Tuesday was a banner day for contrarian bettors and sportsbooks as NBA underdogs went a perfect 6-0 ATS, including five outright victories. The biggest upset of the day by far was the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets beating the mighty Milwaukee Bucks 119-116. The Nets closed as massive 19-point underdogs and cashed + 1500 on the moneyline. The Nets' victory was the biggest point spread upset since 1993, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
While no one can expect dogs to sweep the board every day, there were several teachable moments we can take from yesterday. The first is identifying a sharp-line freeze. This is when you have heavy betting on one side, yet the line doesn't budge. This indicates a reluctance by the sportsbooks to move the line because that's the side they have liability on. They don't want to hand out a better number, even an extra half point, to brave contrarian bettors. For example, yesterday the Kings only received one-out-of-four spread bets, yet the line remained frozen at + 5.5. You have to ask yourself: Why didn't the books adjust the line to Mavs -6 or -7? Because they had liability on Sacramento. The Mavs won 114-110 but the Kings covered.
The second teachable moment is identifying clear reverse-line movement. This is when the betting line moves away from the popular side and toward the unpopular side. Look no further than Clippers-Suns. Despite the Clippers receiving roughly two-thirds of tickets, Los Angeles fell from -9 to -8.5 against Phoenix. The Suns won straight up 117-115.
And lastly, look for moves when ticket counts are split. In a vacuum, a line shouldn't move at all if the bets are even. If it does, that's a clear indication of smart money making an appearance. We saw this with Houston and Portland last night. Tickets were down the middle, yet Houston fell from -5 to -3.5. This was a dead giveaway that pros sided with Portland. The Blazers won 110-102.
If you can learn how to read line movement, it will take you a long way in sports betting.
Today we have another all day sweat on tap with 6 NBA games, 6 NHL games and 15 MLB games. Let's discuss a trio of matchups receiving notable sharp action from respected bettors.
For an updated breakdown of Wednesday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at Noon ET.
12 p.m. ET: New York Islanders (35-33-10) vs Florida Panthers (35-34-8)
This early noon-time matchup features one team going for a sweep and the other desperate to keep their season alive. The Islanders lead the best-of-five series 2-0 after notching a convincing 4-2 come-from-behind win yesterday as short -120 favorites. This Game 3 line opened with New York listed as a -120 favorite and the Panthers a + 105 dog. We've seen this line tick up further to the Isles -124, signaling pro money banking on New York to finish off the series and advance. One reason to like the Isles: experience. Postseason favorites that made the playoffs the previous season against opponents who didn't are 7-3 this playoffs and nearly 65% since 2005, according to Bet Labs Sports.
2:30 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies (32-36) vs Utah Jazz (42-25)
The bubble hasn't been kind to the Grizzlies. After entering the NBA restart with a stranglehold on the 8-seed in the West, Memphis has gone 0-3 in Orlando and now leads the Blazers by just 1.5-games for the final playoff spot. To make matters worse, Memphis just announced yesterday that star big man Jaren Jackson Jr (17.4 PPG) is out for the season with a knee injury. Meanwhile, the Jazz haven't been much better in the bubble, going 1-2. Utah just fell to the Lakers 116-108. However, Utah still holds the 5-seed in the West and without Jackson, the public sees an easy win and cover for Utah. This line opened with Utah listed as a 4-point favorite. Heavy betting has pushed the line up to -4.5. Some books reached -5 and saw buyback on Memphis at + 5. This is a classic buy-low opportunity with the Grizzlies, who the public is giving up on with Jackson hurt. Memphis is only receiving one-third of spread bets and also has contrarian inflated line value.
7:05 p.m. ET: Minnesota Twins (9-2) at Pittsburgh Pirates (2-9)
This is about as lopsided of a matchup as you'll find in MLB. The Twins have won five straight and just went 2-0 against the Pirates in Minnesota. Now the series shifts to Pittsburgh for two more games. The Twins are + 27 in run differential, 2nd best in baseball behind the Dodgers. The Pirates are -17, tied for the 3rd-worst in MLB. Tonight's pitching matchup pits the Twins' Randy Dobnak (1-1, 1.00 ERA) against the Pirates' Trevor Williams (0-2, 5.40 ERA). This line opened with Minnesota listed as a hefty -170 favorite and Pittsburgh a + 155 dog. Pros and Joes have had no problem laying the wood on the Twins, pushing Minnesota up to -180. This line will likely rise further as we get closer to first pitch. Favorites are 90-49 (64.7%) this season. If you're worried about laying the big moneyline price, the Twins are -1.5 (-115) on the run-line.
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 NBA Live Odds Page for Vegas sportsbooks and for other legalized states. You'll find pages for other major sports as well.