How Bettors Can Profit From the Cavs’ 0-2 Deficit in the NBA Finals

How Bettors Can Profit From the Cavs’ 0-2 Deficit in the NBA Finals article feature image

pool photo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James guarded by Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant

The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in a familiar spot, down 0-2 to Golden State, following the Warriors’ 122-103 win in Sunday’s Game 2. This is the third consecutive year that the Cavs have lost the first two games of the NBA Finals in Oakland.


Game 3 is must-win if Cleveland is to have any chance of winning the NBA championship. But historically teams down 0-2 have not fared well in Game 3.

Since 2005, 90% of teams that started a playoff series with consecutive losses have played Game 3 at home. Those squads went 61-51 (54.5%) straight-up. The winning record looks promising until you realize that all other home teams in the postseason have won 65% of their games. Betting teams down 0-2 at home has been disappointing as well, going 56-53-3 (51.4%) ATS.

LeBron James and the Cavs have their backs against the wall, and we’d expect them to play Game 3 with more desperation. While that could happen, there has been no value wagering on teams in this situation. At least not on the full game spread.

Using Bet Labs, I found a winning betting system to exploit 0-2 starts in the NBA Playoffs that is 65% ATS with a match for Wednesday’s Game 3 (9 p.m. ET, ABC).

Teams that begin a series with two straight losses are likely at a disadvantage (talent/matchup) that makes it difficult to keep up with their opponents. However, these teams playing with urgency have shown an ability to be competitive in the first half. The team that is up in the series may start the game slowly knowing it can flip the switch in the second half to pull out the win.

Using Bet Labs, I found that teams in an 0-2 hole have gone 79-43-2 (65%) ATS in the first half of Game 3 since 2005. Home teams are 74-36-1 (67%) ATS and this system has been profitable whether the teams is favored (41-20 ATS) or an underdog (33-16-1 ATS).

This system doesn’t have the biggest sample size, but it does have a theory that explains why it works and consistent year-to-year results. At the time of publication, most spread tickets are on Golden State. The public is chasing the defending champs, so fade their action and take the team down 0-2 in the first half.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors (Wednesday 9 p.m. ET)

This system improves to 46-19 (71%) ATS if the team down 0-2 is playing an elite opponent (won 70% or more of games) such as the Warriors. The first-half spread for Game 3 is a pick’em.

More Coverage of Game 3

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