Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, April 19, 2019 at 4:00 PM
One of the trickiest challenges for oddsmakers is figuring out how to price the fourth game of an NBA playoff series.
Everyone knows that the market is going to respect the home team in Game Three, particularly if that squad is down 2-0. Sharps that emphasize historical trends know this is often a peak outing for the host. Recreational bettors like taking teams in a must-win situation as long as they can walk and chew gum (squares will avoid home dogs in a 1-8 type matchup, but they like taking “cheap favorites” who should be fired up).
That Game Three phenomenon is why we saw such big line moves in the site switches from second games.
*Indiana went from +8 to -3
*Utah went from +6.5 to -2.5
*Oklahoma City went from +1 to -7.5
All of those teams are down 2-0 as I write this. Oklahoma City was actually +3 in the first game in Portland. That’s a huge swing for a playoff series that doesn’t involve altitude.
Speaking of altitude, San Antonio went from +7 to -4.5 after splitting two games in Denver. The Spurs looked great Thursday night in a 118-100 victory.
Normally home court is worth about three points in the NBA. That would mean a six-point move from one site to the other. Those examples moved a lot more than six points.
So, that’s understood. The third game is going to be out of synch with normal market dynamics. What about the FOURTH game if the series underdog plays great and wins? Should the line move back toward equality? Or, does the home team that’s still trailing in a series have ANOTHER big game with their backs to the wall?
*If Boston loses G3 at Indiana…will sharps and squares play the bounce back, or ask Indiana to even things up?
*If Utah thrills a loud home crowd in G3…will sharps and squares assume that will continue, or will Houston go back to imposing its will?
*If Russell Westbrook leads OKC to a home blowout (which is what it would take to cover that high spread), would it be smart or dumb to ask for a replay?
I’ll tell you what I’ve learned from studying the industry over the years. Sharps will rely on their numbers in Game Four. While there’s a documented history for the “blowout potential” of home teams in that third game when trailing, there’s no similar storyline for Game Four. If Boston/Indiana “should be pick-em,” then sharps will take points either way. If the Wise Guys are showing Houston -1 is the “right” line in Utah…then they’ll take the Rockets at pick-em or better regardless of what happens in Game Three.
The public is more likely to ride “the eye test,” particularly if all they have to do is ask a small favorite to win again. Squares loving betting cheap favorites! Especially if it looks like the crowd is going to be a factor. If the pre-series favorite goes up 3-0, the public (and many sharps) will bet the sweep at affordable prices.
Oddsmakers must balance all of these fluctuating influences. Because there’s more public money than smart money in playoff games (sharps bet big, but not big enough to counter the volume of square money), there will often be a tug-of-war that still slightly favors the sharp side.
I’m a Power Ratings handicapper. And I’m going to stick to my numbers. I may see something that causes me to make a very slight change if there’s a personnel matchup that causes one team headaches. But, teams “are what they are” at this stage of a season. Too many public bettors lose site of that trying to chase shortcuts based on imagined intangibles.
I want YOU to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp. That means building Power Ratings and trusting them. If you haven’t yet created your own Power Ratings, now is a great time to do so. There are only 16 teams playing…and you know eight of them won’t be lasting very long.
Start at the top with Golden State. You know they’re the best team. Imagine a neutral court game between the Warriors and Milwaukee. What would you make the line? How about Golden State and Houston? Milwaukee and Toronto? Keep going right down the ladder. Build a scale you’re comfortable with based on your knowledge of the teams and their big game performances when healthy. (Then, make adjustments as needed if any starters have to miss a game with an injury.)
I will be posting NBA selections for paying customers through the playoffs. You can purchase my daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155.
Because of the great national response to the recent New York Post article about my work in Las Vegas, we’ve increased the number of articles here at this website. I’ll be with you every Monday and Friday to talk about the NBA Playoffs from a market perspective. It’s a very big betting event here in Nevada. Things will get even more exciting in the next round when the best teams start going head to head. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. See you again on Monday.