The betting public is all over the Warriors as 3½-point favorites over the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday in Cleveland. But two professional sports bettors are backing the Cavaliers and an extremely profitable trend.
NBA home teams trailing a series 2-0 are 15-3 against the spread in the first quarter and first half of Game 3 this postseason and 17-3 ATS going back to the 2016 NBA Finals, when Cleveland led Golden State 33-16 after the first quarter and 51-43 at halftime en route to a 120-90 win.
Of course, the Warriors didn’t have former NBA MVP Kevin Durant in their lineup last season, but sharp bettor Ron Boyles still expects the Cavaliers to start strong against Golden State in Game 3.
“Cleveland will come out with tremendous energy in the first quarter,” Boyles said. “Last year, they dominated in the first quarter and first half, and I expect the same thing (Wednesday).”
Aware of the trend, which Boyles has successfully played for years, oddsmakers have adjusted the lines to a pick’em in the first quarter and the first half at the Westgate and William Hill sports books.
“I still think there’s value with Cleveland,” Boyles said. “You just know the crowd will be insane and LeBron (James) and Kyrie (Irving) will be really into it. I guarantee (Warriors coach) Steve Kerr will say, ‘We’ve got to weather the storm in the first quarter.’ ”
Golden State easily covered the first two games, whipping the Cavaliers by a combined 41 points. Cleveland dropped the first two games of last year’s Finals by 48 points before coming alive, and pro sports bettor Mike Scalleat expects a similar response by the Cavaliers in Game 3.
“It’s do or die. I think the Cavaliers will win, because if they don’t, it’s over,” Scalleat said. “You’ve got to like the Cavs with 3½ as a home ’dog. That’s a lot of points to lay on the road.”
The Warriors were favored by as many as 4 points Tuesday afternoon at CG Technology sports book, which moved the line after the same bettor placed a $110,000 wager on Golden State giving 3 points and a $145,000 bet on the Warriors laying 3½.
“It’s pretty one-sided on the Warriors at this point,” said Matthew Holt, vice president of CG Technology sports book. “If you want to bet the Cavaliers, we’re the only 4 in the marketplace right now.”
William Hill bettors also are loading up on Golden State (minus-3½) and over the total of 226½, sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said.
“It’s all Golden State and over. I can’t blame them,” he said. “People have been cashing with Golden State all playoffs, and they’re just going to ride it out.
“We’re going to need the Cavs huge in Game 3. I’m praying Cleveland can compete.”
After the teams combined for 245 points in Game 2, Boyles is staying away from the total.
“It used to be in the NBA playoffs you’d look to play under first. Especially if the previous game went over by a lot, under in the next game would be like stealing money,” he said. “Coaches would be pissed off and say, ‘You’ve got to start playing better defense.’ And the next game goes under. But not anymore.
“You can’t play these games under. They shoot nothing but 3s all game long.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-266-6080. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.