Whether you like to fade the public or not, having an understanding of which side the majority of bettors are on can be useful for handicapping purposes.
On the NBA’s busiest nights, BTB will take a look at the three biggest public plays on the board and speculate what the public sees and why they are betting a particular side.
BTB Note: All public betting percentages are taken from the very useful site SportsInsights.com, which does a fantastic job of gathering public betting information across all sports.
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BOBCATS @ RAPTORS, 7 P.M. ET
Open: Toronto -6.5
Current: Toronto -7
Public Betting %: 70% on Toronto
What they see: Well, duh. It’s the Bobcats, losers of 16 straight and owners of the league’s second-worst ATS mark (10-19).
Analysis: Usually the Raptors are on the opposite end of the public bettors, but this is what happens when you’re laying only a handful of points to the pathetic Bobcats, who have lost 20 games by seven or more points this season.
Charlotte is 1-15 straight up and 6-10 ATS on the road, falling by an average of 16.4 points.
It’s not like Toronto is sizzling hot, losing six of its past seven, but you’d have to figure it has enough to get by the Bobcats. Charlotte will win eventually, but I don’t recommend chasing losing streaks.
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HEAT @ CAVALIERS, 7:30 P.M. ET
Open: Miami -8
Current: Miami -9.5
Public Betting %: 78% on Miami
What they see: It’s LeBron James’ third time playing in Cleveland since his egomaniacal departure in summer 2010. In two trips there last season, the Heat lost 102-90 as 13.5-point favorites, and won 118-90 as 5.5-point favorites.
Analysis: LeBron is
never always one to call attention to himself, and he’s made news over the past couple days by announcing he’s open to the possibility of returning to Cleveland when he’s a free agent again in 2014.
Turns out, he’s been lobbing peace signals at Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert for months.
What the hell is wrong with this guy? He’s been in Miami for 19 months! Wait a second, though. How is LeBron going to win eight championships with the Heat if he bolts for Cleveland in two years? (“When I say that, I really believe it.” OK, LeBron. We got ya, buddy.)
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HORNETS @ KNICKS, 8 P.M. ET
Open: New York -11
Current: New York -9.5
Public Betting %: 81% on New York
What they see: Even if the Knicks announced Jeremy Lin would be playing this game one-on-five, I’m still not certain the public would like the Hornets.
Analysis: It’s important to note that the line has dropped 1.5 points in the Hornets’ favor despite an overwhelming majority of bettors backing Lin and New York.
The fact is, Lin has made the Knicks as public as it gets. They’re in the No. 1 market, and now they have oodles of star power and publicity coupled with that. Sharper bettors will likely be looking to play against New York in the coming weeks, putting oddsmakers in a really tough spot.
I don’t envy the guys setting the lines on these Knicks’ games. They know that no matter how high the line is, public bettors will be all over Linsanity. But if they make it too high, bigger money will come flooding in on the opponent.