For the two prior games at Orlando I have told subscribers that the predicted point differential is 4 to 5 pts. The first game ended regulation at a 4 point differential, and the second game ended regulation within just two baskets of the prediction. Tonight's prediction hasn't changed. With the line set at -3 1/2 the game isn't playable.
Many of you will be watching the game tonight, and want to have some action on it. For those people, there is a hedging strategy that will give you the best of the probabilities. Consider this strategy similar to an option spread or an option strangle strategy when investing in stocks.
Orlando has played better ball in the first half than in the second half of their games at Orlando. There are several reasons why this may be happening. The reason, however, is less important than the fact that it is happening.
Orlando knows it must win this game to stay alive. I expect them to come out playing on all cylinders tonight. If they fail to cover the 3 1/2 point spread, it is likely to be as a result of their play in the second half, rather than their play in the first half. Thus, I am proposing to start the strategy by playing on Orlando in the first half at -2.
As I said earlier, the Lakers are a toss up at the line for the game. Given they have a 50-50 chance of covering if my handicap is correct, I will hedge the first half and take advantage of the probability that the Magic will again play more poorly in the second half by taking the Lakers + 3 1/2 for the game.
Now for the halftime play. If Orlando is ahead by more than 2 at the half, the worst I can do for the night is breakeven. If, the Lakers have covered the first half, I will have lost my first half bet, but since the Lakers are ahead of the spread the probability is higher than 50% that the Lakers will cover the game, and I have the best of it for a push.
If the Lakers are ahead big at the half, I can sit back and relax in the knowledge that I have a high probability of simply pushing on the night.
The biggest downside of the bet will be that the Lakers win the first half, but fail to cover the game. I consider this event, based on my handicap, to be the least likely event. The result, however, will be a loss of 2 units.
If Orlando wins the first half and the Lakers cover the game, the win will be 2 units.
If anything else happens you will push.
The chance to lose 2 units handicaps to be the lowest probability of all the possibilities.
Before I go, one quick word on the points vs. money line tonight. The actual value of 3 ? points in the NBA is exactly -155. The money line tonight is set -155. If you bet the -155 money line, it is the equivalent of saving the vig, because the value of the 3 1/2 points plus the -110 vig you need to lay on the points is -157.5. If you like Orlando in the game, bet the Money Line up to -157. At -158 and above bet the points.
I'll do an article on calculating the point values in the NBA at another time.