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Heat-Cavs matchup has ups and downs for bettors

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

April 11, 2017 12:05 AM
heat_cavs
Josh Richardson dunks on the Cavs.
© USA Today Sports Images

All three “must-win” teams in the NBA East playoff race won Monday, but the Miami Heat made it much more interesting than expected.

Miami Survives Overtime vs. Cleveland backups
It had to be seen to be believed. A lot of that going around lately!

Early Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers had seemingly punted last night’s matchup in Miami, as well as the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The franchise announced that LeBron James would sit out (after playing 47 minutes in a shocking overtime loss to Atlanta Sunday), that Kyrie Irving would sit out (45 minutes Sunday), and that Tristan Thompson would remain out with a thumb injury. Kevin Love was "questionable" after playing 42 minutes Sunday. A loss would basically hand the #1 seed to the Boston Celtics.

Betting markets reacted with authority. Miami was bet all the way up to -13 at one point in a game they HAD to win to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Though, underdog money did bring the line back down to Miami -10 (still a double digit projection). Media questioned Cleveland’s tactic because home-court advantage throughout the Eastern playoffs is a coveted perk. 

Then everyone watched what was almost a historic head scratcher!

  • Cleveland jumped out to a 37-24 lead after a quarter
  • Cleveland held an 11-point lead entering the fourth quarter
  • Miami rallied to force overtime (with each team blowing opportunities to win)
  • Miami built an early 6-point lead in OT, then blew that!
  • The Heat finally held off the Cavs to send their fans home happy

Let’s look at a couple of key stats before commenting further…

Miami (-10) 124, Cleveland 121 (in overtime)

  • Free Throws: Cleveland 19/22, Miami 24/34
  • Turnovers: Cleveland 21, Miami 13

You really have to question whether Miami deserves to be in the playoffs after playing so poorly most of the night against Cleveland’s backups and Kevin Love. Miami’s defense let Cleveland shoot 60% on two-pointers through regulation (finishing at 56% after clamping down more in OT), and the Heat were outrebounded 44-39 before the extra period (finishing at only a 47-46 deficit thanks to OT boards). At home in a must-win situation against a tired, short-handed opponent!

Miami did attack the basket more aggressively as you see in the stat box, which let them make five extra free throws (on 12 extra attempts). Miami was also able to force turnovers off stopgap point guard Deron Williams. He coughed the ball up 10 times by himself out of Cleveland’s 21 giveaways. (Though, Williams scored 35 points 46 minutes so we’ll cut him a little slack.)

Miami was one of three teams in must-win situations for playoff qualification Monday. The others both won and covered their market price. 

Indiana (-8) beat Philadelphia 120-111. The Pacers won the first quarter 35-20 and largely coasted after that. That’s FIVE straight covers for Indiana in their playoff chase. The Pacers remain alone in the #7 slot in the East with a record of 41-40, and can clinch a playoff spot by winning Wednesday at home against Atlanta. 

Chicago (-8) beat Orlando 122-75. Chicago led 34-13 after the first quarter, pretty much ending any suspense immediately. Both Chicago and Miami are 40-41 and tied for the #8 spot. Chicago clinches a playoff spot with a win Wednesday at home against Brooklyn. That’s not an auto-win given that the Bulls just lost to the Nets on the road Saturday. If Chicago had just defeated Brooklyn and New York as favorites last week, they’d already be in the brackets. 

To reach the postseason, Miami needs a win at home vs. Washington, coupled with at least one loss from the Pacers or Bulls. 

The NBA Playoffs begin Saturday. Whichever duo qualifies for those last two spots will have to recover and re-focus quickly for the first round.

NBA: Odds to win Championship
This is a good time to check in on South Point’s odds to win the NBA title. Golden State’s stellar play in recent action has them favored over the league. Monday the Warriors were -160, and you could bet the field at 140. (The Westgate had Golden State even higher at -200.) Cleveland’s odds haven’t changed much because it’s assumed they’ll “flick a switch” when the time comes.

Current NBA futures
Minus 160: Golden State
3 to 1: Cleveland
9 to 2: San Antonio
15 to 1: Houston
20 to 1: Boston
22 to 1: LA Clippers
30 to 1: Toronto
40 to 1: Washington
75 to 1: Utah and Oklahoma City
200 to 1: Miami
250 to 1: Atlanta, Indiana and Chicago
300 to 1: Milwaukee
600 to 1: Portland

Boston looked so bad against Cleveland in Beantown last week that the market just doesn’t see them having a shot to run the postseason table even if they’re the #1 seed in the East. Toronto and Washington are getting some consideration for value from skeptics of the top two seeds. Toronto, in particular, may be timing their run just right with the recent return of Kyle Lowry. 

Miami rates superior in the South Point prices over Indiana and Chicago, despite needing help to make the playoffs. That’s because of an imbalance of money on the South Point books. Sportsbook director Chris Andrews says that Miami took a lot of futures action during their long hot streak in the second half of the regular season. 

NHL: Odds to win the Stanley Cup
We’re on the topic of futures, so let’s run the NHL numbers in advance of the hockey postseason that begins Wednesday night. We’ll take a closer look at series prices for you tomorrow in VSiN City. 

Current NHL futures
3 to 1: Washington and Chicago
7 to 2: Minnesota
8 to 1: Pittsburgh, Montreal and Anaheim
10 to 1: Columbus
15 to 1: NY Rangers
20 to 1: Boston, San Jose, and Edmonton
25 to 1: Ottawa and St. Louis
30 to 1: Calgary
45 to 1: Toronto
50 to 1: Nashville

Now, let’s run those same odds in the order of series openers that begin Wednesday and Thursday…

Wednesday

  • NY Rangers (20/1) at Montreal (8/1) (7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network)
  • Boston (20/1) at Ottawa (25/1) (7 p.m. ET on NHL Network)
  • Columbus (10/1) at Pittsburgh (8/1) (7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network)
  • St. Louis (25/1) at Minnesota (7/2) (9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network)
  • San Jose (20/1) at Edmonton (20/1) (10 p.m. ET on USA Network)

You can see how great that Columbus/Pittsburgh series could be. Two of the top seven market favorites to hoist the cup have to play right off the bat, with only one making it to the second round. We have two relatively juicy longshots guaranteed to make it to the second round…the winners of Boston/Ottawa and San Jose/Edmonton. 

Thursday

  • Toronto (45/1) at Washington (3/1) (7 p.m. ET on USA Network)
  • Nashville (50/1) at Chicago (3/1) (8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network)
  • Calgary (30/1) at Anaheim (8/1) (10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network)

Less competitive matchups here, though we all know that anything can happen in a short NHL playoff series. Wednesday is the day to watch if you want to be relatively guaranteed of extremely competitive games. Thursday is the day to watch if you want to scout current market co-favorites Washington and Chicago.

Again, we’ll see how the series prices have settled in our next report.

As the playoffs progress, we’ll pop in with some statistical summaries when space permits. Today, let’s take a brief look at goal differential for the 16 playoff qualifiers. This is simply goals scored minus goals allowed during the regular season.

2016-17 Goal Differential
Washington plus 81
Minnesota plus 58
Columbus plus 54
Pittsburgh plus 48
NY Rangers plus 36
Edmonton plus 35
Chicago plus 31
Montreal plus 26
Anaheim plus 23
Boston plus 22
San Jose plus 20
St. Louis plus 16
Nashville plus 16
Toronto plus 9
Ottawa minus 2

Again, that Columbus-Pittsburgh series looks great. They were both in the top four league-wide in goal differential. 

Use that data to get a general sense of team quality. But, the slate gets wiped clean before the first puck drops Wednesday night!

MLB: Youth being served so far in Cincinnati
Gill Alexander mentioned Monday on “A Numbers Game” that the Cincinnati Reds were off to an impressive start considering their youth. That start got more impressive with a 7-1 blowout win at Pittsburgh later in the evening. That was on the heels of a 8-0 shellacking of St. Louis Sunday.

This from a Reds team whose regular-season win total at the South Point was just 70. They were projected to finish last in the NL Central, with the second-worst record in the National League ahead of San Diego...tied for second-worst in the majors along with the Chicago White Sox. 

Yet, through seven games, the Reds are 5-2 with a run differential of plus 14. They’ve cashed underdog tickets at plus 125, plus 165, and plus 155, along with one pick-em game and one favorite spot. 

Who would have thought this pitching staff would have rated #2 in the league in ERA a little more than a week into the season?

Another surprising start from a projected doormat involves the San Diego Padres. They won 5-3 in Colorado Monday Night as a plus 170 underdog. That puts the Padres at 4-4…which is money for a team that gets so little respect from the betting markets. San Diego also cashed at plus 180 and plus 200 this season, along with one pick-em. That equates to a record of 6.5 wins and 4 losses in moneyline terms. 

San Diego had the lowest projected win total in the months leading up to the season…and were bet UNDER that low total by respected money. What was supposed to be a glorified minor league team stands at 4-4 through eight games, which is 3-1 when not visiting the loaded LA Dodgers. Big shock.

How long can the Reds and Padres keep it up? A question we’ll at least keep an eye on here in VSiN City. 

MLB: Houston Astros’ offense yet to ignite
We talked last week about the early season Under tendencies this far in Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Astros went on the road and still couldn’t score any runs! They’re currently last in the majors in runs per game after getting shut out 6-0 in Seattle Monday afternoon. This was an offense that impressed a lot of respected money in the offseason. Houston was projected to win the AL West with 90 victories in the marketplace.

Houston games are now 2-6 to the Under against opening lines
Houston games are now 0-8 to the Under in the first five innings

Houston did win a game 5-3 at home that stayed Under the early lines of 9 and 8.5 but made it over a closing line of 7.5. 

Houston’s run count at the end of nine innings thus far by game is 3-2-2-2-1-3-4-0.

That’s 17 runs in regulation through eight games. The Astros have scored a total of four additional runs in a pair of extra inning victories. Houston is just 4-4 out of the gate, having been favored in all seven of those home games.  

Thanks for visiting VSiN City again today. If you missed the news about the South Point posting betting propositions for this month's NFL draft, you can read all about it here. We'd love to hear any feedback or suggestions you have for the website or our weekday newsletter. Drop us an email.

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