Today’s biggest bets and line moves: Bettors lean toward 76ers’ odds vs. Bucks
An Eastern Conference clash, albeit with a possible shortage of star power, highlights a slim Thursday card in the NBA. Covers checks in on the action and odds movement for that matchup, along with the NIT title game, some baseball and hockey, with insights from Will Bernanke, lead analyst for CG Analytics in Las Vegas.
With four games remaining, Milwaukee leads the league on the court and against the oddsmakers, with a 58-20 SU mark and a 46-28-4 ATS record. The Bucks have won five of their last six (4-1-1 ATS), including a 131-121 victory at Brooklyn catching 1.5 points Monday.
Philadelphia is fairly safe at third place in the Eastern Conference, despite losing four of its last six games SU and ATS. The 76ers (49-29 SU, 36-42 ATS) are on a back-to-back in this 8 p.m. ET tip, after losing at Atlanta 130-122 as 4.5-point favorites Wednesday.
Jimmy Butler (back), Joel Embiid (knee) and JJ Redick (quad) are all listed as questionable for the Sixers. But bettors at CG books, including at The Cosmopolitan and Venetian on the Vegas Strip, are leaning toward Philly.
“It’s very low handle,” Bernanke said of pointspread play. “Tickets are running even, and 60 percent of the cash is on the 76ers.”
Lipscomb Bison vs. Texas Longhorns – Open: -1.5; Move: None
Lipscomb won the Atlantic Sun regular-season crown, but lost to Liberty in the conference tournament final and couldn’t swing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bison (29-7 SU, 19-15 ATS) instead plowed to four consecutive wins and covers in the National Invitation Tournament, including a 71-64 victory over Wichita State in a pick ‘em semifinal Tuesday night.
Texas had no shot at an NCAA bid after a 16-16 SU campaign (15-17 ATS), but made the most of its invitation to the Little Dance. The Longhorns (20-16 SU, 17-19 ATS) won four straight to reach the 7 p.m. ET final at Madison Square Garden, dispatching Texas Christian 58-44 as 1-point pups in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
“Tickets and money are running fairly even,” Bernanke said.
Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians – Open: -160; Move: -167; Move: -175; Move: -180; Move: -170; Move: -175; Move: -180; Move: -176; Move: -185
Cleveland heads into this four-game series after a 2-3 start to the regular season. On Wednesday, the Indians got lit up by the Chicago White Sox 8-3 as -181 home favorites.
Toronto goes on the road for the first time, after posting a 3-4 mark in a season-opening seven-game homestand. The Blue Jays snapped a three-game skid by beating Baltimore 5-3 as -146 home faves Tuesday.
Bettors are on starter Trevor Bauer and Cleveland in this 6:10 p.m. ET contest.
“Five times more Cleveland tickets, and money is 91 percent on Cleveland,” Bernanke said of action that moved the line from Indians -160 to -185. “Respected money has come in on Cleveland, too.”
Neither team is out of the gate strong this season. Cincinnati won its season opener at home against Pittsburgh, then lost four in a row. The Reds (1-4) got shut out by Milwaukee 1-0 as -116 favorites Wednesday.
Pittsburgh enters this 7:05 p.m. ET meeting after losing two in a row at home to St. Louis. On Wednesday, the Pirates (1-3) fell 5-4 as slim -102 pups.
“Sharp money on the Reds this morning, and ticket count is running even,” Bernanke said.
At No. 7 in the Eastern Conference, Carolina is in the playoffs for the moment, with the regular season ending on Saturday. But the Hurricanes (44-29-5-2) are just one point ahead of No. 8 Columbus and No. 9 Montreal. Carolina halted a 1-3 hiccup with a 4-1 win at Toronto laying -116 Tuesday.
New Jersey is second-to-last in the East and playing nothing but the spoiler role. The Devils (30-40-6-4) topped the New York Rangers 4-2 as -110 home favorites Monday.
“The Hurricanes could be a big liability, as they need to win,” Bernanke said of this 7 p.m. ET faceoff. “Thus far, all square action on Carolina, not much else going on.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.