The Injuries That Matter When Betting NBA Playoffs

If you follow my content here or on Twitter, then you know by now that I often talk about avoiding overreactions to injuries in sports betting — especially in pro sports. 

Usually sportsbooks know about the injury and if it’s a star player, they have a solid feel on what the adjustment should be. You’re not going to get much of an advantage in these spots. 

That doesn’t mean you should assume the books are always one step ahead of the public. Occasionally they are caught as off guard as you are and these are the situations where you really want to pay attention. 

The Rondo injury for the Bulls was exactly one of those spots Friday night (and hope you caught OddsShark Live, where I recommended taking the Celtics). The Bulls unexpectedly announced he’d be out for Friday’s game with a thumb fracture that nobody really knew about since he gutted out all of Game 2 in Boston. 

After the news came out, the Bulls plummeted from 2-point favorites to 2-point underdogs in a 4-point move that I assure you oddsmakers were not happy about making. It signals to bettors that they were caught with their pants down and yet they can’t make the true adjustment they’d like to because it leaves too much vulnerability. 

Sharps noticed and Dave Mason at Sportsbook said one big-money player pounded the Celtics leading up to game time. 

Rondo averaged 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10 assists in two playoff games against the C’s. Impressive numbers. Yet he’s one of those injuries that recreational bettors or DFS players might overlook. 

Rondo is a veteran player who’s not at the peak of his career and his numbers won’t blow you away but his impact on this team is hard to measure. 

Assists and team play are where the Bulls desperately need Rondo. They averaged 25 assists through the first two games as a team and had just 14 assists when they got manhandled in Game 3. Rondo is the glue that keeps this Bulls team together and without him, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade seem to struggle to work with one another.   

Boston is a 2.5-point favorite on Sunday for Game 4 and I think we might be seeing some value with the Celtics once again. 

While Rondo is exactly the kind of injury that bettors want to stay peeled for, the injury Friday night to L.A. Clippers star Blake Griffin is the kind of injury that doesn’t provide much betting advantage. Griffin is out for the playoffs with a toe issue and books didn’t flinch in setting Utah as a 2.5-point favorite for Sunday’s Game 5. 

Griffin is a star. The public will overreact to these ones, not sportsbooks. Oddsmakers have plenty of data about how the Clippers perform without him thanks to his injuries last year so don’t expect any weaknesses in the line here. 

Utah opened at -2.5 with the total of 197.5 and I would say to look at the OVER but sportsbooks have learned. Last year they set Clippers totals too low in the only two playoff games that Griffin has missed for L.A., in Games 5 and 6 against Portland. Both games went OVER in what were Clippers losses but L.A. went 1-1 against the spread. 

So keep an eye out for the Rondo kind of injuries the rest of the playoffs and don’t spend too much time torturing yourself over the Griffin kind of injuries. Books have the edge with the latter. 

Follow me on Twitter @JonnyOddsShark

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