Sports Betting

If you want to get in on the NBA betting action, here’s a look at each playoff series.

While it’s easy to use point spreads to determine the perceived superior team in each ongoing NBA Playoff series, building a Power Ratings scale that accurately reflects the current market is tricky because of varying home court values.

It’s been awhile since VSiN has had a chance to update this theme amidst the current sports frenzy. Jonathan Von Tobel (co-host of “The Edge” weekdays from 2-5 p.m.) and I put our heads together to build a scale that represented the market four games into the second round.

We started with the following facts…

Toronto was priced around -6.5 to -7 at home vs. Philadelphia, and -1 to -1.5 on the road until it was thought Pascal Siakam would miss Sunday’s fourth game. That would suggest Toronto is about -3.5 on a neutral court with both teams at full strength. Our scale should have the Raptors about 3-4 points higher on the ladder. We’ll stay conservative and make it three points.

Denver was around -4 at home vs. Portland, while the Blazers were shaded just below that at the Moda Center. We’re going to call these teams even on a neutral court because Denver usually gets extra respect at altitude.

Milwaukee was around -7.5 to -8 at home vs. Boston, while the Celtics closed at -1.5 in both of its first two home games. That’s a wider adjustment than you’d expect for a series not involving altitude…about nine to 9.5 points. Easy enough to bisect, though. A neutral court line off those numbers would be Milwaukee -3.5. The Bucks will sit three rungs higher than the Celtics.

Golden State was -6 and -5.5 at home vs. Houston, while the Rockets were -3.5 and -1.5 in the Lone Star state. Because the Rockets could only manage a regulation tie when laying -3.5, that was probably too high. Let’s call it Golden State by 2.5 on a neutral court.

The futures board has been showing Golden State and Milwaukee as the class of their respective conferences for weeks. With that in mind, Jonathan and I will go with estimated “mid-second round” market Power Ratings of Golden State 90, Milwaukee 87, Houston 87, Toronto 86, Boston 84, Philadelphia 83, Denver 83, Portland 83.

As we’ve discussed in the past, this type of exercise helps you “get inside the head” of the market. It’s impossible to know for sure what’s going to happen in any given game. But, you can evaluate whether or not the market is properly pricing the possibilities. Sharps beat the market because they look for value.

You can also use estimated “market” Power Ratings to project likely point spreads for future rounds…

If it gets past Houston, Golden State may be favored in every Western Conference Championship game vs. the worn down survivor of Denver/Portland.

The Warriors would probably be home favorites of around -5 to -6 points vs. Milwaukee in the NBA Finals if favorites keep advancing. The Bucks would probably be slight home favorites. That’s worth remembering because Milwaukee would hold home court advantage if that matchup comes to fruition. (Toronto has earned that potential perk vs. the Warriors as well.)

Jonathan and I will continue to update our estimated “market” Power Ratings periodically through the rest of the NBA postseason. Do you see any examples where the market may be overrating or underrating a contender in a way you can exploit?

Other Notes

Two Game Sixes are on the betting board Thursday night. Both will air on ESPN. Toronto visits Philadelphia at 7 p.m., followed by Denver at Portland at 9:30 p.m. If those series go the distance, finales will be played Sunday.

Checking in on the latest market news for the New Orleans Saints…they’re currently centered globally at 8/1 to win the Super Bowl, just behind the New England Patriots (7/1), and Kansas City (7/1). The Saints are tied with the Los Angeles Rams, last year’s controversial entry in the big game, who are also 8/1.

You can deduce that the Saints and Rams are tied to win the NFC. Most global sites have each at 4/1 to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Chicago and Philadelphia are right on their heels at 7/1 (Bears and Eagles are in the range of 14/1 to 16/1 to win the Lombardi Trophy).

Many stores are already offering “Regular Season Win Totals” where you can bet “Over” or “Under.” The Saints are sitting at 10.5 wins everywhere. Only New England at 11 wins has a higher threshold. (Again, these are “regular season” wins only, playoff victories are not counted).

More on the Saints through the summer. VSiN returns Saturday with more sports coverage from a betting market perspective.

Jeff Fogle writes the daily VSiN newsletter. Sign up at