Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 12:01 PM
Golden State's utter dominance of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals has created quite a conundrum for sharps and squares alike. Historically, there's been value on backing the loser of Game 1 in Game 2 because of the traditional bounce back tendency shown by teams who have to make adjustments against a potentially complacent component. But, in THIS case,
*We may have an underdog with no true defensive options
*We may have a favorite who's so dominant they can do whatever they want
*We may have a point spread that hasn't yet captured those first two points!
The line has risen from Golden State -7 up to Golden State -9. That's dramatically opposed to the typical flow of a championship series...or really any playoff series in any sport where the underdog is talented and respected. Golden State played so well that only a few brave souls are interested in playing the zig-zag. Many souls thought they were getting the best of it Thursday with the Cavs at +7...only to spend most of the second half hoping their Unders got home.
In the old days, even if the home favorite covered -7 in the series opener in a blowout, the line still would have dropped to -6 in the rematch...maybe even -5 with a really great underdog and an inconsistent favorite. You'd hear about "advanced" betting strategies that encouraged you to take the dog (+) in Game 1, and if you lost, double up for two units on the dog (+) in Game 2.
You're not hearing much of that this year!
As I write this, the market has had a couple of days to settle. Here's what I'm seeing so far.
*Sharps are NOT laying the nine with Golden State. They believe that's either too big an adjustment, or a proper adjustment. Sure, you'll run into a few quants who will tell you the Warriors are still better than this price. But, the vast major of pro bettors still value history enough to look for ways to invest in the underdog. If the public drives the line any higher, then a slew of sharps would take +9.5. That doesn't seem likely to happen though. That's a very high line for squares to bite on against an all-time superstar playing for an underdog. And, many squares already have Golden State for the series...and figure they can just Game 2 home for that bet.
I think on game day, more sharps will come in at +9, though it's possible that we'll have dropped to +8.5 by then. Some stores are testing that number as we speak. What number would bring in sharp money on the Warriors? Frankly, I think we're much more likely to see that in Game 3 in Cleveland rather than Game 2 here.
*Sharps are looking at the Under on the total. Before Game 1, I told you that the quants were getting Over gradings. That was true. But, it was eventually overwhelmed by the big volume of non-quant sharps who believe that history would rule the day. That total around 225 was something that hadn't been in play until you go back to the Magic/Bird showdown in the late 80's. Last year's Cleveland/Golden State series wasn't a track meet. Once that Under locomotive started, more and more sharps showed their cards and came in on the Under too. Quants are part of the sharp landscape, but not the majority.
Then, Game 1 stayed Under by about 20 points! And, that was even with a wild first quarter that topped 60 points all by itself. Oddsmakers immediately made a pre-release adjustment down to 221.5 for an opener. The early smart money that did show was on the Under. We're now seeing 220.5 in some spots.
What about the quants? As this new game goes into their sampling, they also show a decrease from the 226.5 they had been showing. A 204 with a reinforced emphasis on Golden State's defense brings their algorithms mostly in line with the current market. They might jump in on the Over at 220.5. More likely if 220 comes into play.
With all that...we're still back to the basic, tried and true "Dog and Under" preference from the majority Wise Guys. They're not interested in Golden State or the Over at current prices. Sharps who liked Golden State before the series are in big at -250 (or better from futures bets made earlier in the season) on the series price. They don't need to lay big points game-by-game. We may see another feeding frenzy on the Under Sunday...because that 204 is generally a match for last year...and because Cleveland may have to slow down the tempo to be more competitive. The stats show that these two could only get to 204 points in a fast-paced game!
I'll post my final decision on the team side (and maybe the total) for my clients Sunday morning. You can always purchase my game day selections in basketball and baseball right here at this website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155. I'm not a heavy action player in baseball. You'll get my top 1-3 plays every night and we'll try to grind out a profit the way the sharps do. In a sport like baseball, you can turn that into big money by betting smart and raising your investment sizes as you build bankroll.
I'll have another sharps report for you in advance of Wednesday's Game Three in Cleveland. That will likely go up Tuesday afternoon. See you then!