Stephen Curry hit two free throws in the waning seconds Saturday night, capping a big comeback by the Golden State Warriors and sinking underdog bettors who were too late to pull the trigger.
But Curry’s free throws were no nuisance to followers of a red-hot NBA betting trend that is opening eyes and filling wallets.
As mentioned Saturday afternoon on the VSiN show “The Green Zone,” teams returning home down 2-0 in a series are in a play-on situation in the first quarter and first half. The team facing a series deficit typically blasts out of the gate with a sense of urgency. The team in command of the series is typically more relaxed and often overwhelmed early in front of a hostile crowd.
Five teams in the first round — Indiana, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Atlanta and Portland — returned home down 2-0. All five teams covered the first quarter and first half lines in Game 3, putting the trend at 10-0 against the spread.
This trend is 12-0 when going back to Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers, returning home down 2-0 to the Warriors, ran out to leads of 33-16 after the first quarter and 51-43 at halftime.
The trend does not include road teams down 2-0, but it worked Friday for the Boston Celtics, who led 33-15 after the first quarter in a blowout of the Bulls in Chicago.
The first quarter and first half angle has been more profitable than betting the game line. It makes sense that the superior team’s strength is more likely to show over 48 minutes than just the first 12 or 24 minutes.
In this first round, for example, the Cavaliers closed as 1½-point favorites at Indiana in Game 3. The Pacers raced to a 74-49 halftime lead, but the wheels fell off in the second half and they lost 119-114.
On Saturday in Portland, the Trail Blazers led the Warriors 37-30 after one quarter and 67-54 at halftime, easily covering the first-quarter line and as 2½-point underdogs in the half.
But Curry and Klay Thompson heated up and the superior team took control as Golden State rallied to win 119-113. With Kevin Durant sitting out, the game line on the Warriors dropped from minus-6½ in mid-afternoon to 4½. Curry’s free throws with 9 seconds to go covered the closing line.
All trends eventually come to an end, but this is one worth watching in the following rounds.