American Betting Experts’ Prop Bets expert Kevin Davis shares his thoughts on the NBA PlayOffs, including what bets to take now and what to look out for as the games start.
Ten months after the regular season started, the playoffs are finally here. For each playoff series, there are props on which team will win. What makes the NBA playoffs in my opinion the best in all of sports is that each series is a best-of-seven series. While the downside to this is that the playoffs last for too long, the upside is that the best team wins each round. There are occasions where seventh and eight seeded teams beat first and second seeded teams, but overall, the higher ranked teams will end up winning the series. This is good for Basketball as the best team usually advances to next round.
What teams are more profitable to bet on underdogs or favorites?
For single game moneyline wagers this year (particularly during the bubble), underdogs have been profitable while favorites have been unprofitable. To find out whether underdogs or favorites are more profitable for playoffs series winner props, I did an analysis of playoffs series winner props since 2010.
To my surprise since 2010, if you had bet on every underdog to win their postseason series, you would have lost 42.9 units or had a return of investment (ROI) of -28.6%. This means that if you blindly bet $100 on an underdog to win their postseason series, you should expect to lose $28.60 average. If you had bet on every favorite to win their postseason season, you would have only lost 1.7 units or a ROI of -1.1%. A blind $100 bet on a favorite would have an expected loss only $1.10. While both betting options are unprofitable in the long run, sportsbooks are not in business to put money in your pocket. However, betting on favorites to win their postseason series is close to a breakeven proposition, while the evidence is overwhelming against betting on underdogs.
After I finished my research, I concluded that I should only bet on favorites to win their postseason series. The next step I needed to take was to weigh the odds for all legal sportsbooks. What I found is that the average hold on these wagers for a legal sportsbook is between six to seven percent. This is higher than the average hold of 4.5% for single-game wagers in New Jersey. The hold is how much the sportsbook should expect to make from equal risk on both sides of a bet. As a bettor you want a low hold because you want to keep your money in your pocket. When I added up all the odds for every legal sportsbook on playoff series proposition, I was able to decrease the hold to only one to two percent on each wager. With a combination of only betting on favorites and finding the best price, I believe that I can make money picking the right favorites to win their postseason series.
Picking the Right Favorites
What makes this year’s postseason different than any other, is that there is no homecourt advantage. All games will be played at a neutral site in Orlando. Additionally, many teams are much different after not playing any games between March and July. This could add a level of variance that makes betting favorites not as profitable for this year’s postseason. That is why I am only going to focus on favorites that pay -500 or better, as well as only on favorites that I specifically like.
Post Season Series Favorites I Like
Boston Celtics (-320) vs Philadelphia 76ers (FanDuel)
The Philadelphia 76ers are a team in disarray and that is why I am betting that the Celtics will beat them. Before the regular season was postponed in March this would have been a bad bet to make, but since they have returned to play, they have not been doing too well. In their first seven games in the bubble, they went 3-4 and I do not think it is going to get better. Their star point guard Ben Simmons is out for the year after leaving the bubble with an injury, and center Joel Embiid might miss time as well with a wrist injury.
Additionally, the 76ers during the pre-bubble regular season had a winning record at home but a losing record on the road. With no home court advantage against a talented Celtics team in the bubble, I do not see how they can win four out of seven games against the Celtics that is why I am backing the Celtics at -320 odds to win their series against the 76ers.
Los Angeles Clippers (-420) vs. Dallas Mavericks (FanDuel)
There is a recent trend in the NBA called “load management”. The way load management works during the regular season is that teams either rest their best players on random days and/or play them for fewer minutes. The NBA regular season is somewhat meaningless as most teams make the playoffs. You can have a poor regular season but win the championship, or a great regular season and get swept in the first round.
The Clippers out of all teams practice load management the most in the way that they used their best two players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. During the postseason, the Clippers are going to lift the minutes restrictions on Leonard and George, and it is going to be open season on their opponents. While the Mavericks are good team that I made a +4500 NBA championship future wager on, I think betting on the Clippers at -420 odds to win their series against the Mavericks is a great bet.
Houston Rockets (-150) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (FoxBet)
The most competitive first round playoff series is going to be between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. While I really like the Chris Paul led Thunder, I think that the Houston Rockets should be much bigger favorites against them than their -150 odds suggest. While I recently made a +8500 NBA championship future wager on the Thunder, I think that the Rockets are an extremely dangerous team in the NBA bubble. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are threats to get a triple-double whenever they are on the floor, and they have been beaten the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers in the bubble. I think betting on the Rockets at -150 to win their series against the Thunder is a bargain.
NBA Playoffs Series Bet Slip
$50 Boston Celtics Pays $65.63
$50 Dallas Mavericks Pays $61.90
$50 Houston Rockets Pays $83.33