As the Spurs and Nets get set to battle for the NBA Championship, I thought this would be a great time to recap the NBA action so far this season. This playoff season has been a pretty good one for books but there have been a few strange trends that I will share with you. With no NBA games for a few days I had time to crunch some of the numbers. Hopefully you can benefit a little from what you read here.
Let us start with some of the trends you can add up yourself. I’ll save you a little work here. There have been 82 games played in the playoffs so far. Of those games:
Home teams are 51-31 straight up (not counting the spread)
Home teams are 41-38-3 ATS (against the spread)
Home dogs are 7-8-2 ATS
Favorites are 42-37-3
Home teams and favorites are 3-0 ATS in Game 7s
The Over is 48-33-1
Now for a trend that is a little more difficult to analyze yourself, the betting patterns. In 26 of the games we had what we would consider to be a moderate or large decision (where the action is not balanced between the two teams and we risk big losses, but also stand to win big) with the pointspread. The House came out ahead with an unremarkable 13-12-1 record ATS, but did win 6 of the 8 decisions we considered large. What was interesting was that of the 26 teams bettors played heavily, 22 were the road team and 14 were a road favorite. The last fact is really amazing when you consider there were only 17 road favorites in the whole playoffs so far. It was an even split on those games but they did produce the two largest wins of the playoffs for the book with Minnesota pounding the Lakers in Game #2 of their opening round series and the Pistons beating the 76ers in Game #2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Road favorite betting also produced the largest win for the bettors when the Spurs beat the Nowitzki-less Mavericks in Game #4 of the Western Conference Finals. This a pretty common trend with retail bettors, as you may recall from a previous column I did on home dogs in football. This doesn’t mean the bettors are right or wrong, but those of you that like to bet the opposite sides may want to take note if the Spurs are a favorite in the games played in New Jersey.
Another common betting trend is playing the Over and bettors have certainly done so in these playoffs. Even more importantly, they have definitely done well by doing so. The decisions on the totals are seldom in the same size range as the large pointspread decisions, but there have been several in the moderate range with players coming out ahead on most of them. In fact, we are in the hole on totals for the playoffs. This is different from each of the last two seasons where totals were the best line type for books. Books have taken note and have been adjusting totals up, resulting in the Under cashing in 4 of the last 5 games.
Since I have touched on the subject, here is a quick summary of the financial results so far. Pointspreads have been good for the House. Several key games have gone the House’s way but more importantly, from our perspective, is that only a handful of games have landed on the number. It seemed like every other game was landing on the spread each of the last two seasons and as a result we barely made money in 2001 and lost a little last year. When games are not landing on or near the closing spreads, the house really benefits, as bought-points do not come into play and teasers cash a little less. Moneylines have been very, very good for us and this is again opposite of the last two years where bettors piled up big money on the Lakers moneyline every night and rode them all the way to the bank. First half and half time betting have been pretty unremarkable, in terms of results, with the book just barely earning the vig on both. Parlays have been really good and teasers have been great with lots of lop-sided wins. Overall handle is up over double from last season and nearly 6 times what we booked in 2001. Part of the reason for the increase may be our recent move to a true dime line as we have had a real rush of baseball bettors in the last two months.
I will save the NHL recap for the next column and I will also be doing a little research on baseball’s Interleague play, which starts this week. Enjoy the finals. I hope it is a little closer than the last few have been.
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