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Suns – Spurs: Suns Favored, But Not... | May

Checking the line on Monday night's game we see the Suns are favored by 4.5. Of course, the standard point boost for being on one's own home floor is typically about 6 points. Naturally this is not set in stone and drops down to 5.5 or maybe even 5 points for the lower scoring more defensive minded teams. But more often than not, if a team is favored by say 10 at home, they'll be favored by about 4 against the same team on the road. By this logic, Vegas considers the Spurs the better team, if only slightly.

I wasn't able to find any Vegas lines for the series, so I went to Pinnacle Sports. They had the series line at Suns (-134), Spurs (+121). Since Pinnacle has the best lines in the world, I would guess the typical Vegas line to be roughly Suns (-135), Spurs (+115). Which of course, has the Suns favored slightly.

This isn't exactly a contradiction per se. The Suns do have home field advantage, so even if the Spurs are theoretically a slightly better team, the odds should still be in the favor of the Suns. Of course, this isn't what the Vegas lines represent is it?

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The Vegas lines aren't made with the intention of reflecting a perfect line of advantage. They are created with the hopes of creating equal betting on both sides of the bet. This discrepancy is what allows a small (A Very Small!) collection of bettors to regularly profit on betting NBA lines.

As big of a Suns fan as I am, I don't think I could bet on this series. I agree with the Vegas lines, which all but say this series is too close to call. However, if I were a man of leisure and money were no object, I could see myself do the following on a lark. But first, the disclaimer:

Please note, the following is really foolish betting at its best and is intended for amusement purposes only! No professional bettor alive will give crappy advice like this. In fact, they will say this violates the cardinal rule of betting: Never hedge your bets! You have been warned. Anyone foolish enough to try this gets what they deserve.

So why mention it? Because I find these things to be interesting thought experiments. Nothing more, nothing less.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, if I were a man of leisure and money were no object, I would bet $100 on the Spurs to win the series. (This is an arbitrary value. If money were no object, then who knows, maybe I'd be crazy enough to bet $1000.) Why? Because if the Spurs win, then I win $115 (plus my original $100 for those who know nothing of money lines).

I figure the Suns and the Spurs are pretty even and the home court isn't really going to be much of a factor. I see this series being similar to the Portland series in that, if the Spurs dictate the pace and the game is slow paced, then the Spurs win. If the game is up tempo, the Suns win. Thus, the probability of the Spurs walking out of Phoenix with a 1-1 split after the first two games is pretty good.

With a series this close, if that happens, It is likely the Spurs will then have a slight advantage in the money line, say Suns (+100), Spurs (-120). At this point, I could buy out my previous bet by betting even money on the Suns. I could bet $107.50 on them and regardless of who won the series, I have now locked in a profit of $7.50.

This is what makes hedging your bets so foolish. You are hoping to bet $207.50 to win $215! And this only works if the Spurs seize the advantage at some point in the series.

Of course, if money were no object, it would be worth it to me to see the Suns seize the advantage from game 1 on and maintain it the whole series and wind up losing the $100 bet on the Spurs. So that's the way I'm going to play it in my mind. A pretend bet of $100, no make it $1000 on the Spurs. If the Spurs end up taking the series, I make money on my Suns losing. If I lose the bet, I get to see my Suns play the Lakers, oops, I mean the winner of the Lakers-Jazz series in the conference finals.

If I were a man of leisure, it would be a win-win.