Last night the Celtics (-3.5) overcame a slow start and then caught fire, hammering the Heat 121-108 to stay alive and force a Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston opened as a 3-point favorite and moved to -3.5 despite spread bets being split right down the middle. This subtle move was a sign that pro money was leaning Boston because, in a vacuum, a line shouldn't move at all if the tickets are even. Entering last night, Miami was a -445 favorite to win the series at BetMGM and Boston + 350. Following last night's win, Boston is now a + 150 underdog to win the series. Miami is -182.
Last night's over cashed easily. It never really moved from the opener of 213.5. It was a big win for the public as nearly two-thirds of bets took the over. Overs have been the story of the Conference Finals. They are now 7-2 overall.
Now we turn our attention to a loaded Saturday. We have roughly 30 college football games to choose from, plus 1 NBA game, 1 NHL game and 16 MLB games.
For Saturday betting analysis and line movement updates be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself from 10 a.m.-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.
In the meantime, let's discuss a trio of Saturday matchups receiving sharp action from respected bettors.
7:30 p.m. ET: Tennessee at South Carolina
This SEC showdown is the most heavily bet game of the day. Tennessee opened as a 3-point road favorite. The Volunteers are ranked 16th and South Carolina is unranked. That's all the public needs to know. Nearly three-out-of-four bets are laying the points with the Vols, which has pushed this line up from Tennessee -3 to -3.5 or even -4 at some shops. This has created a perfect storm for value-driven bettors to buy low on South Carolina. The Gamecocks are your top contrarian play of the day, getting only a quarter of bets in a nationally televised, primetime game. South Carolina also has buy-low value as an unranked home dog against a ranked opponent and enjoys an inflated line, ideally at + 4. If you like to bet against the public and place yourself on the side of the house, the Cocks are the play in this one.
7:30 p.m. ET: Florida State at Miami Florida
This matchup features two Florida powerhouses coming off very different season openers. Florida State (0-1) lost to Georgia Tech at home 16-13. On the flip side, Miami (2-0, ranked 12th) is coming off a huge 47-34 win over Louisville in primetime last Saturday. This line opened with Miami listed as an 11-point home favorite. The recency-biased public is all over the Hurricanes as a ranked favorite off a big win at home. However, despite two-thirds of bets laying the points with Miami, this line has remained frozen at -11. Why hasn't it gone to -12 or -13? Anytime it reaches -11.5, it gets hit with FSU + 11.5 money. Essentially, we are looking at a sharp line freeze on the Noles, who also have value as a contrarian unranked dog in a primetime game. Sharps might be looking to bet against Miami in a possible let down spot after a huge win.
9 p.m. ET: Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers
This is Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers hold a 3-1 series lead and are coming off a 114-108 win in Game 4, pushing as 6-point favorites. The Nuggets are on the brink of elimination and must win in order to keep their season alive. We've seen Denver overcome a pair of 3-1 deficits thus far in the playoffs, upsetting the Jazz and Clippers. This Game 5 line opened with Los Angeles listed as a 6-point favorite. Sharps have rushed to the window to grab Denver and the points. This overload of Nuggets money has dropped the line from Lakers -6 to -5. If you think the Nuggets can win, Denver is + 175 on the moneyline. We've also seen some under money hit the market, dropping the total from 214.5 to 213.5. The over is 3-1 in this series. The Lakers are massive -3334 favorites (97%) to reach the NBA Finals at BetMGM. Denver is + 1400 to stage another 3-1 comeback.