Thursday Sharp Action Report for Heat-Celtics, Mets-Phillies and Bengals-Browns

September 16, 2020 11:06 PM

With so many different sports going on right now, it's easy to lose sight of all the different betting opportunities across the market. Many bettors may not know this, but the WNBA playoffs just got underway inside the Florida Bubble. While WNBA remains a niche sport that doesn't attract much attention from casual bettors, sharps quietly love betting on WNBA because it's an underserved market with lots of potential if you do your homework. 

I've long been a WNBA fan and there are two systems I lean on during the playoffs. The first is the over. The pace and intensity picks up in the postseason, leading to higher scoring games. Since 2005, WNBA playoff overs are 146-123-6 (54.3%) according to Bet Labs Sports. During the regular season, WNBA overs are just 49.9%. This represents a 4.4% increase to the over in the postseason. The key is looking for playoff overs that rise at least 1 point. These overs improve to 53-29-2 (64.6%). Because there is no public betting WNBA, if a line rises it's almost exclusively driven by smart money with an edge. 

Today, we have a packed betting slate with Thursday Night Football, 1 NBA game, 1 NHL game, 12 MLB games and 2 WNBA games. Let's discuss a trio of matchups receiving notable sharp action.  

For an updated breakdown of Thursday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at noon ET.

7 p.m. ET: Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics

This is Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat lead the series 1-0 after posting a 117-114 overtime win in Game 1, winning straight up as 2-point underdogs. This line opened with Boston listed as a 2-point favorite. A slight majority of bets expect the Celtics to bounce back and are laying the points. This includes some early smart money on Boston -2, which has since pushed the line up to -2.5. We've also seen some sharp action hit the under. Despite two-thirds of bets backing the over (which cashed in the opening game), the total has fallen from 209.5 to 208.5. This series price opened at Boston -139 and Miami + 115 at BetMGM. With the Heat up 1-0, Miami is now a -150 favorite with Boston + 125. 

7:05 p.m. ET: New York Mets (22-27) at Philadelphia Phillies (24-24)

These NL East foes have split the first two games of the series. The Phillies won Tuesday's opener 4-1 as + 115 dogs while the Mets overcame a 4-0 deficit last night to win 5-4 as -174 favorites. In tonight's rubber game, the Mets send out Seth Lugo (2-3, 3.63 ERA) while the Phillies counter with Aaron Nola (5-3, 2.40 ERA). This line opened with Philadelphia listed as a short -135 home favorite and New York a + 125 dog. The public is all over the Phillies at home with their ace on the mound. However, we've seen this line tumble away from the Phillies (-135 to -125) and toward the Mets (+ 125 to + 115). This signals some sharp reverse line movement on New York, who also has value as a road divisional dog. Oddsmakers are also showing liability on a lower-scoring game as the total of 8 is juiced up to under -120. Some books are creeping down to 7.5. 

8:20 p.m. ET: Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

This Thursday Night showdown features two divisional opponents coming off disappointing losses. The Bengals battled in Joe Burrow's debut but missed a late game-tying field goal and fell to the Chargers 16-13, failing to cover as 2.5-point underdogs. The Browns, meanwhile, got crushed by the Ravens 38-6 and didn't come close to covering as 7-point dogs. This line opened with Cleveland listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. Spread bets are pretty even and value-minded sharps have gotten down on the Bengals, dropping this line from 6.5 to 6. Some shops have briefly touched 5.5. Essentially, all line movement and liability has been toward Cincinnati. The Bengals have value as a road divisional dog with a low total. Cleveland could also be missing some key players. Three Browns starting offensive linemen are questionable (Wills, Conklin and Tretter) as wide receiver Jarvis Landry is also questionable. One advantage for the Browns, however, is the fact that Thursday Night games typically benefit home favorites on a short week. The under has also taken in sharp action, dropping from 45 to 43.5. The weather could also benefit the under. The forecast calls for 10-12 MPH winds at the Dawg Pound. 

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