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LVH not sitting out NBA summer league

If the Los Angeles Lakers play the Miami Heat on a neutral court in Las Vegas, which side would be favored and by how many points? Keep in mind that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are not playing and both teams consist of guys with little or no NBA experience.

The fake Lakers and phony Heat do meet at 5:30 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center and, believe it or not, there will be a betting line posted on the game.

"When I told people I was putting these numbers up, they thought I was crazy," said Jeff Sherman, an oddsmaker at the LVH sports book.

Sherman is making lines on almost all NBA Summer League games, and when I tell people that most think it’s crazy.

"I didn’t even know that. It’s kind of weird," Dan Majerle, the Phoenix Suns’ summer league coach, said Sunday. "I’ve never seen it. I stay away from the betting stuff."

But the "betting stuff" can make summer basketball more entertaining, especially if you’re winning. The Suns, led by former Kansas star Markieff Morris’ 21 points, beat the New York Knicks’ no-names 99-74 before a good crowd at Cox Pavilion.

The Suns covered as 3½-point favorites and the score went over the total of 165. Sherman made those lines after studying rosters and researching other angles.

"These are all guys who were top players on their college teams, so I’m pretty familiar with the players," Sherman said. "I’m following every NBA beat writer on Twitter. I have enough of a handle on it that I feel comfortable putting these numbers up.

"I know some people are having fun with this. It’s an opportunity for people to wager on it and go watch it if they want. The handle has been picking up each day, and I know more people are talking about it."

Chris Webber does not advise betting on it. Webber, a five-time All-Star who played 15 years in the league, called the Suns-Knicks game for NBA TV and was surprised to learn a point spread was put on it.

"Whoever does that is real lucky or just real stupid, because these coaches don’t even know their team," Webber said. "The (coaches) are working on different things. These aren’t real referees. It’s tough."

Of course, Joey Crawford is a real referee, and we know how tough it is to wager on NBA playoff games he officiates.

"Nobody should be betting on a summer league game," Webber said. "It’s like going to a pickup game and betting on a team just because of how you like them in the warmup line."

Maybe he’s got a point. I showed up at Sunday’s first game mostly to see point guard Kendall Marshall, the Suns’ first-round pick from North Carolina. But Marshall, expected to be one of his team’s top players, did not play. Phoenix won and covered anyway, luckily.

"I guess they didn’t have his contract completely done yet," Majerle said. "Hopefully in the next game he’ll be able to play."

In summer league games, you rarely know for sure who’s going to play or for how many minutes. So studying rosters is an inexact science. But some sports bettors prefer uncertainty, thinking they can find an edge against the oddsmakers. Is that stupid? Not always.

"Have they been right?" Webber asked about the oddsmakers.

Most lines have been solid; others have been way off. One of the best bets of the year could have been made Friday, when the Lakers were whipped 90-50 by Golden State. The line was Pick. The two best players on the floor, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, combined for 47 points for the Warriors.

"A couple people I talked to thought the Lakers should have been favored. I had Golden State a small favorite," Sherman said. "On that one, we actually got some Lakers money. The Lakers are one of the poorer teams in this league."

The bettors figured that out. On Saturday, Sherman said, the LVH took money against the Lakers, who were 4-point underdogs in an 84-72 loss to Sacramento.

The LVH set wagering limits at $1,000 for sides and $500 for totals, and Sherman said NBA Summer League betting is more popular than football – the Arena and Canadian league versions.

This might seem crazy, but I like the look of the Boston Celtics’ summer league roster.

■ BOTTOM LINES – Tiger Woods is the British Open favorite at 8-1 odds, according to Sherman. …

College football regular-season win totals are posted at the Golden Nugget, LVH and MGM Resorts books. The LVH opened UNLV’s total at 3 (over minus-135) for its 13-game schedule.

Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts "The Las Vegas Sportsline" weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM, 98.9 FM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

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