NBA Opening Night was a boon for contrarian bettors and sportsbooks as dogs and unders each went a perfect 2-0. In the early game, the Jazz upset the Pelicans 106-104. Utah received just under half of spread bets, but saw sharp reverse line movement in their favor + 3 to + 2.5. The Jazz cashed + 125 on the moneyline. The total skyrocketed from 220.5 to 229 behind some major over steam, but it was all for naught as the under cashed easily.
In the nightcap, the Lakers won 103-101 but the Clippers covered as the top contrarian play of the night. The Clippers only received a third of spread bets but saw late sharp action in their favor + 5 to + 4. The total opened at 217.5, got bet up to 219.5 and sailed under, landing on 204.
While it may be a small sample, bettors can't help but wonder if the Opening Night bubble results portend further success for contrarian bettors. Remember, the betting public has been starved for action for nearly five months. With the NBA returning, Average Joes will naturally flock to favorites and overs. The sportsbooks know this public bias and will shade lines toward the popular side, which in turn creates added value to back dogs and unders. Also, the bubble environment eliminates home court advantage and neither team has to travel since they all live on campus. So provides an advantage for the team getting points, not laying them.
Now let's turn our attention to Opening Night, Part Two. We have six NBA games to get down on today, with the all day sweat starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. Here are a trio of games receiving sharp action.
For an updated breakdown of Friday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at Noon ET.
4 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) vs Portland Trail Blazers (29-37)
This late afternoon matinee has serious playoff seeding implications. The Grizzlies currently occupy the 8th and final seed. The Blazers trail Memphis by 3.5 games, which means this matchup is a virtual must-win for Portland. This line opened with the Blazers listed as a short 1.5-point favorite. Two thirds of bets are laying the short spread with the Blazers. But it's not purely public support. The lopsided action also includes smart money from respected wiseguys. This double-sided betting has pushed the line up to Blazers -2.5. It may creep even further toward 3. Pros really liked Portland at -1.5 or -2. If it reaches 3 you can likely expect some buyback on Memphis at an inflated + 3.
The total opened at 222.5. Bets are split and public bettors don't know which way to go. But pros have sided with the over, pushing the total up to 224.5. Portland is 36-29 to the over this season while Memphis is 34-30 to the under. This is also a revenge game for the Blazers, who lost their only matchup with the Grizzlies earlier this season 111-104.
6:30 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics (43-21) vs Milwaukee Bucks (53-12)
Last night we had a possible Western Conference Finals preview with the Clippers and Lakers. Now we get treated to a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview. The Bucks own the best record in the league and occupy the top seed in the East. The Celtics are the No. 3 seed, currently 9.5 games behind Milwaukee. These teams have met twice so far this season and split both games, with the Celtics winning 116-105 in Boston and the Bucks won 128-123 in Milwaukee.
The line opened with Milwaukee listed as a 5-point favorite. The public, which loves betting favorites, winning teams and big-name star players, is rushing to the window to lay the points with Giannis and the Bucks. However, despite two-thirds of bets backing the Bucks, we've seen the line either remain frozen at five or dip down to 4.5. This signals sharp action and house liability on the Celtics + 5. Boston also has value as a contrarian dog in a heavily bet, nationally televised game.
Pros and Joes are united on the total. It opened at 216 and has been bet up to 218.5 behind a steady dose of over money. The Celtics are at full health. The Bucks will be without starting point guard Eric Bledsoe and bench guard Pat Connaughton who are recovering from Coronavirus.
8 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings (28-36) vs San Antonio Spurs (27-36)
The pressure is on for both of these teams as they find themselves on the outside looking in at the postseason. The Kings trail the 8th-seeded Grizzlies by 3.5 games while the Spurs trail by 4 games. Sacramento opened as a 2.5-point favorite. Both Pros and Joes are laying the points with the Kings, which has forced oddsmakers to adjust the line up to Sacramento -3.5. Some books experienced some buyback on the Spurs at + 3.5 and have dropped to 3. It looks like the sharps preferred Sacramento at -3 or less.
The total opened at 216.5. Once again, wiseguys and public bettors are in agreement and both are hammering the over, pushing the line up to 219.5. Both teams have been profitable to the over this season, with Sacramento 33-30 and San Antonio 38-24. They've met twice this season with the Spurs winning 105-104 and the Kings winning 122-102. San Antonio will be without star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Kings are down Marvin Bagley Jr., who was shut down with a foot injury.
Remember, the sports betting market is fluid and constantly changing due to action coming in. Stay up to date with the latest odds by visiting our free VSiN NBA Live Odds Page for Vegas sportsbooks and for other legalized states.