After a hiatus from playoff basketball and hockey, NBA and NHL action return to the hardwood and ice today. While NHL playoff series are still relatively early in Round 2, the NBA is a step behind with a few Round 1 matchups yet to be decided. This means we have several series entering the late stages with some teams desperate to stay alive while others are hoping to eliminate their opponent and advance.
Two series in particular, the Magic-Bucks and Blazers-Lakers, offer double-digit point spreads. Milwaukee and Los Angeles are both 13.5-point favorites for today's Game 5s. Public bettors are psychologically biased toward betting favorites. However, they can be scared off by laying large point spreads, especially in the playoffs. After all, with such high stakes, these games tend to me closer than usual because the competition is more evenly matched than a normal regular season game.
However, believe it or not, laying big points in the playoffs is actually a smart idea in the postseason. Double-digit favorites are 5-2 ATS so far this postseason. Since 2005, they are 70-52-3 ATS (57.4%) according to Bet Labs Sports. This doesn't mean you should blindly lay the points with every big playoff favorite. Be sure to handicap each game individually. Just know that laying the points on a big spread has had value historically. Don't let the big number automatically scare you off.
Today, we have a loaded slate of 3 NBA games, 3 NHL games and 16 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 from 10 a.m.-noon ET on The Lombardi Line. We'll be dissecting all the big matchups and breaking down late sharp action across MLB, NBA, NHL and more.
Noon ET: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins
The Lightning lead this best-of-seven series 2-1. After Boston won Game 1 by a score of 3-2, Tampa Bay has captured all the momentum, winning two straight, including a 7-1 shellacking of Boston as -115 favorites in Game 3. This pivotal Game 4 line opened with the Bruins listed as short -110 favorites and the Lightning an even money 100 dog. Conventional wisdom says the Bruins will use the extra time off to their advantage, regroup and come back strong to even up the series. However, we've seen some smart money get down on the Lightning, flipping this line and pushing Tampa from a dog ( 100) to a favorite (-110). The Lightning are currently -250 favorites at BetMGM to win the series while the Bruins are 200 dogs.
1:15 p.m. ET: Cleveland Indians (20-12) at St. Louis Cardinals (11-12)
The Indians crushed the Cardinals 14-2 in last night's Interleague series opener, cashing as -130 road favorites. These teams are trending in opposite directions as Cleveland has now won three straight while St. Louis has now dropped three straight. In this afternoon's Game 2 matchup the Indians trot out veteran Carlos Carrasco (2-3, 4.50 ERA) against Cardinals young ace Jack Flaherty (2-0, 1.98 ERA). This line opened with St. Louis listed as a short -125 home favorite and Cleveland a 115 road dog. Smart money has quickly come down on the road dog Tribe, dropping the Cardinals from -125 to -115 and the Indians from 115 to 105. The total is 8 with some liability to the under (-115). The Indians have been an incredible under bet this season, going 21-9-2.
7 p.m. ET: Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders
This series is tied 1-1. The Islanders dominated the opener 4-0 and then the Flyers bounced back with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 2. This important Game 3 line opened with New York listed as a -112 favorite and the Flyers a 102 dog. Respected money has come down on the Isles, pushing New York up to -115 or even -120 at some shops. New York will have the benefit of being the designated home team, which means they enjoy the last line change and can play matchups to their benefit. This series is essentially a coinflip with the Flyers -115 and the Islanders -106 at BetMGM.
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 Live Odds Page for Vegas sportsbooks and for other legalized states.