By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Now that the almost pointless NBA postseason Play-In games have wrapped up, and the seven and eight seeds are all finalized, we can focus on the real deal.
And while most of the first-round playoff series features a heavy betting favorite, that didn’t stop professional bettors from laying some lumber on teams that should’ve probably been bigger chalk.
“I couldn’t believe the opening price on Milwaukee,” one professional bettor told FOX Sports. “It opened Bucks -650 or -700 to eliminate Chicago, and that line was a joke. Most people are scared to lay seven dollars, but if the odds should be a lot higher, that’s a steal, especially in a series. This isn’t a one-off.
“We made Milwaukee -1500, so yeah, we’ll lay -700.”
FOX Bet is dealing Milwaukee -1000 while other shops are even higher.
Another favorite that’s attracted some professional cheddar is the Golden State Warriors. Oddsmakers weren’t exactly sure about Steph Curry’s status when that series market was first posted earlier this week, so the betting price on the Warriors was relatively low.
One American sportsbook opened Golden State -200 against the Denver Nuggets, and a couple of Vegas books hung Golden State -220. You’re lucky to find anything cheaper than Golden State -250 right now.
“The Game 1 line [Warriors -6 at FOX Bet] tells you Curry is playing,” the bettor explained. “Obviously, you follow what the league insiders are saying on Twitter, and that’s the narrative, too. If Curry were doubtful in the opener, that line would be Warriors -1 or -1.5.
“If you get a full series with Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all playing together with home court, -250 is still cheap. And if the Warriors win the first two games as two-possession favorites, you could bet a little Nuggets series price when they’re down 0-2 at +550 or whatever.
“Golden State probably goes to -500 up 1-0 and maybe -800 up 2-0.”
Those wise guys, always thinking three steps ahead.
Another interesting angle involves the “underdogs” in the Western Conference’s future markets. The Phoenix Suns finished eight games up on the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton steamrolled into the NBA Finals a season ago.
But all that smoke makes them basically unbettable to win the West given the current price. FOX Bet is currently dealing Phoenix +110 [$10 wins a measly $11] to reach the Finals, which is far from a great bet, as you know.
Remember, the Suns were +600 or higher before the season.
“The only silver lining is that Phoenix makes every other team’s odds higher in the West,” the bettor said. “Golden State is a very good basketball team that hasn’t been this healthy in the playoffs in three years. I really like Utah, too. The Jazz have double-digit odds at a few shops and that seems a little high. And I’m not a big Memphis fan, but I know some people that are.
“That price on Phoenix [+110] says they’ve got almost a 50% chance to make the Finals. That second-round series won’t be easy against Dallas or Utah, and then Phoenix gets either the physical Grizzlies or the sharpshooting Warriors. That’s not a cakewalk.
“That’s the market to exploit — the Western Conference future book.”
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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