The second round of the NBA playoffs is a broken ATM machine with a never-ending shower of $100 bills spitting out. It would seem all basketball bettors need to do is bet the favorite and the Over.
Heading into Thursday’s action, favorites are 12-5-1 ATS (70.5 percent) and the Over is 13-5 (72 percent) in the conference semifinals, including the Boston Celtics covering the -4 and topping the total with a 123-101 win over the Washington Wizards Wednesday. For the postseason, NBA favorites are 34-27-1 against the spread (55 percent) while the Over is 35-25-1 (58 percent).
The favorite and Over combo is a poisonous pill oddsmakers struggle swallowing and, fortunately for NBA bettors, they’re doing a lot of that in this year’s NBA Playoffs.
"The favorite and the Over is always a deadly two-team parlay combination for books,” a lines manager with GTBets.eu tells Covers.com, “but this month has been absolutely horrific. So far in the month we are holding negative 12 percent on NBA parlays, whereas the same dates last year yielded a positive hold of 22 percent.”
The high cover rate for favorites can be explained by the lack of any upsets in the first round and the ass kicking Golden State and Cleveland did against their opposition in the second round. Throw in the fact the home team is 4-0 ATS and SU in the Boston-Washington series and you’ve got all the makings of a favorite-heavy tally.
The Over record is a different matter altogether. The Under was the story of the 2016 NBA Playoffs, cashing in 52 of 86 games – good for a 60 percent win rate. This year, the Over is covering at a 58 percent clip. Game 5 of Spurs-Rockets would have gone Under if not for overtime but that was only the third overtime game in these playoffs
“It feels fitting for this sports calendar year after the NFL season saw the public cash Patriots and Browns' opponent parlays seemingly every week,” Scott Cooley of Bookmaker.eu says of this fave/Over trend. “The good thing is that the wiseguys haven't done that well during this particular NBA Playoffs, and that somewhat goes hand-in-hand with the squares doing well. But certainly, our profits haven't been as good during this second round.”
Sizing up the second round scoring, there’s a noticeable uptick in 3-point attempts per game and 3-pointers made this postseason compared to last spring. Teams are shooting 35.7 percent on 56.4 attempts per game from beyond the arc in the playoffs. Teams shot 35.4 percent on 51.5 attempts last year and 34.4 percent on 51.1 attempts per game the year before.
The pace of games is also up compared to 2016. According to Pace Factor (Hollinger stat on ESPN), teams are averaging 96.9 possessions per game up from last year’s mark at 95.3.
The total for Thursday’s Game 6 between the Spurs and Rockets is set at 214. Oddsmakers have the visiting Spurs getting seven points. San Antonio all-star Kawhi Leonard, who sat out the overtime in Game 5 with a bad ankle, is listed as questionable for Game 6.