NBA Finals Game 3: Lines on the Move

Game 3 between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors is seeing rapid line movement. Should gamblers be mindful?

After a successful and shocking domination of the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors, most people — pros and joes alike — have probably called the series. However, things have continued to get icy as, despite a dominating performance, Warriors guard Klay Thompson (who had himself a night in Game 2) is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.

Market movement in addition to injury news has resulted in the dynamic movement of lines in various markets — both offshore and domestically — raising a fundamental question for NBA sports bettors: Which side has value for Game 3?

Capping Injuries

Sports betting, particularly basketball, can have major line moves given that there are only 10 players on the floor at a time and the critical impact of a single player being so important, a line can move around 1.5-2 points, depending on how important a given player is to a team. There is no doubt that the Warriors need Klay Thompson to be at his best, and him being injured is easily worth 1-1.5 points. While he is listed as questionable, even if he plays, it also calls into question just how much production he could realistically provide the team.

Depending on the marketplace, the line for Game 3 opened with Golden State -5.5 on the spread and a total of 214 points. Moneyline prices have fluctuated, with the Warriors opening as -245 favorites and now presently sitting at around -190 or -200, depending on the book.

Despite the implied opening favorability at 70-percent plus on the moneyline, the Warriors are still heavily favored. A -190 price still gives them a 65-percent chance of winning the game straight-up against the Raptors.

Regardless, an entire point shifting in a marketplace implies there is considerable money moving lines, and part of it may be due to the fact that Klay Thompson’s status, as well as the announcement that Kevin Durant is still not playing, could imply that heavy hitters like the Raptors against a wounded Thompson.

Why the Warriors have Value

The Warriors most certainly have value in this contest given their absolute decimation of the Raptors on their home hardwood. The Warriors, who are absolute killers in the second half — particularly the third quarter — could easily lay waste to the Raptors again on their home floor.

The Warriors in all games this season have been outscoring opponents by a margin of 6-plus points per game, and it rounds up to about 7 points at home. Mind you, that’s with a full squad. But if supplementary players can step up, you could be getting value on this line only laying 4.5 points.
The moneyline being a sub-200 price also deserves a look.

Why the Raptors Have Value

After a dominating 10-point victory in Game 1, the Raptors had the opportunity to put the Warriors in panic mode and go up 2-0. After an atrocious third quarter where they were outscored by 13 points, the inevitable destruction of the Raptors in that game was palpable to just about every fan or gambler watching.
Despite nearly clawing back and tying or winning the game, the Raptors ended the night rightfully disappointed, along with any with a winning stake on them, losing 109-104.

With the loss of home-court advantage due to the Warriors’ road victory, the Raptors now have to fight with a renewed sense of desperation in the next game. The Raptors have essentially outplayed the Warriors in the majority of quarters and fans are letting one (albeit atrocious) third quarter color their perception of the series.

With an injured Thompson and sure-to-be sharp money taking the points in a zig-zag manner in this spot, you might be wagering on a potential straight-up upset win for the Raptors, who are definitely head-hunting for some vengeance after dropping what should’ve been a solid and convincing victory.