NBA Playoffs: Ten Betting Trends

nba Apr 18, 2022

Now that the 2022 NBA playoffs are underway, it's a great time to check out some betting trends.  

Pay special attention to circumstances where teams are ahead or behind in the series and then consider how these teams usually fare, historically speaking, the rest of the way.

Here are ten strong betting trends for you to consider:

BETTING TREND #1:  Bet on Big Home Favourites:

Big home favourites almost always win -- Since the start of the 2014 playoffs, NBA first-round home favourites of 8.5 points or more are 39-1 SU and 22-18 ATS. The only team to lose during that span was Oklahoma City in Game 2 of the 2016 first round, to Dallas.

Bigger road favourites are also a solid bet -- Only four of the last 27 road favorites of 4.5 points or more have lost outright, going 23-4 SU and 18-8-1 ATS.

BETTING TREND #2:  Avoid Small Home Favourites:

First-round home favourites of 4 points or less have proven to be a bad investment lately.  Over the last five playoff seasons, they are just 22-21 SU and 16-26-1 ATS. However, they were 6-1 SU and 5-1-1 ATS, so perhaps this trend is turning, as all home favourites fared well last season with a record of 30-5 SU and 22-12-1 ATS.

BETTING TREND #3:  Bet with Momentum

Home teams are a better wager when coming off a win in a series – Home teams coming off a win in the prior game of a series are 67-36 SU and 50-52-1 ATS. Those coming off a loss are 65-53 SU and 49-64-5 ATS. Naturally, the latter are usually the lower-seeded team in a series, but this is a good indication of how momentum aids a team.

Also note: Blowout losses carry over – There is a bit of misconception when it comes to teams “bouncing back” from rough first-round losses. In fact, teams that lost their previous game by 10 points or more are just 40-67 SU & 44-62-1 ATS in the next contest.

BETTING TREND #4: Bet on Teams that Lost Close Games Previously

Finally, heartbreaking (close) losses have a galvanizing effect – Teams that lose close games, or those decided by 3 points or less, in the first round of the NBA playoffs have bounced back with a 28-10 SU and 24-12-2 ATS mark in the next game. In the underdog role, these teams are on an amazing 10-4 SU and 11-3 ATS surge!

BETTING TREND #5:  Bet Against Home Teams that Lost the Opening Game

Opening game home losers are not a good game 2 bet – Contrary to popular “ying-and-yang” bettors’ beliefs, home teams that lost in Game 1 of a first-round series are not a good bet in Game 2 either, as they are just 7-5 SU and 3-8-1 ATS since ’13.

BETTING TREND #6: Game 3 Can Be Tricky

The Best Game 3 home teams are those that split their first two games – Game 3 home teams that split their first two games on the road are 10-5 SU and 8-6-1 ATS since 2013, while those that were either up 2-0 or down 2-0 are collectively just 14- 29 SU and 15-17-1 ATS in that same span.

-- Game 4s most often go to the team looking to even the series – An interesting trend finds that teams that are down 2-1 in a first-round series are an 20-9 SU and 18-10-1 ATS run in Game 4s.

-- Game 5s lean to a road team wager – Game 5s tend to be tight, as home teams, while 26-11 SU, are just 16-20-1 ATS over the last 6 playoff seasons. Those home teams attempting to close out a series in Game 5 are just 4-6-1 ATS in their L11.

-- Game 6s are road domination – Road teams in NBA first-round Game 6s are 17-11 SU and 20-8 ATS in the last six seasons. Defence is usually the key, as they are holding home teams to just 94.0 PPG, and have gone UNDER the total in 20 of those 28 contests. Road teams in this scenario looking to close out a series are 11-6 SU and ATS.

-- Game 7s are competitive – Every fan loves a big Game 7, and NBA fans should even more, as the first-round Game 7s are not automatic for hosts. In fact, home teams are 9-3 SU but 5-7 ATS in their last 12.

BETTING TREND #8: Elimination Games

Big road favorites closing out series are money -- Road favourites of 4.5 points or more in a series closeout scenario are 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS since the start of the 2013 postseason. However, Golden State did lose in this scenario last year, a Game 4 opportunity at San Antonio.

Also note that small favourites/underdogs closing out series are not a good bet – teams attempting to close out a series in a non-Game 7 scenario and playing as underdogs or favorites of 2 points or less are just 6-15 SU and 7-14 ATS in their last 21 tries.

BETTING TREND #9: Pay Attention to Second-Half of the Season when Comparing Teams

Using the records from the second half of the season has revealed quality underdogs. When the worse-seeded team had an equal or better record in the second half of the season, they won six of 13 series while going 38-38 outright.

Alternatively, when there was six games or better record in the second half for the better seed, those teams lost just one of 19 series while going 74-27 SU.

BETTING TREND #10: Check out

Okay, so this isn't a betting trend.  But all the NBA odds, totals, and props are listed here.  So, check it out!


Credit for many of these trends, including research goes to VSiN