There are some games in sports where you can ignore everything else and bet simply based on what the line is telling you. Last night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals was one of them.
And what the line was saying was: 1. The books knew Kevin Love would likely be out when they set the line and 2. They were happy to take on the public by backing the Cavs while the majority of bettors piled on Golden State.
I talked about it on Twitter and on Fox Sports’ Outkick The Coverage but these two elements turned out to shake down in line with how I previewed it.
A quick scan of Twitter Wednesday afternoon indicated the public thought books would have to adjust to favor the Warriors – or favor them by more – after Love was ruled out. Shock and dismay followed when the Cavs moved back to faves at -1 or -1.5 after the Warriors had moved to -1 earlier in the day at a few shops.
It shows you what the books think of Love in this series and it’s not much in terms of his worth to the point spread. Turns out, for Game 3 at least, they were right. Cleveland played far better defensively without Love and the cover was never in doubt.
The other element here not to forget is that the books are gamblers too. They were happy to back the Cavs in Game 3 and take on the bettors and they knew they were setting a line that would set them up that way. If you think books are always setting a line to get equal action on either side, think again. It rarely works out that way.
Leading up to game time most books were reporting somewhere between 53 to 60 percent of bets on the Warriors and I have to think the books expected that after the way the Warriors dismantled the Cavs in the first two games. The beat-downs in Games 1 and 2 were enough to sway public opinion for these Finals and that matters because this is a recreational bettor’s series.
The NBA has been breaking TV ratings records in these playoffs while most sports fans hoped, prayed and watched for a Cavs-Warriors rematch. So what we have is a Super Bowl-type action scenario where even the casual fan wants to have a little money on this thing.
In the end, the books made out pretty well in Game 3. That doesn’t mean the book is always going to be right – the House, like any gambler, loses too sometimes. But it was so important for Game 3 to truly try to understand the mentality of the book before you placed your wager.
Always keep in mind there’s a human element that goes into every point spread – it’s not all algorithms and math equations – and it can tell you a lot. It’s a big part of what makes sports betting great and unique compared to any other game in the casino.