If you’ve had your ear to the betting ground on Twitter during the NBA Playoffs, you may have stumbled upon a very profitable trend that’s hitting at a remarkable 100 percent through the 2017 postseason.
Teams falling behind 0-2 in a series are 9-1 ATS versus the first-half pointspread in Game 3.
And, with Cleveland winning the first two games in Boston in the Eastern Conference finals, savvy bettors will be taking a long, hard look at Celtics +11 first-half line for Sunday’s Game 3 in Boston against the spread in the opening two frames at Cleveland Sunday.
One online book wass paying attention to the first half spread for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. Peter Childs, supervisor of risk management for Sportsbook.ag, admits that they would normally post Golden State as a 3.5-point first-half fave, with the full game spread at -6.5. However, with the prideful Spurs down 0-2 heading home and with that trend in mind, they were dealing San Antonio +2 for the first two quarters Saturday.
"Flat out simple to understand, teams that are down 0-2 come out and play with far more desperation than they do for other games," Childs says of the theory behind this trend. "Teams can't afford to go down 0-3, so in must-win spots like being down 0-2, they come out blazing. And for the team they're playing, they're up 2-0 in the series. They are fat and happy and don't come out with the same urgency as their counterparts."
This amazing first-half betting trend isn't just reserved to the 2017 postseason. Teams trailing the series 0-2 are an unblemished 19-0 against the first-half spread in Game 3 the last two years, posting a 10-0 record during the 2016 playoffs - including Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Cavs and Warriors. And going back even further, NBA teams in this scenario are 64-31-1 (67 percent) versus the first-half Game 3 spread after losing the opening two games of the series since 2007.
The obscurity of this particular trend, which was brought to light by industry analysts Matt Youmans of VSin and Todd Fuhrman, has flown under the radar of booksmakers - and bettors - for the most part. Books haven’t seen an uptick on action in those Game 3 scenarios, but that’s not to say the betting public isn’t getting wise to the trend. Or maybe they are now after reading this...
“We haven't seen an increase in action in that scenario, but we are seeing smart money on the Spurs for both game and first half spread,” says Scott Cooley of Bookmaker.eu, who admits the trend is “pretty cool”.
Thanks to the lack of parity in the NBA, basketball bettors were blessed with this opportunity six times in the opening round of the playoffs, and three more times in the conference semifinals. With the average juice on a first-half bet being -110, a $100 wager on each of those nine 0-2 Game 3 situations would have raked in more than $818 so far in the playoffs.
Here’s a closer look at these first-half betting results:
Game 3 Indiana vs. Cleveland: Indiana (+1) 75-49 first half
Game 3 Boston at Chicago: Boston (-1.5) 44-41 first half
Game 3 Atlanta vs. Washington: Washington (-2.5) 64-46 first half
Game 3 Portland vs. Golden State: Portland (+1) 67-54 first half
Game 3 Memphis vs. San Antonio: Memphis (+1) 50-46 first half
Game 3 Oklahoma City vs. Houston: Oklahoma City (-2.5) 65-58 first half
Game 3 Washington vs. Boston: Washington (-4.5) 63-40 first half
Game 3 Toronto vs. Cleveland: Toronto (-1) 52-49 first half
Game 3 Utah vs. Golden State: Utah (+1.5) 50-49 first half
Of those nine teams to cover the first-half spread, five went on to cover the full-game line as well.