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NBA Finals Betting Trends

By Steve Makinen  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

As the NBA Finals continue, we wanted to re-run our NBA Trends article from last week, and we’ve updated some of our trends below as needed.

Before getting into the specific trends, you should know that of the last six seasons, the better seed has won each of the five times there were uneven seeds. The last upset in a finals, at least as far as seed placement is concerned, was in 2013, when the Heat upended the Spurs in seven games. Also note that outright winners are 33-2-1 ATS over the L6 seasons, a glowing endorsement for money line wagering on underdogs.

SCORING TRENDS

  • 92 points is a low benchmark for NBA Finals success – Identical to what we found in the conference finals, teams that score 92 points or less in a NBA Finals playoff game have struggled badly, going just 1-16 SU & ATS over the L6 seasons.
  • Success accompanies reaching the 103-point mark – NBA Finals teams scoring 103 points or more boast a record of 30-9 SU & 28-9-2 ATS over the L6 seasons. If you recall, the magic number for the second round was just 112 points, and for the conference finals 106, much higher numbers.

GENERAL TRENDS

  • Home teams are a slightly better option – Hosts in the NBA Finals are 21-15 SU & 18-17-1 ATS since 2013.
  • Winners cover – Over the L6 seasons, and 36 games, outright winners have gone 33-2-1 ATS in the NBA Finals.

TRENDS BY LINE RANGE

  • Big home favorites get it done - Since the start of the 2013 playoffs, NBA Finals favorites of 5.5 points or more are 14-3 SU & 12-4-1 ATS. This success level is similar to that from the conference finals round if you recall. All of these have been home favorites.
  • Small home favorites have been vulnerable – Again like the conference finals, the record of the L10 small home favorites (-5 points or less) in the NBA Finals is just 4-6 SU & ATS.
  • Home underdogs’ bark is less than their bite – Home underdogs in the NBA Finals have proven to be overmatched recently, going just 1-5 SU & ATS in their L6 opportunities.
  • Games with vulnerable home teams have meant OVER’s – Nine of the L13 NBA Finals’ games with home teams playing as underdogs or favorites of 2 points or less have gone OVER the total.

LAST GAME TRENDS

  • Bad shooting games have carried over negative momentum in The Finals – Teams coming off games where they shot less than 41.5% in a NBA Finals game are just 1-8 SU & ATS outright in their L9 tries.
  • Good 3PT shooting games don’t carry momentum – While poor shooting games overall don’t bode well for teams in the next NBA Finals game, neither does hot 3-point shooting, as teams that shoot 47% or better from deep have lost six straight follow-up games while going 0-5-1 ATS.
  • Embarrassing losses have galvanized teams – In the L6 NBA Finals series, there have been three games decided by 30 points or more. In all three cases, the team that lost bounced back with an outright & ATS win in the next game.

TRENDS BY GAME NUMBER

  • Game 3’s have been higher scoring – Following the same pattern of the conference finals, after low-scoring Game 2’s, scoring is up in Game 3’s with four of the L6 NBA Finals games going OVER the total.
  • Home team Game 4’s that won Game 3 are bad bets – Home teams that won their NBA Finals Game 3 are 0-3 SU & ATS since 2013 in Game 4, losing all three times by double-digits, despite being favored in two of the games.
  • Momentum has been a big factor in Games 5-7 – The later a series gets, the more important momentum has become, as teams coming off a win in a NBA Finals game are 6-3 SU & 7-1-1 ATS in Games 5-7 of a series.

TRENDS BY SEED NUMBER

(note that this year’s Finals matches a #2 in Toronto versus a #1 in Golden State)

  • #2 seeds struggle against the #’1 – In the last seven NBA Finals series, there have been four different #2 seeds playing, all against #’1. The combined record of those teams is just 8-17 SU & 9-15-1 ATS in their L25 NBA Finals games when playing as underdogs or favorites of 4.5 points or less, #1 seeds are just 8-20 SU & 10-18 ATS.
  • Lay the wood again with #1 seeds vs. #2’s– Top-seeded teams playing at home against #2 teams are on a run of 10-1 SU & 8-2-1 ATS in their L11 NBA Finals opportunities.
  • When #2 seeds do win over #’1, it’s because of defense - #2 seeded teams are on 5-1 SU & ATS surge when holding #1 seeds below 100 points in NBA Finals series games.
  • #2 seeds can’t put back-to-back wins together versus #1’s – 2015 Cleveland, in games 2 & 3, is the only one of the recent three #2 seeded teams to put back-to-back wins together in a NBA Finals series. The others have combined to go 0-9 SU & 1-7-1 ATS following up a win.
  • The only #1 vs. #1 matchup was in 2016 – In the L6 years, the only time that two #1 seeds matched up in the NBA Finals was in 2016, the year Lebron & Cleveland beat Golden State 4-3. Home teams were 4-3 SU & ATS in that series and outright winners went 7-0 ATS.

TRENDS BY TEAMS CLOSING OUT SERIES OR FACING ELIMINATION

  • Closeout games have been high scoring – In the L6 games where ONE of the two teams was looking to close out a series, OVER the total is 5-1.
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