Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics overcame a 42-point triple-double from LeBron James to down the Cleveland Cavaliers, 107-94, on Tuesday. The King and the other Cavaliers are now in an 0-2 hole. Game 3 (Saturday 8:30 p.m. ET) is a must-win for the Cavs as the series shifts to Cleveland.
After back-to-back Boston wins and consecutive covers, casual bettors are buying the C’s. Boston opened as a 5-point underdog in Game 3, and 81% of bettors think Brad Stevens’ crew can cash another ticket. (You can find live betting percentages here.)
Despite this wave of public money, the line hasn’t moved. In fact, Cleveland has become a bigger favorite (Cavs -6.5). When a majority of spread bets are on one team but the line swings in the other direction, it is called reverse line movement (RLM).
Reverse line movement is an indication of sharp money. Savvy bettors who snagged Cleveland -5 when the line opened are sitting pretty. For everyone else, following the RLM could be dangerous.
According to Bet Labs, teams getting fewer than 50% of spread bets in the regular season but see the line head in their direction have gone 2,799-2,807-106 (49.9%) ATS since 2005. It has not been profitable to blindly follow reverse line movement in the regular season.
Does this trend hold in the playoffs?