NBA Finals Trends: The Warriors Are Immune to the Zigzag Theory


Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Steve Kerr

The Action Network analysts John Ewing and Evan Abrams comb the Bet Labs database each day to bring you profitable trends for the slate. Here are notable historical trends for Cavs-Warriors, Episode 4.

Golden State is -995 to win Game 1, which is a 90.9% implied probability of winning. It looks like LeBron James will drop the first game of the series. If it plays out that way, it would be the 18th time in his playoff career. In the previous 17 series, he came back to win in 10 of them, including twice this postseason (Pacers and Celtics).

The Warriors are massive -1200 favorites to win the NBA Finals. The 2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers (-750) are the next biggest Finals favorites according to SportsOddsHistory. LeBron is a +755 underdog to win a fourth ring. It is hard to believe, but James has been a bigger series underdog. In the 2006 playoffs against the Detroit Pistons, his Cavaliers were +1200 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Cleveland lost in seven games.

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors at Oracle Arena have gone 25-15-3 to the under in the playoffs — the most-profitable team to the under in that span. During that same span (2014-15 season), the Cavaliers have gone 22-14-1 to the over in the playoffs at home — the most-profitable team to the over in that span.

Here is what the Cavs are up against playing a continuously rested Warriors team. Over the past two seasons, when the Warriors have been on at least three days’ rest — which they are in every game in the NBA Finals but Game 4 — they’ve gone 45-8 straight-up, including 16-2 SU in the playoffs. They haven’t had the same success against the spread, however, going 23-28-2 ATS on at least three days’ rest, including a putrid 9-17-1 ATS on three days’ rest as a double-digit favorite.

Under Kerr, the Warriors have had no issue covering the spread in the playoffs after covering in their previous game, really putting the zigzag theory to bed for the champs. Golden State has gone 8-4 ATS after covering their previous game in the NBA Finals vs. the Cavaliers and 26-19 ATS overall in the playoffs after a cover. Since Kerr took over as coach, only the Pacers have been more profitable in the playoffs in this situation. All that said, the Warriors have gone just 1-5 ATS in their past six games in this spot.

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