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2nd-Round Playoff Betting Trends

By Steve Makinen  () 

The NBA first round breezed by, as there was again little drama to the proceedings. However, as per usual, the competitiveness tends to ramp up in parallel with the stakes. The second round will present four intriguing matchups. As the NBA playoffs move into their second round, so does my analysis of the betting trends and systems. Hopefully, you were able to take advantage of the tidbits I offered up a couple of weeks ago for the first round, as many of the trends again proved fruitful for bettors. Hopefully the stuff you’re about to read also pays off handsomely for you. Enjoy the analysis and the action and be sure to check back in two or three weeks as I will break down the conference championship trends at that time.

Before getting into the specific trends, you should know that the percentage of series upsets in the second round is actually less than the first. If you recall, 11 out of 48 lower seeded teams, or 22.9% were able to pull off upsets in the first round. In the second round it has been only four of 24, or 16.7%. Memphis, back in 2013, and Cleveland last year, are the only teams seeded less than 3rd to pull off this feat. Incidentally, the other two upsets were #3’s beating #2’s, Indiana over New York in 2013, and Oklahoma City over San Antonio in 2016.

SCORING TRENDS

• 92 points is a low benchmark for second round success – Teams that score 92 points or less in a second-round playoff game have struggled badly, going just 10-46 SU & 13-43 ATS over the L6 seasons.

• Success accompanies reaching the 106-point mark – Second-round playoff teams scoring 106 points or more boast a record of 68-16 SU & 61- 22-1 ATS over the L6 seasons.

TRENDS BY LINE RANGE

• Big road favorites win & cover - Since the start of the 2013 playoffs, NBA second round road favorites of 5 points or more are 10-0 SU & 8-1-1 ATS. The only team to lose ATS during that span was Oklahoma City in Game 2 of the 2016 first round, to Dallas.

• All road favorites are on a hot stretch – The combined record of the L21 road favorites overall in the second round of the NBA playoffs is 15-6 SU & 12-8-1 ATS.

• Small home favorites have turned things around – Second round home favorites of 4.5 points or less have won eight straight games while going 7-1 ATS. This follows a brutal stretch of 1-13 SU & ATS prior.

LAST GAME TRENDS

• Blowout losers don’t bounce back quickly – Similar to the trend above, teams that lose a secondround playoff game by 20 points or more are on a 7-16 SU & 8-14-1 ATS slide since 2013 in the follow up game.

• Blowout wins carry over for home teams – Teams coming off blowout wins (double-digit margins) and playing at home have been solid wagers, especially when playing as single-digit favorites, as they are on a 10-2 SU & ATS run.

• Close games have a galvanizing effect for road teams – Teams involved in close games decided by 3 points or less, win or lose, bounce back well when playing on the road in the follow up game. In that scenario, these teams are on a 9-4 SU & 10-3 ATS run.

TRENDS BY GAME NUMBER

• Second round series’ opening games are a toss up – Home teams have gone just 14-10 SU & 11-13 ATS over the last six seasons in Game 1’s of the second round. Scoring is up however, with OVER the total on a 17-7 run.

• Upsets occur in Game 1’s with lines of -5.5 or less – Of the last 16 second-round Game 1’s with home favorites of 6 points or more, there has only been four upsets. However, in Game 1’s with home favorites of 5.5 points or less, hosts are only 2-6 SU & 1-7 ATS over the L5 playoff seasons. Last year, Boston actually pulled the upset over Philadelphia as a rare 4.5-point Game 1 home dog.

• Opening game losers are the better Game 2 bet – The “ying-and-yang” bettors’ theory is in play for game 2’s of the second round, as first game losers have bounced back with a record of 14-10 SU & 13-11 ATS since ’13.

• Smaller home favorites get it done in Game 2’s – Home favorites of 7 points or less have gone 11-1 SU & ATS in their L12 second-round Game 2’s, going 9-3 ATS.

• Game 2’s also set a high scoring pace – OVER the total has converted in seven of the L8 second round games over the L2 seasons.

• Game 3’s usually go to the better road teams - Game 3 road teams are on an 13-11 SU & 14-10 ATS run, with outright winners covering the spread in all but one game. Those playing as underdogs of 5 points or less are on a 6-3 SU & ATS surge, making for great money line plays.

• Change of venue has changed scoring trend recently – The L8 second round Game 3 playoff games went UNDER the total after a significant OVER trend in the first two games of these series’.

• Oddsmakers pave the road for Game 4 profits - An interesting trend that has developed over the L6 playoff seasons finds that second-round Game 4 favorites are on a surge of 19-3 SU & 15-6-1 ATS.

• Expect Game 5’s to be tight – Only five of the 19 Game 5’s over the L5 seasons in the second round were decided by more than 10 points. Home teams most often win, going 16-3 SU in that span, but road teams have proven to be the more profitable wager at 12-7 ATS. Home favorites of 5.5-points or more are just 3-11 ATS in that span.

• Teams hoping to close out series’ in Game 5 are met with resistance - Teams looking to close out series’ in Game 5’s are 8-3 SU but 3-8 ATS. Five of the eight teams that did close out their series at this point won their Game 5’s by 4 points or less.

• Teams coming off a win in Game 4 struggle to cover the number in Game 5 – Teams that won game 4 have gone just 5-15 ATS in their L20 game 5’s in the second round.

• Game 6’s are a road play – As pressure mounts in a series as it gets deeper, the better road teams have thrived in Game 6’s, going 8-4 SU & 9-3 ATS in their L12 second round tries. Those looking into close out series’ are on a 7-1 SU & ATS surge.

• Game 7’s are rare AND a formality – There have only been three Game 7’s in the L5 seasons of the second-round playoffs, and home teams have  won & covered each time, all by double-digit margins. These teams have beaten the point spread by 11 PPG.

TRENDS BY SEED NUMBER

• #1 seeds are on a roll in the second round – In their L51 second-round games, #1 seeds are 36-15 SU & 31-20 ATS overall.

• Lay the wood with #1 seeds – Top-seeded teams have been stellar at covering big point spreads, going 24-5 SU & 19-10 ATS in the second round when favored by 6-points or more.

• #2 seeds have closed out opponents well – #2 seeded teams are on an 10-2 SU surge in potential closeout games, going 7-4-1 ATS in the process.

• #2 seeds start slow – As opposed to the first round, #2 seeded teams are on a slide of 8-6 SU & 6-8 ATS in the first game of second-round series over the last six years, of course playing at home.

• #3 seeds’ struggle in the underdog role lately - #3 seeds have gone just 4-12 SU & 6-9-1 ATS in the underdog role over the last three seasons of second round playoffs.

• #3 seeds struggle to put back-to-back wins together - #3 seeds coming off a win in a second round series game are just 4-16 SU & 9-11 ATS in the follow-up contest since 2013.

• Upset winners of the first round don’t win much in second round – Teams seeded #5 or worse have gone just 13-34 SU & 23-24 ATS in their second round games over the L6 seasons.

• First round upset winners are brutal as large underdogs – Teams seeded 5th or lower have gone 1-26 SU & 9-18 ATS when playing as underdogs of 6 points or more. Included in that is a 0-7 SU & ATS record at home.

TRENDS BY TEAMS CLOSING OUT SERIES’ OR FACING ELIMINATION

• Home court is not advantageous to teams facing elimination – Teams facing elimination and playing at home have gone just 8-11 SU & 9-9-1 ATS over the L6 second round playoffs.

• Closeout games have been high scoring lately – Twelve of the L15 games in which a team had a chance to close out a series have gone OVER the total.

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