In the sports betting community, closing line value, or CLV, is a popular concept that is used as a tool to help project long-term success.
If the bets that you place are consistently beating where the lines close, there is a good chance that, more often than not, you’ll be on the right side of them.
For example, Toronto opened -9.5 against Utah last week. If you took the Raps at -10 or even -11, you got solid closing line value, as the line closed at Raps -13.5. Toronto went on to win that game 122-108.
In the exercise below, I reviewed all 52 games over the past seven days and cherry-picked the games with the biggest line movement.
Seeing where the public moved game lines could draw insights into both fallacies and opportunities.
Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers
Open: LAL +1
Close: LAL -3
Result: MEM 127, LAL 119
This game happened on Sunday, and, at the time, Memphis was riding an eight-game win streak. There are two takeaways from this line movement and the result:
1. The public still wasn’t buying the Grizzlies hype. Memphis had wins over Phoenix, Brooklyn, and Cleveland during this run but that didn’t deter bettors from moving the line four points in the opposite direction. In the eight games prior, Ja Morant and company had a 13.5 net rating, third best over that period. Memphis has played two games since beating the Lakers with both lines moving against them once again. On the road in Golden State, the line closed one point down; up against Minnesota on Thursday, it went two points down. The Grizz won both games by eight points. They’ve now covered 10 of their past 11 games against the spread.
2. The popularity of LeBron James and the Lakers continues to skew betting volume in their favour. They currently sit at 17-25-0 ATS, fourth worst of all NBA teams. The Lakers are winning games against sub-.500 teams but have struggled mightily against the elite. They have a 2-9 record against the top four teams from both conferences.
Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls
Open: CHI -1
Close: CHI +1.5
Results: BKN 138, CHI 112
One of the marquee matchups of the season, Brooklyn’s big three had their season debut against the Eastern Conference-leading Bulls. The public nailed this game flipping the spread in Brooklyn’s favour and pumping up the total eight points while still covering. Takeaways:
1. Much like the Lakers, Brooklyn is terrible ATS this season, third worst with a 15-25-1 record. Against the same eight elite teams as mentioned above, the Nets were a staggering 0-8-0 ATS prior to Wednesday’s matchup. While there was substance in their track record, adding in Kyrie Irving with the two other superstars completely changed the math. It was a statement game for their big three and they delivered. Without Irving, the Nets wouldn’t have such strong odds to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
2. Chicago’s public perception was at an all-time high going into this game. They had won 10 of their past 11 games, DeMar DeRozan had nailed two iconic buzzer beaters back-to-back and they jumped into the Eastern Conference lead over this stretch. Unfortunately, none of the 10 opponents they beat were locked into playoff berths. The Lakers were the highest seed at seventh in the West. The public picked up on that and correctly predicted this to be a shootout. The Nets went on to shoot 56-53-82 for the game. Elite stuff.
Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets
Open: DEN -8
Close: DEN -11.5
Result: POR 108, DEN 140
With the volume of injuries and late scratches over the past month, bettors have been forced to do some quick math on the impact of key absences. This line opened at -8 with four of Portland’s five starters already marked out including replacement starter, Anfernee Simons. The Blazers were paper-thin, and the market pounced on Denver to punish them.
1. Portland has done a decent job ATS since Damian Lillard went down going 3-3-0. The team continued to hold on with Norman Powell and Larry Nance Jr. also going down last week, but Simons’ absence was the dagger. With no above-average playmaker running the offence, the Blazers struggled to keep up with Denver.
2. This game was the best example over the past seven days of how extreme some results can be with replacement players being forced into the starting five. Think back to the Raptors game against Cleveland on Boxing Day where guys like D.J. Wilson and Yuta Watanabe were starters. The line closed with the Raps at +9. They lost the game by 45 points.
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