NBA Finals Betting

The NBA Finals are becoming quite the spectacle these days especially when it comes to online betting on NBA Finals. Not only is there a massive increase in viewership, but betting action on the event has grown massively since the league saw a decline in ratings shortly after Michael Jordan retired in 2003.

ABC and ESPN signed a deal to broadcast NBA programming around that time. They extended the contract and renegotiated it several times since the original deal. On October 6, 2014, the NBA announced a nine-year $24-billion-dollar extension with ESPN, ABC, and Turner Sports (TNT). The new deal will extend from the 2016-17 season until the conclusions of the 2024-25 season. Game 7 of the 2015-16 NBA Finals saw the highest ratings in 18 years. The telecast saw a 44.5 million viewers as the Cleveland Cavaliers finished up their win against the Golden State Warriors. The Finals, on the whole, averaged about 20.1 million viewers per game, making it the most-watched NBA Finals since 1998.

Betting interest in the NBA is at an all-time high. We encourage readers to read our primer on NBA betting and explore more advanced topics. In this article, we will be focusing betting on the NBA Finals and to a lesser extent, playoff basketball, in general. All the strategies listed in this article and others can be used for online betting on NBA Finals as well as regular season games.

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Does Public Affect NBA Championship Betting?

We’ve already discussed how fading the public blindly is a -EV strategy, but it’s vital to realize when the public is having an effect on the odds. The oddsmakers don’t trust the public’s opinion when it comes to handicapping sports and in most cases, won’t move the odds if they know the sharps have a strong opinion on the opposite side.

Bettors should look for an instance of reverse line movement, which is more common regarding the playoffs or finals because of the increased public betting action. Savvy bettors should also look for line shades at recreational sportsbooks.

The public is more partial to wagering on favorites and overs, rather than underdogs and unders, but depending on the public perception of a team, they may end up doing the opposite. Recreational bookies, such as Bovada, should be targets in these spots, particularly if the public doesn’t have much interest betting the underdog on that particular evening.

NBA Basketball Conference Dominance

nba basketballIn today’s NBA, you will often find fans and bettors alike with polarizing views on each conference. In the past few years, the Western Conference has been dominant regarding regular season record. Top to bottom, they are the stronger conference, (few could argue against this based on record), but that doesn’t mean the Western Conference Champion automatically receives an advantage.

The logic used by many bettors is that the Western Conference Champion had a “harder path” to reach the Finals. They will throw around other euphemisms, such as saying they are “battle tested.”

NBA Conference Myths

Ultimately, the difficulty of the conference that a team comes out of has no bearing on their chance to prevail in the Finals. Nothing else matters except how these two teams battle it out on the court and how they match up with each other personnel and coaching wise.

Don’t fall into “the West was better than the East” or vice versa, so their champion has a much better shot at winning the title. Too many bettors make this mistake every year, and it blinds them to spots where they could find some excellent contrarian +EV spots.

NBA Players Fatigue And Injury

NBA players fatigue and injury are some of the factors to consider when looking at each game and the series as a whole. Did any of the teams have to play a long series (6-7 games) before the NBA Finals? Are any of their key players suffering from a nagging injury?

Fatigue matters. ESPN The Magazine authored a piece in their February 2016 issue that covered NBA analytics, along with fatigue and injury factors. The verdict? Well, the NBA schedule is a brutal one and by the time the Finals roll around, their bodies are beaten to crap. This undoubtedly is a factor in the Finals. The Warriors were the favorites to beat Cleveland in the 2015-16 NBA Finals, but they blew a 3-1 lead to lose to Cleveland in seven games.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say fatigue and injury was a major factor in their demise. Warriors guard Stephen Curry was battling knee and ankle issues throughout the playoffs, and the Warriors had to rally from 3-1 down in the Western Conference Finals to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Coaching Changes And Philosophy In NBA

One would think that coaches and teams would stick with their schemes and starting lineups in the Finals and not tweak with something they have been doing for more than 82 games. After all, it got them there, so why tweak it?

It might seem to go against conventional to shake things up, but coaches that are superior tacticians have made lineup changes with great success. The Cavaliers got the best of the Warriors in the 2015-16 NBA Finals, but Golden State bested Cleveland in the Finals the previous year. In that series, Cleveland lead 2-1 after three games. Coach Steve Kerr stated there would be no lineup changes for Game 4, but he came out a different starting lineup. Instead of starting Andrew Bogut, he moved Draymond Green to center and Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup while heavily limiting Bogut’s minutes.

The move paid off, in a huge way. Golden State won the next three games in convincing fashion and took down their first NBA Championship since 1975.

NBA Finals Betting – Down 0-2, Game 3 Scenario

One of the best spots regarding NBA playoff betting is when you have a team that is down two games to none going into Game 3. Game 3, historically, is the best shot for a team that hasn’t won a game to notch their first win or at least offer up a competitive matchup. It’s also the first game of the series at home for the team that is the lower seed.

The oddsmakers have caught onto this fact, but the betting public hasn’t. We’re not advocating betting every underdog in every Game 3 where this applies, but it is something that should be strongly considered, particularly if you see the signs of sharp action on the side you’re looking to wager.