After winning games 2 and 3 of their 2022-23 NBA Playoffs second round matchup versus MVP, Joe Embiid's 76ers, the Celtics dropped game 4 by the narrowest of margins. Rather similarly, the Nuggets bested the Suns in Denver's Ball Arena by double-digits in each of the first two games of their round two matchup, but Phoenix rallied back on their home floor to take games 3 and 4. Coming off these losses, history suggests Boston and Denver are likely to rebound at home and collect covers in game 5 action Tuesday. We are betting accordingly.
The angle described in the graphic has delivered a statistically significant (at the 95% confidence level) 25% long-term return on investment, suggesting the observed results are not likely due to chance.
To explain the strong profitability of this system, we hypothesize that teams up 3-1 might feel secure in the conviction that they will win one game before dropping three, and unconsciously take their foot of the gas in game 5. However, squads in more competitive series stay more dialed in mentally, in an effort to avert going down 2-3 (as history implies only a 16% probability of advancing from such a deficit), or worse, having their season come to an unceremonious end. Superlative focus by teams in this spot translates to effort sufficient to beat the number more times than not, we believe.
Worth mentioning, as the next chart illustrates, this angle's efficacy wanes as the post-season progresses (likely due to the higher level of competition in the later rounds), but it is still impressively profitable in the second round.