NBA Playoff Trends Worth Betting

By Malcolm Darnley | April 14, 2022 5:43 PM

Big-time players win big-time games. If you look at the NBA Champions over the last 10 years, there is a common theme among those teams:

Each of those teams had a legitimate first-tier Superstar on the roster.

Not a really good player, but a “pay full price for admission to watch this guy play” type of player.

(Even if Raptors fans didn’t know how good Kawhi was until he got there.)

With that in mind, what does that mean for the:

Miami Heat

Boston Celtics

Toronto Raptors

Chicago Bulls

Utah Jazz

Minnesota Timberwolves

None of those teams have a Tier-1 superstar on their roster currently.

I’m also going to be very bold and suggest the Phoenix Suns (+259 to win it all), belong on the list above, despite finishing with the best record during the regular season.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker are two very good players, but are they Tier-1 Superstars like Giannis, Steph, Kawhi, KD, LBJ, and the other names on the list above?

Nope, they are not.

I’m all in on Joel Embiid (76ers +1400) or Kevin Durant (Nets +800) but if you disagree – is where you can set me straight.

Historical Odds For Championship Teams

It’s that time of the newsletter when we lean on our friend Data_Josh to give us some wisdom generated by his mad excel skills.

Our graph above shows us that 10 of the last 48 champions (21%) had odds of +500 or higher before the first round of the playoffs started.

That tells us that 1 in 5 NBA Championships is won by a team considered a pretty big longshot.

The graph also points out to us that 62.5% of NBA Champions start the playoffs with odds of +299 or shorter.

There is only one team starting the playoffs this year with odds shorter than +299 and that is the Phoenix Suns. Now is the time where I start to second guess my prediction above telling you to stay away from Phoenix.

You can either believe the historical data provided by Data_Josh or my gut instincts, which are right nearly 50% of the time.

Choose wisely.

Historical Odds – Last 5 Champions

Our graph above quickly tells us the odds for the last 5 championship teams. Earlier we stated that since 1973, 1 in 5 champions started the playoffs at +500 or above.

We can see that in two of the last three seasons the Larry O’Brien trophy winners were well above +500 to start the playoffs.

Does that mean we are starting to see a new trend of longshots regularly defying the odds?

Or are we due for a market correction, which once again points us back to those same Phoenix Suns?

We are about to find out, starting this Saturday.

Big Swats and Home Run Trots

What would a @DarnleyMalcolm newsletter be without a little self-promoting?

A couple of weeks ago in our MLB edition (found here), Data_Josh dug through some amazing information published on FanGraphs.

What we found out was that companies who specialize in MLB player projections were all suggesting that Jose Ramirez was going to have a huge year.

When we compared those projections to his +2500 AL MVP odds, we suggested there might be some value on J-Ram.

Well, Ramirez is currently tearing the cover off the ball albeit only one week into the season. A .480 BA, with 3-Home Runs and 14 RBI put him on pace for just under 100 HRs and just over 450 RBI.

Obviously, I don’t think J-Ram will finish with 450 RBI, but at this point 300 seems in play, right?

The odds on him to win AL MVP are dropping. With BetMGM you can still find Ramriez at +2500. However, at PointsBet he has already shortened to +1500.

Did I mention shopping around for your Best Odds is important?

If you are looking for current NBA betting predictions. You can find today’s picks here.

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