NBA Finals Referees: Betting Trends for All 12 Warriors-Raptors Officials

NBA Finals Referees: Betting Trends for All 12 Warriors-Raptors Officials article feature image
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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Referee Scott Foster (48)

  • Twelve referees have been chosen to officiate the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.
  • Using Bet Labs, we analyze against-the-spread and over/under trends for games officiated by these referees.

The NBA announced the 12 referees who will officiate the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors — Game 1 is Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).

Finals officials were selected by the NBA Referee Operations management team based on their performance throughout the first three rounds of the 2019 playoffs. All 12 referees will work at least one game during the series.

The 12 referees assigned to the NBA Finals are:

  • Tony Brothers (eighth finals)
  • Mike Callahan (16th)
  • James Capers (eighth)
  • Marc Davis (eighth)
  • Kane Fitzgerald (first)
  • Scott Foster (12th)
  • John Goble (third)
  • David Guthrie (second)
  • Eric Lewis (first)
  • Ed Malloy (seventh)
  • Jason Phillips (sixth)
  • Zach Zarba (sixth)

One factor many gamblers might not consider before placing a wager is the referees. Do these officials have tendencies that bettors can exploit?

Before Game 1 tips, let’s get to know the 12 NBA Finals referees.

Home Teams, Favorites and Overs

Which officials have a soft spot for home teams, favorites and overs? If you look at all the data from Bet Labs since 2005, which includes regular season and playoffs games, you’ll see that the referees’ records for home teams and favorites against the spread (ATS) as well as their over record are close to 50.0%.

This makes sense as referees are expected to be impartial. With a large sample of games, the data suggests there are no trends to follow with these officials.

Not So Fast

In general, referees do not show bias and there are not profitable edges when we look at the results for home teams, favorites and overs. But as fans we know certain refs dislike our favorite team.

Golden State, for example, has a history with official Scott Foster. Earlier this season he ejected center DeMarcus Cousins from the bench in a game he wasn’t even playing.

The Warriors might not be happy to see Foster officiate the finals, but bettors shouldn’t be worried. When Foster is on the floor, the Dubs have gone 45-31-2 (59.2%) ATS, including 13-8 ATS in the postseason.

In fact, 10 of the 12 refs assigned to the NBA Finals have an overall winning ATS record when overseeing a Warriors game. The two zebras who don’t are Mike Callahan and David Guthrie, though this is nothing to sweat as Golden State has combined to go 17-13-1 ATS in the playoffs with these two officials.

Raptors bettors might be more concerned looking at the past data for these officials. James Capers (8-1 ATS) and Marc Davis (6-4 ATS) are the only two referees with a winning ATS record for Toronto in the playoffs.

However, this isn’t evidence of prejudice against the Raptors. Since 2005, Toronto has been eliminated in the first round four times and swept in three series. The Raptors have not enjoyed much postseason success, which is reflected in their ATS playoff record.

Referee trends are interesting. Of course, it would be unwise to place a wager based solely on the past results of the referees officiating the game. This is just one more piece of information to make you a more informed gambler.