Where the action is: Sharp NBA money likes Hawks

Apr 24, 2013 |
The NBA playoffs are five days old and sharps have yet to really get involved, according to a number of sportsbooks in Nevada.

Veteran oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, of William Hill Sportsbooks, says the action is solid on the games but the wiseguys aren’t moving the lines like they have in postseasons past.

“The smarts like to jump in when they see something they like in the adjustments (between Game 1 and Game 2), but you haven’t seen that this year,” Vaccaro told Covers. “It’s been really quiet. There haven’t been any major decisions yet.”

The usual practice for postseason basketball is a rush of late action on the underdog, once the public pushes up the favorite. But, according to Vaccaro, it’s been back-and-forth betting on both sides, which is just fine for oddsmakers.

“That’s usually the way it goes but it hasn’t been as demonstrative as it’s been in the past,” he says of sharp money buying back underdogs. “It’s been nice two-way action.”

With action on Wednesday’s trio of NBA playoff games slowly picking up in Las Vegas, we check in with online books to see if bettors are any more active as of Wednesday afternoon:

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder – Open: -11, Move: -11.5

Oklahoma City squashed Houston, 120-91, as a 10.5-point favorite in Game 1 of their opening-round Western Conference series. That trouncing has forced books to add a couple ticks on to the Thunder’s spread for Game 2.

“The action easily is all on the Thunder to win, with no one wanting to touch Houston,” Russ Candler, of UWin.com, told Covers. “We pushed the price out on Oklahoma City earlier but were quickly punished. We have laid a huge bet on the Rockets to cover a 14.5-point spread and we’re quite happy to continue taking action on that line.”

The total for this game has also moved, jumping from 211.5 to 213 points. The Rockets and Thunder played under the number in Game 1 but went 3-0 over/under in their three regular season meetings.

Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers – Open: -7, Move: -7.5

The Pacers thumped the Hawks in Game 1, winning 107-90 and covering as 7-point home favorites. Atlanta and Indiana have gone back and forth as ATS winners in their five meetings this season, with the Pacers holding a 3-2 ATS edge.

According to Candler, some sharp money has shown its face on the Hawks but the public remains in love with home favorites, like the Pacers.

“The Sharps think there’s no way Atlanta will have a repeat of Game 1, when they went to the free throw line just 14 times, and as a result they’ve jumped on the Hawks,” he says. “Unless we see some more big bets on the Hawks, we don’t expect it to go any lower.”

The total has been trimmed a bit, dropping from 188 to 187. Game 1 marked the fourth straight time Atlanta and Indiana have topped the total in their five meetings this season.

Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs – Open: -8.5, Move: -9

The Lakers couldn’t put together a late push without Kobe Bryant in Game 1 and lost 91-79 as 8.5-point road underdogs.

Early money for Game 2 took Los Angeles and the points as well as jumped on L.A.’s moneyline odds around +425, moving most books to +400. However, the public is starting to come back on San Antonio.

“This might be the toughest line of the night,” says Candler. “There’s been some early money for the Lakers on both the moneyline and the point spread, but the money is now coming back on the Spurs. Like with the other two games, we’ll be happy to hold the lines and prices as long as possible considering the Spurs’ dominance in Game 1.”

The total opened as low as 186 and has been bet up to as high as 188.5 at some markets. The Lakers and Spurs boast a 0-4 over/under mark in their four head-to-head meetings this season.

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