The Eastern Conference will finally catch up to the Western Conference in the NBA playoffs. Covers checks in on the action for tonight's Game 2 of the East finals, with insights from Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports for MGM Resorts in Las Vegas, and Peter Childs, risk management supervisor for offshore shop Sportsbook.ag.
No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 1 Boston Celtics - Open: +5.5; Move: +6
Cleveland has yet to lose a game in this postseason, going 9-0 SU and 6-2-1 ATS, and those two pointspread losses came in the first two games against Indiana in the first round, more than a month ago. The Cavaliers (60-31 SU, 45-42-4 ATS) have since gone 6-0-1 ATS, including an easy Game 1 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night. **video
LeBron James and Co. led 61-39 at halftime and coasted from there, winning 117-104 as a 4-point road favorite. Boston, which needed six games to beat No. 8 seed Chicago in the first round and the full seven to top No. 4 Washington in the second round, had nothing in the tank for a Cavs team that came into this series with 10 full days of rest.
Bettors aren't expecting things to be much different for this 8:30 p.m. ET tipoff.
"Right now, it's all Cavs. We opened -5.5, and we're at 6," Rood said of action at MGM books, including his home post at The Mirage on the Vegas Strip. "We opened the moneyline at Cavs -255 and it's up to -265, with a ton of moneyline cash on the Cavaliers. So yeah, it's a big decision for us tonight. We need the Celtics to show up and win."
Rood said the Cavs action has been predominantly public play.
"A little bit of sharp play on the Celtics at +6, but not much," he said, adding the ticket count on ATS bets was running 6/1 in favor of Cleveland and money was 5/1 on the Cavs.
Sportsbook.ag has also seen Cavaliers money flowing in. Childs said his shop opened Cleveland -5 late Wednesday night, got to 5.5 within minutes and 6 shortly thereafter.
"Basically nothing has changed on the side, we're dealing 6, and we're seeing about 60 percent of the betting action on the Cavs," Childs said, though he noted Sportsbook.ag is proceeding with some caution. "While the Cavs have been dominant against the Celtics, especially the last two games which were both in Boston, we're respecting the sharp action on the Celtics. Bottom line, their season is on the line, and it's a must-must-win game for them.
"The Celtics will play with a certain sense of desperation and leave it all out on the court. I'm not sure I can say the same for the Cavs, who could come into this game overconfident and a bit complacent. It's tough to cover 6 points on the road regardless of the situation, but with the Celtics in the spot they're in, I'll take my chances with them."
Sportsbook.ag opened the total at 220, then stuck at 220.5 all day Thursday. However, that number has now ticked downward a full point.
"We saw some sharp action betting it under this morning, and we immediately went to 219.5," Childs said. "We haven't moved since that bet, and while we're seeing slightly more over money, we're fine with the position we're in on this total."
Rood said MGM Resorts opened at 219.5 and was still there this afternoon, though his books were a little heavy on the over.
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.