Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Monday, April 22, 2019 at 12:00 PM
Last Friday we talked about the challenges oddsmakers face when putting a number on Game Four of an NBA Playoff series. Then you saw some truly wild extremes.
*Boston was +2.5 at Indiana in Game Three of their series, but -3.5 in Game Four! That’s a six-point adjustment with the same teams playing at the exact same location. Clearly, smart oddsmakers and informed money knew that Indiana would draw a lot of interest in a “must-win” spot in their home opener…but then Boston would be the preferred side once Indiana had dropped further into throw-in-the-towel territory. Boston won by four against that Sunday line of -3.5. Nobody could say that wild adjustment wasn’t proper. Intangible dynamics can change that much in a playoff series.
*Houston was +2.5 at Utah in Game Three, but is now -3 for Monday night’s fourth game as I write this. Almost the same size adjustment…fully 5.5 points with the same teams at the same site. Sharps assume Houston will try to wrap things up to get ready for Golden State in the next round. Nobody wants to bet Utah after they blew a great opportunity to win Game Three.
*Milwaukee was -9 at Detroit in Game Three, but is now -12.5 for Monday night’s fourth game. That’s a move of 3.5 points with the same teams at the same site. And, it’s not like there was much mystery about who the better team was in Detroit’s first home game. Hard to believe that a ROAD team is laying such a big number. Milwaukee really is that great, while Detroit really has been that bad the past few weeks…not just in this series. Milwaukee’s average win has been 24 points through the first three games.
Things are also kind of helter skelter in the Oklahoma City/Portland series, but in a different way. Portland was -3 and -1 at home in the first two games. Oklahoma City was -7 and -5.5 in its home games. That would suggest Oklahoma City is the much better team on a neutral court. But, it’s Portland that’s posted an average win of 6.5 points through four meetings. How many shots does Russell Westbrook have to miss before the market gets the right read? The early line for Tuesday’s fifth game is Portland -3.
And, how about Spurs/Nuggets? The market is treating home court advantage like it’s worth 4.5 to five points in this series. Sure, the altitude at Denver is a factor. But, each team has won a road game already. So, point spreads aren’t reacting to the early reality of the series.
This is what makes handicapping the NBA playoffs so much fun. You’re not dealing with pure Power Ratings and a level playing field. You have to figure out which series underdogs may (or may not) play over their heads in certain situations…and which will give up hope and play way below their ratings (Detroit may have given up hope a month ago).
The good news is that the second round probably won’t be this volatile. All the good teams in the East will be advancing to play each other, with pretenders falling by the wayside. We’re on track to see Houston/Golden State in the West, which might feel like a championship series in the second round.
That means lines (and results) will come closer to tracking team Power Ratings. You should spend some time today and tomorrow updating your ratings and projecting future point spreads.
*Boston has advanced, and will certainly be playing Milwaukee. What would you make the Bucks in the home opener of that series? What would you make the number for Game Three in Boston. Think about that NOW so you’re ready to go when we get there.
*Barring key injuries to stars, we’re going to see Toronto and Philadelphia square off in the next round. Will Philadelphia be ready for a much tougher defense? What would you make the lines at each site?
*What about Houston/Golden State? Is Houston better suited to compete for seven full games by getting the Warriors a round earlier than last year? Maybe they won’t wear down this time. What should the numbers be at each site?
*The rest of the West is less certain. San Antonio/Denver are tied at two games apiece…and things could go either way. Portland may be up 3-1, but Oklahoma City at least has a chance to make things interesting. Nothing wrong with making tentative plans for the second round with that grouping.
One of the biggest differences between sharps (pro bettors) and squares (recreational bettors) is that sharps plan ahead, while squares don’t even think about a matchup until they see the line. I want you to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp. Make sure you’re ready for whatever challenges might come up.
You can purchase my 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. I will be posting NBA Playoff selections all the way through the championship round. Be sure you ask about my full package that takes you all the way to the final buzzer.
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you again on Friday for my next report on the NBA Playoffs from a market perspective. While TV ratings and early betting handle might be down from last year (no LeBron this season), I fully expect a surge in interest in the second round and beyond. Fasten your seatbelts.