Warriors keep winning, but not for bettors

The Warriors won game two against the Jazz handily last night. It was a classic Warriors win. Kevin Durant scored 25 points with 11 rebounds and seven assists. Stephen Curry had 23 points and seven assists. Draymond Green was maybe the player of the game with 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block. The Warriors won easily and they improved to 6-0 in the playoffs.

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However, as people who bet on them can tell you: it was another losing night. The spread on the game was -12.5 and the Warriors won by 11. In game one, the Warriors won by 12 when the spread was -13.5. They have easily won the first two games of the series, but not by enough to cover the spread. Against the spread, the Warriors are a mere 3-3 thus far. (Interestingly, the Jazz are 7-2 ATS.) The sportsbooks have had the Warriors perfectly pegged thus far and this is not a new trend.

During the Warriors first run to the title in 2014-15 this happened over and over. They finished that playoff run at 11-10, exactly even. If you bet the same amount on every single game of the Warriors run, you would’ve broken even. What fun is that? That team was relatively new to high level playoff basketball and it showed at times. The Grizzlies series especially sticks out and the brief window when the Cavaliers were up 2-1 despite being without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (aka when it was the LeBron James show) also qualify. That team was great, historically great, but they were not a very profitable NBA champion.

They did slightly better in 2015-16 when they finished 14-10 against the spread (despite losing the NBA Finals). That is aided by going 7-3 against Houston and Portland in the first two rounds of the playoffs. A 7-7 finish against the Thunder and Cavaliers is honestly not that bad considering they blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals.

A list of recent NBA champions and their against the spread records in the playoffs:

2011 Dallas Mavericks: 15-4-2
2012 Miami Heat: 15-8
2013 Miami Heat: 12-11
2014 San Antonio Spurs: 13-10
2015 Golden State Warriors: 11-10
2016 Cleveland Cavaliers: 13-8

The thing to learn from this is simple: betting on the NBA is really hard. The bookmakers are good at what they do and they always save their very best lines for the very best teams in the most important games. The best way to make hay is to be on a surprise team like the Mavericks in 2011, be on a team that just blows everyone else away like the 2012 Miami Heat or a combination of the two like the 2016 Cavs who blew through the East and then upset the Warriors in the Finals.

If you liked the Warriors before the playoffs in 2015 you could have bet the Warriors future at 3/1 which ended up being three times as profitable as betting on every game. If you liked Cavaliers in 2016 you could’ve bet them +505 which would’ve been even more profitable than betting on them to go 13-8. A good NBA futures bet is often more profitable than betting game to game.

The current futures as of May 5th, midway through the second round are:

NBA Championship Futures
Fri 5/5  7:00PM
Golden State Warriors -212
Cleveland Cavaliers +335
San Antonio Spurs +1800
Houston Rockets +2200
Boston Celtics +4000
Washington Wizards +10000
Toronto Raptors +20000
Utah Jazz +50000

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