Monday was another thrilling night in the NBA playoffs, with dogs and favorites splitting 1-1 ATS. The Celtics (-2) crushed the Raptors 111-89 to take a 3-2 series lead. Boston was the perfect example of both a Pro and Joe smart play. The Celtics received roughly two-thirds of bets but also took in massive sharp movement, flipping from a dog to a favorite (+ 1 to -2). While being contrarian is the preferred way to go, following sharp movement trumps everything. Sometimes Pros and Joes are on the same side and this was the perfect example. Also, line moves like this one are always the result of smart money. Public betting would not have pushed Boston from + 1 to -2. Only respected wiseguy money can do that. The under also cashed in the Boston-Toronto game. Unders are now a perfect 5-0 in the series.
In the late game, the Clippers beat the Nuggets 113-107 to take a 2-1 series lead. But Denver covered the spread for dog bettors. Sharps actually leaned on Los Angeles in a contrarian favorite spot, pushing the Clippers from -7 to -8.5. But it was all for naught as the Nuggets kept it close and cashed as a slightly public play. The total opened at 221, fell to 219.5 and closed at 220.5. It landed on 220, handing most sharp under bettors a win by the skin of their teeth. This illustrates the importance of having multiple outs, shopping for the best line and picking off a number at its optimal point.
In college football, BYU came up huge for sharps on Monday night. The Cougars opened + 1.5, closed -1.5 and crushed Navy 55-3.
Today, we have 2 NBA games, 1 NHL game and 18 MLB games. Let's discuss a trio of matchups receiving notable sharp action from respected bettors.
For an updated breakdown of Monday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at noon ET. I'll be co-hosting The Lombardi Line with Brady Kannon from noon-1 p.m. ET. You can also catch me co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3-5 p.m. ET.
6:30 p.m. ET: Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks
This is Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Bucks avoided elimination in Game 4 with a gutsy 118-115 victory to cut Miami's series lead to 3-1. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit. This line opened with Miami listed as a 3-point or 3.5-point favorite depending on the sportsbook. The public is absolutely hammering the Heat, expecting an easy win and cover. However, despite more than three-out-of-four bets laying the points, we've seen Miami fall to -2.5. Some books even briefly touched -2. This signals some seriously sharp reverse line movement on the Bucks, with pros buying low on Milwaukee in another elimination spot. Essentially, all liability is on Milwaukee plus the points. The Bucks also have textbook contrarian value in a heavily bet, lopsided primetime game. Giannis is unlikely to play due to his ankle injury, but he hasn't officially been ruled out yet. The Heat are still -1112 favorites (92%) to win this series at BetMGM. The Bucks are + 700.
8 p.m. ET: Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights
This is Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. The Stars stole the series opener 1-0, cashing as a big + 140 underdog. This line opened with Vegas listed as a -150 favorite and the Stars a + 135 dog. Moneyline tickets are relatively split, but we've seen smart money back the Knights in a bounce-back spot, pushing Vegas from -150 to -160. Historically, experienced teams who made the playoffs the previous season have been a smart bounce-back bet after suffering a loss.
9 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets
This is Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. After dropping the opening game to Houston 112-97, the Lakers roared back with a 117-109 victory in Game 2 to even up the series 1-1. This line opened with Los Angeles listed as a 5.5-point favorite. The public is all over the Lakers, especially after a big win. However, despite two-thirds of bets laying the points, we've seen this line drop from Lakers -5.5 to -5. This signals sharp action hitting the Rockets at + 5.5, causing reverse line movement in their favor. Pros are also leaning on the over. The total has been adjusted up from 224 to 225. The Lakers are -358 favorites (78%) to win this series. The Rockets are + 275.