Sharp action on under drives total down for Game 1 of NBA Finals

As tipoff of Game 1 of the NBA Finals neared Thursday night, the Warriors remained entrenched as 7-point favorites over the Cavaliers at most Las Vegas sports books. But the total dropped to as low as 223 after sitting at 226½ on Wednesday night.

Sharp bettors were pounding the under on the total that opened 21 points higher than the closing number (205) in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals won 93-89 by Cleveland.

“All the early money was mostly public on Cleveland and over and (Wednesday) we started getting Warriors and over money. (On Thursday) all the sharp guys came in on the under,” Boyd Gaming sports book director Bob Scucci said. “These are two teams that love to shoot 3s and run the floor. We tried to be as high as we could, but the sharps realized the value was more on the under than the over.

“We’ve taken some big bets on the under that really drove the line down. A lot of five-figure bets.”

Wynn sports book director Johnny Avello said “quite a bit of money” came in Wednesday on the under but he expects over money to show closer to game time.

“Nobody likes to bet anything under,” he said.

After dropping as low as 223 at the Westgate sports book on Thursday morning, the total climbed to 225 in the afternoon.

Avello said action on the series price has been heavier than on Game 1. He’s taken six-figure bets on the Warriors to win the series and solid five-figure wagers on the Cavaliers.

Golden State opened as minus-270 favorites, dropped to minus-245 and was back up to minus-290 on Thursday afternoon.

“There’s a shift of money one way and then a shift the other way,” Avello said.

CG Technology sports book director Jason Simbal said bettors have wagered eight times as much money on Cleveland on the Game 1 money line (plus-260) than on Golden State.

“People have been taking a shot trying to get a big payoff,” he said.

Including the regular season, only one of the past 26 meetings between the Warriors and Cavs has topped 220 points. But the teams have a combined 18-7 over-under mark in this postseason and are averaging a combined 235 points per game.

Las Vegas bookmakers expect a record NBA Finals betting handle for the third straight meeting between the teams for the title.

“This is the series everybody wanted to see, even before the season started,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “I’m not so sure we’re not having the same conversation next year about the team that lost trying to tie it 2-2.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at or 702-266-6080. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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