2017 NBA Finals: Game 1 Preview

This matchup has seemed like an inevitability for months but, for the third consecutive year, the Cleveland Cavaliers (63-32 SU, 44-48-3 ATS) will face off against the Golden State Warriors (79-15 SU, 49-43-2 ATS) in the NBA Finals. Before the season Golden State was -350 to win the Western Conference while Cleveland was -400 to win the Eastern Conference at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. Not surprisingly, the Warriors (-150) and Cavs (+275) also entered the season with the best odds of winning the championship.

After compiling the best record in the league during the regular season, the Warriors have earned home-court advantage in this best-of-seven series and remain the favorites (-255) to win the title. On the flip side, the Cavs are currently +215 to win the championship. Despite blowing a 3-1 series deficit last season, the new-look Warriors are big favorites to win Game 1 and the series.

Golden State opened as 7-point favorites at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook and, at the time of publication, public betting has been evenly split with Cleveland receiving 51% of spread tickets at our seven contributing offshore sportsbooks.

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Cleveland is garnering the slight majority of spread tickets, but Golden State is actually receiving a slight majority of spread dollars (52%). That indicates that larger wagers (presumably placed by sharp bettors) have been taking the Warriors. This is particularly interesting since many sharp bettors have already taken Golden State to win the series.

Spoke to a few books this week and all are sharing a similar betting pattern; public backing @cavs for series, Pros on @warriors

Although public betting is evenly balanced on the spread, there’s been fairly one-sided betting on the moneyline. According to our public betting trends, 62% of moneyline tickets and 77% of moneyline dollars have taken the Cavaliers to win straight up. Those trends were confirmed by BetOnline Sportsbook manager Dave Mason, who said, “We need the Warriors for [the] Game 1 moneyline and for [the] series price.”

That point was further validated by Scott Cooley, a spokesman from Bookmaker.eu. “We’ve taken more sharp money on Golden State than Cleveland for the series,” stated Cooley. “But both betting parties are on both sides of that outcome.”

Given the magnitude of tonight’s game and the influx of public money, sportsbooks will take a massive loss if Cleveland pulls off the upset. Perhaps that explains why the Warriors moved from -7 to 7.5 on the spread at Pinnacle, but the moneyline actually slipped from -305 to -300.

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It’s important to note that Pinnacle and Heritage are the only sportsbooks currently offering Golden State -7.5, as most books are still hanging Golden State -7. Since Pinnacle is considered a market-setting sportsbook, this is a solid indicator that sharp bettors are leaning towards the chalk in tonight’s matchup.

We haven’t actually triggered any steam moves or reverse line movement alerts on the spread, but it does look like sharps are at least leaning towards Golden State. However, it’s clear that sharp money has taken a side on this record-setting total.

Pinnacle opened tonight’s total at 225, which marked the highest total of any NBA Finals matchup in our database. In fact, it was 14-points higher than the next highest NBA Finals total, which came when these teams squared off last season.

The highest closing total in our database was 211, which came in Game 1 of last year’s finals between the and .

At the time of publication, 56% of tickets and 57% of the money were taking the over. Despite this slight majority on the over, the total dropped from 225 to 222.5. That reverse line movement indicates that sharp money is on the under.

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Early public money on the over caused the total to increase from 225 to 225.5, but this morning there was a steam move triggered at 5Dimes which caused the total to plummet two-points from 225.5 to 223.5. For what it’s worth, the 5Dimes over/under move has gone 274-230 (54.4%) with +19.1 units won this season.

Right now it looks like sharp bettors have a slight lean towards Golden State on the spread, but there’s no doubt that sharps have been hammering tonight’s under. “Initially, the total was driven up with some smart money on the over,” stated Cooley, “but as expected, more has come in on the under over the last 24 hours.”

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