The public loves betting favorites. Since 2005, at least 50% of spread tickets have been wagered on the favorite in 78.5% of all regular-season NBA games (16,532 games in our dataset). This behavior isn’t unique to basketball as we see the same pattern in the NFL, NHL, MLB and major college sports.
However, there is a shift in the postseason. Don’t get me wrong, casual bettors still like the chalk, but the favorite receives a majority of bets in fewer than 60.0% of games. Why do squares bet more underdogs in the playoffs? The likely answer is they expect games to be competitive. If that is the case, then it’s logical to take the points.
On Thursday, the Rockets host the Warriors in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals (9 p.m. ET). Houston opened as a 1-point favorite after evening the series, 2-2, on Tuesday. At the time of publication, 70% of spread tickets are backing the Dubs (see live NBA odds here).
We know which side the public is backing. Should bettors buy or sell the trendy Warriors in Game 5?