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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

NBA Playoffs Betting Guide: Starting a Series on a Roll

Updated: May 16, 2023

The Lakers sported an 18% chance of even making the playoffs at the start of the season, per FiveThirtyEight's Player-Based Forecasts, and a mere 0.5% chance of advancing to the Finals. In a nod to the L.A.'s improbable elimination of the Memphis Grizzlies and the defending champion Golden State Warriors, today, this same approach gives them a much improved 30% probability of besting the Nuggets in their best of seven series (Las Vegas odds imply an even more sporting 44% chance of a Finals appearance for the storied franchise, as indicated by a +125 series price).

While we do not have a high conviction view yet on which team is likely to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, we do expect the Lakers to cover the spread in the opening game of the Conference Finals. The angle indicated in the following graphic rationalizes our view.

The system described above has delivered a 33% long-term return on investment, which proved statistically significant at the 95% confidence level, and has submitted sub-50% covers rates in only two seasons during the examination period.

Further, this set of criteria is 33-14 ATS (70%) when the squad with the superior near-term record is the away team.

Also worth noting, the profitability of this angle climbs steadily as the playoffs progress. Its long-term track record in the Conference Finals is 7-2, for a 77% cover rate.

We theorize that this consistent historical success owes to an underappreciated momentum effect and an inclination for the betting public to overrate teams with recent playoff experience. This latter hypothesis, especially, can drive line movement and create value fading such teams.

Happy betting!!

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