The Utah Jazz will once again be playing shorthanded on Friday night when they face the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. Potential NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, will miss his second consecutive game after sustaining a hyperextended left knee with just 20 seconds remaining in Saturday’s Game 1 victory. But how has this announcement affected the spread?
After closing as 9-point underdogs in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, the Jazz opened as 1-point home favorites in Friday’s matchup at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook. With Gobert’s injury status initially listed as questionable, bettors were lining up to take the Clippers with 51% of spread tickets and 82% of spread dollars. Despite that one-sided money percentage, the spread didn’t move until Gobert was officially ruled out on Thursday afternoon, at which point Utah dropped from -1 to +1.5.
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Since oddsmakers were already aware of Gobert’s injury, their opening line (Jazz -1) represented a hedge. If Gobert was available to play, Utah would have likely moved from -1 to -2 or even -2.5. In fact, the Jazz actually did close as 2.5-point favorites when these two teams faced off in Utah back on March 13 (Utah won 114-108). However, oddsmakers were forced to adjust the line from Jazz -1 to +1.5 after the announcement that Gobert would be sidelined for Game 3.
With Gobert out, we have already seen the percentage of spread bettors taking Los Angeles increase from 51% to 55%. If public bettors continue to pound the Clippers, it will be interesting to see whether oddsmakers continue to adjust the spread — especially given the past success of contrarian home teams during the NBA playoffs.
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