Despite their amazing performance last night the Cleveland Cavaliers opened as small dog on the NBA odds board for Game 4. Will lines shift drastically just like in game 3 any time before Thursday?
Jason’s record as of June 9: 81-85-5 ATS, 22-23 Totals, +0.15 units ML, 6-4 Series (+2.0 units)
Okay, this is getting a little silly. For the third game in a row, the Cleveland Cavaliers took an early lead against the Golden State Warriors, then wilted down the stretch. But the Cavs prevailed in the end, beating Golden State 96-91 to cash in as 2-point home dogs, down from –1 at the open. How long can this go on?
At least one more game. The Cavaliers have once again opened as 1-point home faves on the NBA odds board for Thursday's Game 4 (9:00 p.m. ET, ABC) – depending on where you shop, that is. Some books have stuck with the Cavs at the same +2 from Tuesday's close, and there's also a +2.5 up on the board. These lines will no doubt have converged by the time you read this, but obviously there's some early disagreement about where the open should be.
No biggie. As we've been stressing throughout the Finals, the books will have plenty of opportunity to balance the action before Thursday's tip-off. It's an early-bird fiesta for sharp bettors while the lines are soft, but the money they inject into the marketplace isn't going to be enough to expose the books to losses. The larger betting public will see to that.
Getting the total whittled down to size, on the other hand, has taken quite a while – and it's still an ongoing process. If it hadn't been for overtime in the opener, the UNDER would be 3-0 right now; we started at 203.5 points for Game 1, then shrank to 199 points for Game 2 and 194.5 for Game 3. The opening total for Game 4 is 192.5 points.
Again, don't feel bad for the books. Our consensus reports for Tuesday night show 61 percent of bettors were on the OVER, and a quick dig through the archive shows similar betting patterns for the first two games. Makes sense – the OVER is the preferred public bet, the Finals are where the casual fans come out, and the lower the total gets, the more money they'll put into the marketplace.
Love or Confusion
Let's get back to that spread for a moment. If there appears to be any confusion amongst the books when it comes to their opening lines, don't read too much into it. Those locations who opened at Cleveland –1 put their NBA odds up before Game 3 even started – days before, in some cases. Those who opened at Golden State –2 or –2.5 entered the marketplace right around the end of Tuesday's game, and were reacting to the way the lines moved toward the Warriors.
Again, it all comes out in the wash. As we go to press, we've already seen most of those early lines flip from the Cavaliers to the Warriors. This is why we always stress the importance of shopping around and shopping early. If you liked Golden State at +1 and you didn't buy in, too late. Maybe next time.
It is very interesting, though, how the betting public didn't pounce all over LeBron James and the Cavs as Tuesday's tip-off approached. Our consensus reports do show the Warriors dropping from 61 percent support to 53 percent as the day wore on, so obviously the public is still putting its money on Cleveland, but not enough to move the lines.
Will the same thing happen in the run-up to Game 4 on Thursday? Just about everything from the first three games has been a repeat performance, so we're expecting things to continue apace. Let's see where the lines are when we come back for our NBA picks against the spread and total.