Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Friday, April 26, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Sharps have made their intent clear in the NBA Eastern Conference second round matchups that begin this weekend. Let’s take them in the order they tip off.
SATURDAY: PHILADELPHIA AT TORONTO
An opener of Toronto -5 was quickly bet up to -5.5 or -6 depending on where you shop. That’s a lot of respect for the Raptors considering it’s a #2 vs. #3 matchup. Home court advantage is usually worth at least three points in the NBA Playoffs. Sometimes four in certain situations. Clearly the sharps think Toronto is the much superior “neutral court” side, even with Joel Embiid of the Sixers rounding back into shape.
We do see some Sixers money come in on the six. I’m not sure what squares (the public) will do here because Toronto really isn’t a “public” favorite. They have a history of disappointing in the playoffs, making it harder for the casual fan to lay -5.5 or -6 points with them. For now, we know that an important number of sharps LOVE Toronto at -5, and some still like them at -5.5. Dog lovers take the six.
The Over/Under has been bet down from 224 to 223. Toronto played great defense vs. Orlando, with four of those five games staying Under (205, 193, 191, 192 before a 211 in the finale). Philadelphia plays faster, and had an easy time scoring vs. the Nets. I wouldn’t be shocked if later lines come down in this series. But, we have to respect the fact that quants only bet Under 224, and stopped at 223.
For the series, Toronto has been bet up to around -260 to advance (depending on the shop), with Philadelphia now returning around +200 to +210. You’re hearing a lot of TV pundits call this an “even” series, or even picking Philadelphia to advance. Betting markets see it tilted much more to the Raptors with those prices. The public isn’t very interested in series props generally, and definitely not a few days before tipoff. Sharps are making it very clear they expect Toronto to advance.
If you’re interested in futures prices, Toronto is around 8/1 to win the NBA Championship. Philadelphia is a longer shot at 20/1. Again, the market doesn’t see these teams as anywhere near even (though games at Philadelphia should be around pick-em).
SUNDAY: BOSTON AT MILWAUKEE
This was the first second-round game on the board because both teams swept their first-round series. Sharps POUNDED Milwaukee, even though oddsmakers tried to anticipate Bucks support with their openers.
The Game One line opened at Milwaukee -6.5. It rose immediately to -7 and -7.5, before most stores tested -8. Boston money did come in on the eight, so we’re now painted -7.5. Milwaukee is another team that the public may not be ready to embrace yet as a medium favorite. Squares are so used to laying points with LeBron James in the East, they don’t know who else to back as chalk! I think we’ll probably stick at 7.5 until tip off. Though, we may see a tug-of-war between Milwaukee -7.5 and Boston +8 if squares decide to lay points at home with the #1 seed.
Early movement on the series price was just as dramatic. The first number I saw here in Las Vegas a few days ago was Milwaukee -250 to advance at the Westgate. Boston was +200. As I write this Friday morning Las Vegas time, those numbers are now Milwaukee -310, Boston +250. If you lay that -310 with Milwaukee, and they win the series 75% of the time, you lose money!
This Over/Under is also down a point. Here, it’s from 224.5 to 223.5. Almost identical totals to start the two Eastern series. Both teams played great defense in the first round, and will bring intensity to the matchup. Pace will probably determine which games go Over or stay Under.
On the futures board, Milwaukee is 5/1 to win the NBA championship…and seen by many sharps as having a real shot to upset Golden State if the Warriors represent the West. Boston is 20/1.
For now, the Wise Guys expect Toronto and Milwaukee to play in the Eastern Finals. Maybe something this weekend will change their minds.
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I’ll talk about sharp action in the Western brackets the next time we’re together Monday. The Westgate has already posted series odds for Houston/Golden State even though the Warriors haven’t quite finished their opening round yet. Golden State is -300 to beat Houston (and -150 to win the league title). Houston is +240 to upset Golden State (and +600 to win three more rounds).
Portland will take on the winner of San Antonio/Denver. In Saturday’s Game Seven of Spurs/Nuggets, Denver is -5.5 with a total of 209. Quants and “historians” often bet Unders in seventh games. That happened here, against an opener of 211
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. See you again on Monday.