Betting market makers must act conservatively with game and series prices in the NBA Finals right now because of question marks involving key Golden State Warriors.
Klay Thompson suffered a pulled hamstring that could inhibit his movement and shooting against the Toronto Raptors in Wednesday night’s Game 3 (ABC, 9 p.m. ET). That’s worth “something” in the point spread. Oddsmakers went up with a soft Golden State -5.5 soon after Sunday night’s second game ended. That was soon bet up to -6. Sharps have the luxury of waiting until more information is known before placing big bets.
Kevin Durant has been sidelined for weeks with an injured calf muscle. There’s optimism he’ll be able to return for Friday’s fourth game. He’s likely worth at least two points on game-by-game point spreads because of his impact. VSiN’s estimated “market” Power Ratings tabulated by Jonathan Von Tobel (“The Edge”) and myself deduced that adjustment when Durant first left the lineup. His return would obviously make the Warriors an even bigger favorite than they already are.
This will likely be a fairly one-sided series if Thompson’s going to be fine and Durant’s about to return. But, It’s a potential seven-game barnburner if Thompson’s going to be hobbled or absent--and Durant chatter is just a smokescreen.
For Wednesday’s resumption, professional bettors will try to extricate the most value with a defensive underdog in a bounce-back spot. Intangibles and history generally favor a “zig zag” visitor plus the points. This particular visitor is tough as nails, and unlikely to go down without a fight with two days to recover from a loss.
There weren’t early nibbles on Toronto 6 in the first 24 hours of betting. That suggests sharps wanted to see at least 6.5 before reaching for their wallets--and likely hoping for 7 if the public backed the home favorite or positive developments about Thompson lifted the line.
The line started dropping Tuesday morning even before Durant was officially declared out. It was split between Warriors -4.5 and -5 late Tuesday.
The current series price at William Hill shows Golden State laying -280. Toronto is 230. Golden State entered as the superior side, and now has home court advantage after breaking serve Sunday night.
Obviously, those odds don’t suggest a seven-game barnburner. The composite intelligence of the marketplace believes Thompson and Durant are both likely to jump back on the warpath.
With current lineups, defensive intensity has been the linchpin factor in this battle of talented powers. Toronto held Golden State to 47% on two-point shots while forcing 16 turnovers in its victory. Golden State held Toronto to 43% on two-point shots while forcing 15 turnovers in its revenger.
Keep your eyes on the point spread. Market moves will likely anticipate headlines about player availability. Money knows first!