The Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics will take on Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
The Celtics advance to the organization’s first finals in more than a decade after eliminating the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. The Warriors will play in their sixth finals in the last eight years after advancing past the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals.
The NBA Finals will tip off Thursday night in San Francisco. But if you’re a bettor interested in placing a wager on the championship series, it’s worth making note of a few betting trends.
Good playoff teams win, Celtics cover
The Celtics have covered the spread in 12 of their 18 postseason contests and their 66.7% rate ranks first among all 16 teams that took part in the NBA playoffs. Golden State ranks third among those teams having covered in 56% of their postseason contests (9-7 ATS). Boston finished its regular season covering in 57% of its games (55-42-3).
Warriors best the postseason total
The Warriors have more wins against the total (10-6) than any other team in the postseason. Their 62.5% hit rate on the total is the highest among teams that played six or more games in the playoffs. It comes after a regular season which Golden State beat the total in 47% of games (45-51-2).
Make moneyline bets wisely
Given the nature of NBA Finals, it’s unlikely there will be many big spreads on the board. Golden State opened as a 3.5-point favorite for Game 1, perhaps indicating that’s where the number will be throughout the series. With that, it makes moneyline bets (depending on which team you’re backing) sometimes insignificant. Over the last eight seasons (45 games), outright winners in the NBA Finals have covered the spread 95.3% of the time (41-2-2 ATS), per VSiN. Those numbers indicate betting the favorite on the moneyline or underdog on the spread may be worth avoiding. So, for example, if you think the Warriors will win Game 1, it’s more profitable to take Golden State -3.5 (-115) than it is to take the hosts on the moneyline (-160). On the contrast, if you think Boston is going to claim the series opener, betting the Celtics on the moneyline (+140) earns you a few extra cents on the dollar in comparison to Celtics +3.5 (-105).
Small home favorites proven vulnerable
It’s unlikely we’ll see many road favorites in the NBA Finals, as perhaps depicted with the Warriors, who have home-court advantage, opening as the series favorite. But small home favorites have had questionable success. The previous 12 home favorites, which are defined as four-point-or-less favorites, in the NBA Finals are just 4-8 straight up and 4-8 against the spread, per VSiN. Home underdogs in the NBA Finals are 1-5 ATS in their last six opportunities, too.
Game 1: Home teams/favorites are on an eight-game winning streak (7-1 ATS) in NBA Finals Game 1s
Game 2: Home teams/favorites have went 5-1 straight up and 4-1-1 ATS in the last six seasons
Game 3: The team that wins Game 2 in the previous nine NBA Finals is 3-6 ATS in Game 3
Game 4: Home teams/favorites, perhaps surprisingly, are 2-7 ATS in Game 4 of the NBA Finals since 2013
Game 5: The previous five Game 5 home teams/favorites all have failed to cover (0-4-1 ATS)
Game 6: Since 2013, the six teams that faced elimination in Game 6 of the NBA Finals went 1-5 ATS
Game 7: Teams coming off a double-digit win in an NBA Finals game are 6-2-1 ATS in Games 5 through 7
*Game trends courtesy of VSiN
Game 1 between the Celtics and Warriors will tip off at 9 p.m. ET at Chase Center.