Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo
- A majority of spread tickets are on the Bucks, but the Raptors have moved from +6.5 to +6 in Game 1 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
- Using Bet Labs, we show that betting in the NBA Playoffs can be as easy as wagering on the favorite with the better record.
The betting market seems torn on Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT). A majority of spread tickets are on the Bucks at home but the line has moved from Raptors +6.5 to +6.
If you are unsure which side to wager, my advice is simple: Don’t overthink it.
Milwaukee finished with the NBA’s best record, and though the line has moved in the Raptors direction, the Bucks are still favored by the oddsmakers to win.
Historically, this has been a profitable spot. Since 2005, favorites with a superior record to their opponent have gone 458-396-14 (53.6%) against the spread (ATS) in the playoffs per Bet Labs. If the team is a sizable favorite (-6 or higher), like the Bucks, it has been even more profitable to wager on them.
Milwaukee not only has history on its side, but a number of advantages in this game (and series). For starters,Game 1 will take place in Fiserv Forum, where the Bucks went 33-8 straight up during the regular season and have gone 4-1 in the playoffs. Milwaukee also has the likely league MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s been nearly unguardable this postseason, averaging 27.4 points on 52.6% shooting to go along with 11.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
On top of that, Milwaukee is deeper than Toronto. According to NBA.com, the Bucks bench has played 39.8% of the team’s playoff minutes, averaging 37.4 points on 48.1% shooting while the Raptors’ backups have played less than 30% of playoff minutes and have averaged 21.6 points per game on 38.9% shooting.
Finally, fatigue could be an issue. Toronto’s last series went seven games and only seven players logged minutes in the winner-take-all showdown. Milwaukee, on the other hand, has had a week to prepare for Game 1 after beating Boston in five games. Since 2005, home teams in the playoffs with at least four days between games have gone 103-60 (68.4%) ATS.
All signs point to the Bucks, so don’t overthink it. Back Giannis & Co. in Game 1.