Cleveland +11 or +11.5 would have been dumb with a trip last 12 on the way. And, of course, the Love situation. Better to have him on the floor shooting jumpers than on the sideline in street clothes. That’s particularly true with a potential garbage time scenario at a double-digit point spread.
On the total, quants and old school sharps pounded the Under out of the gate. An opener of 218 has come all the way down to 214.5. You probably know that we saw a lot of Unders in the prior round. Six of seven games stayed Under in Golden State/Houston, at lines which were way too high given Houston’s recent preference for a slower pace and Golden State’s strong defense. Five of seven stayed Under in Cleveland/Boston, a very slow series that saw both teams struggle to make three-pointers consistently.
Will it go back up on game day with public betting? It’s possible, because many squares don’t know that Golden State plays great defense. But…that square mindset got killed betting Overs in the last round, and probably stopped halfway through. If Love is cleared to play in the afternoon, that would probably lift the total. He’s known for being a shooter who doesn’t play great defense. If Love must miss the game, sharp Under bettors are very happy with their early positions.
Series Price: Golden State vs. Cleveland
Golden State is a huge favorite to win the series. Each sports book is deciding what number it should put up to try to discourage “locals” from taking the obvious choice. One store had it as low as -900…only to see somebody bet big on the Warriors anyway to win 10K. Others are as high as -1100 or -1200. Payoffs on the underdog range from +600 to +750. Think about all the futures prices being offered on Cleveland through the season. You could have waited until you KNEW they were in the finals and still gotten 6/1 or 7/1 on them winning the title.
Sharps generally don’t bet futures prices unless something’s way out of whack. Some old school guys will take the Cavaliers on principal at the best price they see late Thursday…particularly if they can find a stale number if Kevin Love is cleared. Don’t forget that prices get adjusted game-by-game in the championships. If you think Cleveland is going to lose the opener straight up as a 12-point underdog (which is very likely), you might as well just wait until that happens and take a much bigger price when they trail 1-0. Investors with a lottery-mindset are pondering that approach today.
My guess for later today:
*If Love can play, we’ll have a tug-of-war between Golden State -11.5 and Cleveland +12 on the team side, with the total probably going up to between 215 and 216.
*If Love is ruled out, we’ll have a tug-of-war between Golden State -12.5 and Cleveland +13, and the total won’t budge.
I have my plans in place. You can purchase daily BEST BETS from your friend in Las Vegas right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about long term packages that offer the best value. If you sign up for Major League Baseball through the All-Star Break or full season, it’s easy to include the NBA Finals with that package.
Thanks for reading. I’ll talk to you again early next week to look back at what happened in the market for Game One and Sunday’s Game Two…and to look ahead to any adjustments made for the site switch to Cleveland. Game Three isn’t until Wednesday, as the league really likes to drag out the early action to maximize media hype. Best of luck this weekend.