Basketball

Cavs Still Underdog To Win Finals

Wednesday, 10 June, 2015

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The Cavs are up two games to one in the best of seven NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. If not for a poor ending to game one, they could very well be up 3-0. Winning close games is a part of any sport, but Vegas and oddsmakers still believe the 67-win Warriors are the advantage team in this series.

Defense from the Cavaliers has kept the Warriors from having rhythm offensively for four full quarters. To start games the Warriors have fell behind in every first quarter to start the series. In fact, they’ve trailed every quarter besides the lone overtime in game one that they won.

Three games in to any series of two competitive teams is a mere beginning to a series. Flashback to the Bulls two games to one lead over the Cavaliers. Another close game scenario in game four landed to the Cavs and shifted the series from that point forward. The Bulls never looked the same and the series quickly turned to a lopsided finish. Cleveland won the series four games to two.

Golden State just needs to buckle down and move the ball around a bit more offensively. There just is not any fluid movement with the basketball or too many turnovers. Role players such as Draymond Green, Leandro Barbosa, and Harrison Barnes seem to be trying too hard on the offensive end as Stephen Curry dealt with his game and a half shooting slump. Taking quality shots as a team will help alleviate the scoring void that’s hit them against the Cavaliers defense.

Game four is not a must-win as people would think. Golden State has a strong home record and would still have games five and seven to look as home-court advantage games. Of course that means they’d have to win one game on the road, which they’d rather do now than have to do in game six.

Before game four there will likely be some money that comes in on the Cavaliers anticipating a game four win. But I believe Vegas has the odds right on the series price here with Golden State. After all just two games ago, Golden State were upwards in the -700 territory and Cleveland +400. You can’t have a rapid overreaction in any type of market, even with a two-game win streak from an underdog.

FUTURES MARKET: NBA FINALS MVP

Monday, 1 June, 2015

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Last year there were numerous players capable of winning Finals MVP between the Spurs and Heat. The list ranged deep before you would see Kawhi Leonard’s name at 20-1. He defended, scored, and rebounded to become the catalyst to be the difference and MVP a season ago.

This year both the Cavaliers and Warriors have the same deep pedigree of talented players. With the Warriors favored to win the series, Stephen Curry(reg season MVP) is also the odds on favorite to win Finals MVP at -175.

While the top of the heap features the expected big names, I’m always one to venture down the list for value purposes. This past NCAA championship I recommended Tyus Jones at 25-1 for Duke. During last year’s NBA Finals I recommended a hedge on the MVP(recommended Spurs to win title at 5-1 earlier in the playoffs) by grabbing Dwayne Wade at 10-1 for Finals MVP. I figured if the Heat had any chance of beating the Spurs Wade would have to turn to his old ways for a series—flashes he did show throughout the end of the regular season and some of the NBA playoffs.

This year we’ve heard people rationalize time and time again that Draymond Green is the key to the Warriors even with how well Stephen Curry has played. Curry fills the stat sheet while Green just does his job. That has somewhat changed as the season has stretched on. Green is becoming more and more involved in the offense.

With Klay Thompson’s status unknown, the shifting priorities of the Warriors and Cavs could play into the hands of Green. The Cavaliers are already a strong defensive team that would be able to shift more focus on the perimeter and on Stephen Curry. This would lead to more opportunities for another Warrior player to step up offensively, and you’d have to think Green would be one of the main options in that department.

Defensively, what he can do guarding various players already has his value as a sleeper MVP warranted.

Currently you can grab Green at 15-1 odds. We’re three days away from the Finals beginning and have yet to hear Thompson’s status. Grab the odds now before they shift on word of Thompson possibly missing game one or more.

FUTURES: NCAA 2015-2016 PRE-SEASON ODDS ON FAVORITE

Monday, 1 June, 2015

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We’re a long ways from the November start of the 2015-2016 college basketball season. A few weeks ago I gave out a long shot recommendation on the Syracuse Orangemen at 200-1 odds. That was value based in my eyes and has come down considerably since it was first released.

There will be several rule changes in effect next season that could cause a difference in a few outcomes.

Currently the top of the board for futures features a pro-heavy ACC list with Kentucky(SEC). Duke, Maryland, and North Carolina are all in the mix at the top of the future market. Maryland has had a blended mix of adding transfers similar to the way Gonzaga/Iowa State do, but also hit with developing key recruits that have stayed at Maryland. They have upperclassmen along with returning sophomore Melo Trimble that make them a dangerous team on paper.

Duke and Kentucky are there for obvious reasons. Coach K and Calipari have led the way of the 1 and done era.

But for the first time in the last five years I will not be picking a team from the ACC or Big East. In 2011 I picked UConn, 2012 I misfired, 2013-Louisville, 2014-UConn(Sweet 16 odds), and last year I picked Duke.

My odds on favorite heading into the 2015-2016 season will be the Kansas Jayhawks. The Big 12 did very poor last year in March Madness after being hailed as the top conference most of the season. Self and his talented Jayhawks teams have also faltered in the tournament on numerous instances.

There is no doubt he is a great coach. Before Duke won the title last year they faltered in round two to Mercer the season prior, they also had an exit caused by Lehigh a few years before that. Exiting in March does not mean a coach can’t get the job done in a matter of six to eight months.

Kansas in my opinion is under valued in the future market. Shopping around you’ll be able to find them in the range of 13-1 to 16-1.

What draws me to Kansas is their returning players. I love the nucleus in place with veterans Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, and Brannen Greene. Besides North Carolina’s veteran group there won’t be another team in the country that can match their chemistry. Kansas is also getting an early start to their season by participating in the World University Games in July.

Recruiting wise they’ve added two top 25 players in Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg. Both will help fill a void on the inside to a team that was too perimeter oriented last season. Their raw talent will provide the necessary hustle plays you look for in talented tall freshman. That mix usually goes well with a veteran group.

The word parity gets tossed around too much in college basketball. To me there is a big gap from the top ten teams in college basketball to the next five and on and on. You have a lot of teams that have minimal depth that fade in February and March as a result. How often players are transferring is also hurting the development of schools that would have a chance to lift from a top 15-25 team into the top ten.

Even the asset of playing in a power conference with key strength and conditioning coaches goes a long way. The transformation players bodies go through from one offseason to the next has grown leaps and bounds. You don’t see this occurring too often in mid to lower level conferences. It’s happening on the campuses of schools that have the state of the art equipment and top notch strength and conditioning coaches. This also pays dividends in-season as staffs have the personnel to keep a player’s body in preventive mode from injuries while still getting stronger in-season.

Kansas may have 3-5 losses in conference play but should be a solid one seed in March. Look for Kansas to creep down from their current future position as the preseason nears in college basketball. Grab the Jayhawks in future markets at 13-1 to 16-1 odds.

Projecting the NBA Finals Market: Cavaliers vs Warriors

Thursday, 28 May, 2015

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The latest element of a possible injury altering the Finals occurred for the Warriors last night. Klay Thompson took a knee to the head and appeared to be cleared by the Warriors medical staff. After the series clinching win, Thompson began to suffer concussion-like symptoms. Concussions are a tricky facet of any sport for diagnosis and clearance.

With a week off before the NBA Finals begin on June 4th, the last stage for future wagers is set. There were stages in the playoffs the Cavaliers were in the plus-200 range, which was a higher price than most stages of the regular season.

For the Warriors the only price drop that occurred for them was when they were down 2 games to 1 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Surprisingly you could have grabbed the Warriors around +170-+190 for an NBA title and as high as +120 to win the West. After game four against the Grizzlies their odds shifted back to normal range.

Both the Cavaliers and Warriors enter the Finals a bit banged up. That’s expected in any sport at this stage of the season. Where both of these teams have clear advantages is with their depth. The Warriors can go up to ten players deep. Cleveland may not have the same offensive fire power that deep but can match opposing teams with their defense.

Golden State has shown to be prone to have mental lapses in the playoffs. It occurred on multiple occasions against the Pelicans and Grizzlies. In fact, if the Grizzlies did not have to play with a banged up Mike Conley and injured Tony Allen who knows if that series would have went seven games.

The Rockets were a favorable matchup for the Warriors as they play with tempo and high-scoring offense similar to the Warriors. The Warriors were more efficient all season and that showed against the Rockets.

In the NBA Finals will the Warriors be able to avoid the same mental lapses they’ve shown throughout the playoffs? The Cavaliers will be utilizing this rest to their advantage and have won seven straight playoff games.

From a handicapping perspective, this will actually be a series that I decide to straight wager on a game to game basis. I’ll be looking at probably three plays in the series. At this point I do not see any reason to place a series wager. Odds shift enough in that area that you’ll probably be able to land the same or better value after games 3-5.

Pick your spots well. This time off can be a detriment in the handicapping world. Bettors have become accustomed to watching the NBA on a nightly basis and may get antsy for that first game on the 4th. Be patient, and stick to the same discipline that leads to handicapping success. It should be a fantastic series and worth the wait.

NBA FUTURES: YET ANOTHER SEISMIC SHIFT IN ODDS

Monday, 11 May, 2015

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There may not be a more recent example of a continuous shift in future odds than what we are currently seeing in the NBA. Jalen Rose of ESPN made a great point. This year there will not be the Celtics, Lakers, Heat, Mavericks, Pistons or Spurs being crowned NBA champion. Title-bound potential teams have not experienced a championship.

We’re seeing great finishes left and right with buzzer beaters and true competitive playoff basketball.

With uncertainty lurking oddsmakers have been quick to supplant yesterday’s value with drastic changes in the future market. Days ago the Bulls had crept as high as the +400 range to win the NBA title. Now they’re back down in the 8-1 range and 3-1 range to win the Eastern Conference.

The large rise in title odds for the Bulls is because of the unexpected play of the Clippers. Sure they had won a tough series in seven games to the Spurs, but with Chris Paul injured, the Clippers were underdogs to the Rockets. Now up three games to one, they’ve changed the view of just about everyone. So much that they’re currently second behind the Warriors at +348 to win the NBA title.

All of this sudden market change can skew the true value of a team. Lets not forget there were two teams that finished with 60 wins in the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors. Rare accomplishments. Golden State is in a must-win situation tonight on the road similar to the Bulls. They are also in plus payout territory to win the NBA title for the first time in the playoffs.

Injuries can not be overlooked in a series either. Scheduling allots for typically two days to rest before the next game occurs. If Cleveland should advance past the Bulls the toll of the series could be more damaging than any typical round two series in recent memory. LeBron is coming off a 10 for 30 performance and has had to resort to his one-man show tendencies of five years ago. His team is banged up and he needs more assistance if they’re even going to get past Chicago.

With the Clippers there hasn’t been any assurance with Chris Paul’s hamstring just yet. He is skating by without having to truly sacrifice on the court for this team, thanks to his teams blowout performances. A team like Golden State will force Paul to run for the entirety of a game while the Grizzlies would be beneficial to Paul.

It’s a day to day future buyers market. Keep a close eye on it daily and see if you can step in and make a sound choice for a value buy.

NBA FUTURES: IS IT TIME To Hedge EASTERN CONFERENCE Odds on BULLS?

Saturday, 9 May, 2015

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Predictions in the handicapping world typically leave the option of “hedging a wager” on the table. At some point the thought should always cross your mind. When in position to get your ROI or make a small profit there is no reason not to pass that up. The Bulls are now up two games to one over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Readers that have followed my futures advice via blog and twitter are in shape to set themselves up in one of two ways.

One, you can split your hedge money by grabbing the series price on the Cavaliers and also hedge on the Cavaliers to win the Eastern Conference. Depending on where you are looking, currently the series price is near even or slightly on the Bulls side. The future to win the Eastern Conference currently has the Bulls at +177, Cavaliers +187, and the Hawks +225. Before game three the Bulls were in the low +200 range and the Cavaliers were in the low +100’s.

I still like the Bulls to win the Eastern Conference. Before tomorrow’s game four I likely will get the Cavs as a series/Eastern Conference future to hedge.

Of course you’ll be taking a bit off the table from any potential future that you have on the Bulls. At +750 you can’t be too upset with the value. They dropped significantly to around the +575 range before the playoffs and of course have steadily dropped in price.

In the handicapping world greed is going to hurt you more than help you. Grab the hedge advantage if you’re in position.