The Portland Trail Blazers punched their ticket to the playoffs on Saturday, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 126-122 in the play-in game. Portland cashed -265 on the moneyline. However, the Grizzlies came up with a huge cover for wiseguys, contrarian bettors and sportsbooks. Memphis received less than half the tickets but saw a sharp line freeze and late reverse line move in their favor. The Grizzlies opened as a 6-point dog and anytime they went to + 6.5, sharps scooped up the hook and drove the line back down to 6 where it eventually closed. Essentially, all liability remained on Memphis plus the points.
The Grizzlies also had classic contrarian value in a heavily bet, primetime game. Remember, betting against the public isn't the end all be all. It's a starting point and foundational pillar. The key is going contrarian in the most heavily bet games that also feature sharp action. In order to capitalize on public bias, you need to focus on games that the public is flocking to. The higher the ticket counts, the more contrarian value.
While sharps cashed the spread, the public got the last laugh in terms of the total. It opened at 233.5 and two-thirds of bets took the over. However, smart money dropped the total down to 229.5. It sailed over and landed on 248.
The playoff picture is now officially set. The Blazers will take on the Lakers in the first round.
Here are the series prices at BetMGM
Bucks -10000 vs Magic + 1600
Raptors -3334 vs Nets + 1100
Celtics -400 vs 76ers + 300
Heat -304 vs Pacers + 240
Nuggets -200 vs Jazz + 160
Clippers -527 vs Mavs + 375
Rockets -182 vs Thunder + 150
Lakers -455 vs Blazers + 340
Today we have a day off from basketball as the postseason begins on Monday. But we still have 5 NHL games and 14 MLB games. Let's discuss a trio of matchups receiving notable sharp action from respected bettors.
For more Saturday analysis and betting updates be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning on NESN from 10 a.m. ET to 12-noon on The Lombardi Line. We'll be dissecting all the big matchups and breaking down late sharp action across MLB, NBA, NHL and more.
2 p.m. ET: Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames
This is the fourth game of the best-of-seven series. It's been incredibly evenly matched thus far. After exchanging victories in the first two games, Calgary won 2-0 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. This pivotal Game 4 line opened with the Stars listed as short -110 favorites and the Flames an even money + 100 dog. Ticket splits are about even but smart money has come down on Dallas to tie the series, pushing the Start from -110 to -115. Some books are creeping up to -120. One advantage for Dallas is the fact they'll likely have starter Ben Bishop in goal over backup Anton Khudobin, who started Game 3. Also, keep an eye out for a big injury on Calgary's side in Matthew Tkachuk, who is a game-time decision with an undisclosed injury. The total is a low 5 with heavy -140 juice to the over, signaling liability on a six or more goal game.
4:10 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Dodgers (15-7) at Los Angeles Angels (7-14)
The Dodgers took care of business last night, winning 6-5 in 10 innings. Los Angeles cashed as a -145 favorite. In the final game of this three-game series, the Dodgers go for the sweep and send 22-year-old phenom Dustin May (1-1, 2.75 ERA) to the mound to face Angels veteran Julio Teheran (0-1, 13.50 ERA). In two starts this season, Teheran has given up 7 runs in just 4.2 innings pitched. This line opened with the Dodgers listed as -160 road favorites and the Angels a + 150 home dog. Both Pro and Joe money has gotten down hard on the Dodgers, pushing the line from -160 to -170. Road favorites are cashing at a 65% clip this season. The Dodgers are an MLB-best + 55 in run differential while the Angels are -9.Sharp action has also come down on the total. Pros jumped on the opener of 9.5 and pushed it up to 10. The wind is blowing out to center at 10 MPH.
8 p.m. ET: Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens
This best-of-seven series is tied at one game apiece. The Flyers took the series opener 2-1, cashing as -155 favorites. But then the scrappy Canadiens responded with a dominant 5-0 win in Game 2, winning as juicy + 125 underdogs. This pivotal Game 3 opened with Philadelphia listed as a -140 favorite and the Habs a + 130 dog. The public is back on the Philadelphia train after their impressive string of wins during the Round Robin restart. However, despite two-thirds of bets laying the minus price on the Flyers, the line has fallen from Philadelphia -140 to -130. This signals sharps buying low on the streaking Habs (+ 130 to + 120). One advantage for Montreal: they are the designated home team and will get the benefit of the last line change. The total is 5 and currently being juiced up to over -140, signaling liability on a higher-scoring game.