Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 11:57 AM
Richie Baccellieri: How Sharps have been Betting NBA Conference Finals
Normally when "public" teams are involved, the sports betting marketplace shapes up very firmly in a "sharps vs. squares" divide that results in something resembling a "tug-of-war" once a number settles. Oddsmakers try to shade against what they expect the public to do, then hope to either be positioned against the public enjoying the right end of 11/10 odds, or enjoy split action that guarantees a profit in that one game.
So far in both the Western Conference Finals, and the Eastern Conference Finals, the marketplace is dealing with the reality that sharps don't want to bet on these underdogs unless they're getting GREAT prices!
*Golden State was a prohibitive favorite to win its series, and got bet UP
*Cleveland was a clear favorite to win its series, and got bet up HARD
*Sharps were even less interested in San Antonio when Kawhi Leonard got hurt
*The market hasn't found a Game 1 price yet that encourages Boston money
The West got a head start on the East, so let's start there.
San Antonio did get bet with a high opening line in Game 1 once it was clear that Kawhi Leonard was close to full strength. Spurs money cashed tickets at +10.5 or higher thanks to the big scoreboard cushion built before his injury. Leonard was playing so well, that Spurs (+10) in the first game was a virtual steal because Golden State was both overpriced and rusty at the same time.
Once it was clear Leonard was out of Game 2, the line settled at Golden State -14. Some old school sharps who bet every double digit dog still took flyers on the Spurs (which they regretted very quickly). The game closed most places at Spurs +13.5.
The first lines up late Tuesday night offshore for Game 3 were Golden State about -6 on the road this coming Saturday. Sharps, particularly quants, really like the Warriors to keep rolling. They hit that opener enough to drive the line up to -6.5. If Leonard isn't able to come back, we're likely to see a rise to -7 or even -8 with a mix of sharp and square interest on the favorite. If Leonard heels, then I'm guessing a tug-of-war is likely on the seven, with the public still backing the explosive favorite but sharps taking the Spurs (+).
In the East, Cleveland opened at -3 on the road at Boston late Monday, after the Celtics had survived their seven-game series with Washington. Vegas sportsbooks took a ton of Cleveland money all day Tuesday, lifting the line to -3.5, -4, and finally -4.5. What will it take to bring in Boston cash? I'm guessing the full five would do it. We are talking about a #1 seed at home, facing a team that could be facing the same rust issues that hurt Golden State in its opener. But, Cleveland HAS been very impressive so far. And, Boston's defense isn't particularly well-suited to slow them down considering how they only really stopped Washington when John Wall got tired.
It will be very interesting to see how the lines react the rest of the way. We have a fascinating dynamic at the moment where the quants really like how both Golden State and Cleveland play in terms of using three-pointers to maximize their scoring potential. And, we have a general public that always loves to bet on blowouts happening with the best teams. Sportsbooks must either accept very one-sided sheets where they root hard for the dogs, or they have to lift their numbers so high that it reduces handle and discourages betting interest.
What about Over/Unders? Some sharps hit the Under in Game 2 of San Antonio/Golden State hard because Leonard was out, only to see scoring FLY over by more than 25 points. Quants and other Wise Guys bet the Over in Game 1 of Cleveland/Boston, driving from an opener of 219 to 220. If Boston weren't in a "rust" spot, that might have been pushed to 221 or 222.
Years and years of "dogs and Under in the playoffs" may get thrown out the window the rest of the way. It's already been a "Favorites and Over" postseason thus far…and the most dynamic scoring threats in the sport are on a collision course for a meeting in the Finals.
I'll be posting my selections throughout the postseason right here at the website. You can always purchase my top releases right here at the website with your credit card. Call the VSM office for details about longterm packages that take you through the NBA Championships and the All-Star break in baseball at 1-888-777-4155.
Thanks for reading. Good luck with your choices if you're a do-it-yourselfer. Your friend behind the line will see you again on these pages very soon.