Where the action is: Early betting money likes Bulls, Thunder

The NBA has two important playoff games on tap Monday night, with the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies looking to put the stranglehold on their respective second round series. We talked to some sportsbooks about the betting patterns and where they see the odds ending up come tipoff tonight:

Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls
– Open: +8, Move: +7.5


The Miami Heat turned it on the fourth quarter of Game 3 to take a 10-point win and a 2-1 series lead over the Chicago Bulls in their Eastern Conference semifinal. Early money for Game 4 is siding with the hometown Bulls and has trimmed this opening spread half a point at most markets.

“With the Heat winning the last two games against the Bulls by double digits, our customers are expecting a bounce-back game from the Bulls,” Russ Candler of UWin.com told Covers. “We’ve seen some early action on Chicago but I don’t expect that to continue.”

Miami is the biggest public favorite in the NBA and books are bracing for that flood of action before the 7 p.m. ET start.

“Miami is a huge public team so I would expect late money to be on the Heat,” Greg Sindall of SportsInteraction.com told Covers. “I would not be surprised if the line moves back to +8.”

As for the total for Game 4, the number opened at 187.5 and dropped as low as 185 at some books. The Heat and Bulls have played over the total in the last two outings in this series and are 4-3 over/under in their eight meetings this season.

According to Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSports.ag, sharp money has come in strong on the under but the majority of wagers are on the over, with nearly 60 percent of bets expecting Game 4 to top the total.

"No question we've booked more money on the over but we respect the under money that bet us and we're going to be taking a position in this game," Stewart told Covers. "We will eventually be going back to 186, but again we're taking a position on this game so we're going to try to book it where we'll need it under."

Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies – Open: -5, Move: -4.5

The Grizzlies locked down OKC for a huge win in Game 3 and have covered the spread in eight straight playoff games since losing Game 1 of their opening round series with the Los Angeles Clippers. The early action pushed this spread down half a point and bettors continue to jump on the Thunder as road underdogs.

“Oklahoma City has continued to see more action with about 60 percent of the money on the Thunder,” says Sindall. “Even though Westbrook is out, Oklahoma City is still a huge public team and the public will likely continue to bet on Durant and the Thunder thinking they won’t lose three straight. I think the line will remain at -4.5 but a flurry of action could cause it to come in to -4.”

The total for Game 4 opened at 184.5 and has remained steady at the number at most markets. Memphis and Oklahoma City have 1-2 over/under in this series and played to a 3-3 over/under count overall this season.

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