Busy night on the NBA hardwood seeing light betting action at the books

The NBA is getting ahead of the big college basketball tournaments with some intriguing Monday night matchups. Covers checks in on where the action is with Jeff Stoneback, sportsbook manager at The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip, and with an oddsmaker for offshore book BetNow.

Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers – Open: -9; Move: -8.5; Move: -7.5; Move: -8

These two teams are meeting for the second time in three days, but Cleveland’s lineup will likely be markedly different than it was Saturday in Miami, where both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving did not play. The Cavaliers (42-19 SU, 28-31-2 ATS) lost that game 120-92 as an 8-point road underdog, their third setback in the last five games (1-4 ATS).

Miami is currently ninth in the Eastern Conference, on the outside looking in for the playoffs, a game-and-a-half behind eighth-place Detroit. The Heat (29-34 SU, 36-26-1 ATS) are 5-2 SU and ATS in their last seven outings.

Stoneback said he expects a top-shelf Cavaliers lineup for tonight’s 7:30 Eastern tipoff.

“I doubt they would rest James or Irving. That’s probably why they rested them Saturday,” he said this afternoon, before noting betting action that dropped the line 1.5 points early on. “Most of the tickets are on the Cavaliers, but the sharp money is on the Heat. Ticket count is 5/1 on the Cavs, but money is the opposite, 5/1 on the Heat. There’s just small play on the Cavs from the public.”

BetNow’s oddsmaker said the game opened at -8 and that his shop saw strong early action on the Cavs at that number. Boston money briefly dropped the number to 7.5, but the line then spiked to 8.5.

“On parlays, the action is on the Cavaliers and the under,” BetNow’s oddsmaker said, noting the total opened at 215 and dropped down to 214. “On teasers, the action is on the Cavaliers and the over.”

Straight bets on the total were also favoring the under at BetNow.

Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks – Open: +5.5; Move: +6

Golden State has been a bit uneven the past week since losing Kevin Durant for what’s expected to be a month or so with a knee injury. The Warriors (51-11 SU, 27-33-2 ATS), on a five-game road swing in the East, lost to the Wizards on Feb. 28 – Durant went down early in that game – and followed with a loss at Chicago on Thursday, but held off New York 112-105 Sunday as a 10.5-point road favorite.

Steve Kerr’s squad has dropped seven in a row ATS.

Atlanta (34-28 SU, 29-33 ATS) is just 2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS in its last seven games. The Hawks dropped their last two games, both at home: 135-130 as a 2.5-point underdog to Cleveland on Friday, and 97-96 to Indiana as a 3-point chalk Sunday.

“There’s not much action on the game,” Stoneback said, noting at the time he only had eight total tickets, all on the Warriors. However, things picked up a bit later in the afternoon for this 7:30 p.m. Eastern matchup, pushing Golden State up to -6.

BetNow saw its line go the other way, opening at Warriors -6 and dropping to 5.5.

“On straight bets, the action is pretty even, with a little more money on the Hawks,” BetNow’s oddsmaker said. “On parlays and teasers, action is on the Warriors and the over.”

Action on the total also favored the over, with bettors taking the number from 213.5 up to 217.

Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs – Open: -3.5; Move: None

Houston is 8-2 SU in its last 10 outings (6-4 ATS) and now has not only the third-best record in the West – behind Golden State and San Antonio – but the third-best record in the league, ahead of East-leading Cleveland. The Rockets (44-19 SU, 36-27 ATS) come in off a pair of double-digit victories, 122-103 at the Los Angeles Clippers as a 2.5-point pup Wednesday, and 123-108 laying 8.5 points at home Saturday against Memphis.

San Antonio (48-13 SU, 33-27-1 ATS) is on a seven-game winning streak and has won nine of its last 10 (4-6 ATS). But the Spurs needed overtime in each of their last two games, edging New Orleans 101-98 as a 6.5-point road fave Friday, then beating Minnesota one night later 97-90 giving 7.5 points at home.

“We’ve got twice as many tickets written on the Spurs, but it’s all small tickets on both sides,” Stoneback said. “The money is about 3/2 on the Spurs, and there’s some parlay action building on the Spurs, too.”

BetNow opened San Antonio -4 and dropped down to 3.5.

“On straight bets, action is heavier on the Rockets,” BetNow’s oddsmaker said. “On parlays and teasers, action is heavier on the Spurs and the over.”

The total at BetNow moved to 222 this afternoon, after opening at 220.

Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Clippers – Open: -7.5; Move: None

Boston is second in the Eastern Conference standings, just three games behind the Cavaliers, whom the Celtics beat last week 103-99 as a 2-point home chalk. But the Celtics (40-23 SU, 32-29-2 ATS) are playing for the second straight night, coming off a tough road loss at Phoenix, 109-106 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by the Suns.

Los Angeles (37-25 SU, 31-31 ATS) has been a mixed bag over the past week or so, as Chris Paul regains his bearings after missing 14 games with a thumb injury. The Clips have gone 2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS with the star guard back in the lineup, but nabbed a win and cover at Milwaukee on Saturday, 101-91 laying 3.5 points.

Stoneback said The Mirage and other MGM Resorts books were seeing very little early action on this game and therefore no movement. However, BetNow opened the Clippers at -6 and saw that number bet up to 7.5. BetNow’s oddsmaker said straight bets were running pretty even, but parlays and teasers favored Los Angeles and the over. The total opened at 216 and moved up to 217.

Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.


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