Bettors have figured it out: If you like an underdog in the NBA playoffs, bet the moneyline and not the spread.
Only a few games in these playoffs have seen the underdog cover the spread but not win. Since you get better odds to take an underdog on the moneyline, that's been the way to play it through the first round and a few games into the second round.
That's why there's an odd betting pattern — with a curious point spread move at BetMGM — on the Milwaukee Bucks-Brooklyn Nets Game 2 showdown.
Bucks-Nets point spread moving Milwaukee's way
At BetMGM, most of the money on the point spread is coming in on Brooklyn. Of the bets on the spread, 65 percent of tickets and 60 percent of money are on the Nets.
But the moneyline (which eliminates the point spread and is just a bet on which team will win straight up) is a different story. The Bucks are getting 54 percent of the tickets and 55 percent of the money for all the moneyline bets on Game 2. If people like the Bucks, they're taking them at -105 odds on the moneyline.
That contrast might be a reason there is a strange movement on the point spread. Even though the Nets are getting just about two-thirds of the bets on the spread, the spread is moving toward the Bucks. The Bucks opened as 2.5-point underdogs — less than the 3.5 they were getting in Game 1, when they lost — and they're all the way down to 1-point underdogs at BetMGM.
The Nets will be without James Harden, who left with an injury in the first minute of Game 1. But the Nets won without him, are the clear NBA title favorites and they're getting most of the bets. It's curious to see the line moving Milwaukee's way.
Suns are a favorite of bettors
The other NBA game on Monday night has 6a more straightforward betting pattern. People like the favorite and the line is moving toward them.
The Phoenix Suns are 5-point favorites over the Denver Nuggets for Game 1. Phoenix has gone from 4-point favorites to 4.5 to 5. The Suns are getting 68 percent of the money on all point spread bets, and 75 percent of the money on all moneyline bets.
The Suns were overlooked in the first round, because they were facing the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns took care of the Lakers in six games and bettors obviously paid attention. The Nuggets have the MVP favorite in Nikola Jokic, but they're not a marquee franchise and won't take any headlines away from the Suns this series.
The Suns and Nets are favored and getting most of the bets. But only one of them is becoming a bigger favorite leading up to Monday night's games.
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