NBA Finals Betting Trends

By Malcolm Darnley | May 31, 2022 11:22 PM

Today we count down to the opening tip of the 2022 NBA Finals.

At the beginning of these playoffs, it was the Phoenix Suns who were the odds favorite to win it all.

We boldly predicted here that Phoenix was not the right play to make based on the historical data and trends we were seeing.

Hopefully, you listened to us.

In that same article, we also mentioned that instead of the Suns at +260, there might be better value on Philadelphia (+1400) or Brooklyn (+800) to be the last team standing.

Combined, the 76ers and Nets won a total of 6 games these playoffs.

Hopefully, you stopped listening to us before we suggested that.

This week, we have burdened our data science guru with a ton of stats and information regarding the NBA finals.

Once again, Data_Josh did not disappoint.

Let’s go.

Blindly Betting Series Underdogs

We started our NBA Finals analysis with some easy math.

Over the last 20 years, we wondered if there was any value in just picking one side (in our case, Underdogs) and blindly betting them to win each year.

Looking at our graph above, we can see that blindly betting on underdogs has proven to be a profitable idea over the last 20 years.

Although favorites have won 12 of the last 20 finals, it is the ‘dawgs who have been profitable during that time.

The most notable underdog to payout was the 2004 Detroit Pistons. In hindsight, we know now that Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and those Pistons teams were great.

But Shaq, Kobe, and Gary Payton were also pretty good. The Pistons paid out at +500 that year.

Favorites Roll In Game One

One would assume that if the underdogs have managed to win eight of the last 20 NBA Finals, then in Game One of the series, they must hold their own.

One would be wrong.

The blue line in our graph above shows us that favorites actually dominate Game One of the series 83% of the time.

Not only do the favorites win the series opener, but in 15 of the last 18 NBA Finals, the favorite has covered the spread in the first game.

15 of 18 is kinda a big deal. A $100 bettor would be up almost $1100 in that time, which is an ROI of 59%.

I wish I had a good explanation as to why that is, but I don’t.

That said, Data_Josh and I have pooled our shekels and are all over Golden State -3.5 in Game One. For your Best Odds on Golden State click here.

The blue line of our graph below also highlights that over the last 20 years, betting the Game One under has also proven profitable, but not at nearly the same rate as favorites.

Buyer beware though: Over the last 10 years, betting the under in Game One has actually lost money, with Overs paying out 6 of the last 10 times.

Fumbled Snaps and Double Doinks

There is this social media thing out there called Twitter. Maybe you are already familiar with it. On the Twitter, people post a lot of different things.

When you are into sports betting, there are some amazing people to follow.

One of those amazing follows is Sal Vetri. Another one is our boy DK and the BestOdds account.

With NFL season only a few months away, Sal recently asked the Twitterverse some of the more creative ways they selected their NFL fantasy league draft order.

The replies provided did not disappoint.

  • 40-yard dash
  • Field goal competition
  • Beer pong lottery
  • Dodge Ball challenge

Of course, any pool with Tommy Pham in it might just want to let Tommy draft first. He appears to take his fantasy football seriously.

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