NBA Playoff Betting Tip: First Round Trends to Know
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard
- The first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday.
- Using the Bet Labs database, we share bettings trends that every gambler should know for the opening round.
The first round of the NBA Playoffs begins on Saturday. Using the Bet Labs database, I have identified historical NBA playoff trend based on seedings in the first round.
Below you can find out which seeds tend to be undervalued against their first round opponents.
1-seed vs. 8-seed
Since the 2005, 1-seeds are 109-39 (73.6%) straight up (SU) in the first round of the playoffs. Only five 8-seeds have upset the top seed in a series, but it has happened three times since 2007 (2007 Warriors over Mavericks, 2011 Grizzlies over Spurs and 2012 76ers over Bulls).
But just because 1-seeds usually win doesn’t mean they cover consistently. The top teams in each conference have combined to go 76-69-3 (52.4%) against the spread (ATS) in the opening round.
The top seeds have had more success when facing an opponent that is .500 or worse, going 37-25-2 (59.7%) ATS. The Pistons needed a win in Game 82 of the season to clinch a playoff spot, and finished at an even 41-41. The top-overall seeded Bucks host the Pistons on Sunday (7 p.m. ET, TNT).
2-seed vs. 7-seed
Two-seeds are 107-37 (74.3%) SU vs. 7-seeds in the first Round. The last 7-seed to win a series was the Spurs in 2010, who upset the Mavs. San Antonio wasn’t much of an underdog, listed at +130, the shortest price for a 7-seed since 2008 according to SportsOddsHistory.com.
Unlike 1-seeds, 2-seeds tend to cover in the opening round, going 86-52-6 (62.3%) ATS. One-seeds are often overvalued and have trouble covering inflated lines while 2-seeds go overlooked by the betting public.
Two-seeds cash tickets in nearly every situation:
- As underdogs: 12-6-2 (66.6%) ATS
- On the road: 38-22-4 (63.3%) ATS
- Against the public (less than 50% of bets): 21-13-2 (61.8%) ATS
The Raptors and Nuggets are the 2-seeds in their respective conferences, and each team will be in action on Saturday.
3-seed vs. 6-seed
Three-seeds, like 1s and 2s, have home court advantage in the first round, but have won less than 60% of their games (94-67 SU) since 2005. The talent gap isn’t as pronounced between 3-seeds and 6-seeds, which has led to more 3-seeds listed as underdogs. When getting points, 3-seeds have gone 17-29 (37.0%) SU.
Three-seeds are 75-82-4 (47.8%) ATS in the first series of the playoffs and have just four profitable postseasons in the past 14 years. Where 3-seeds have really struggled is against division opponents. In these matchups, the 3-seeds are 15-25-2 (37.5%) ATS.
Division opponents likely have more success against 3-seeds because of the increased familiarity. This year, both conferences feature divisional 3-6 matchups, as the 76ers will host the Nets, and the Blazers will host Oklahoma City.
4-seed vs. 5-seed
Seeding doesn’t matter much in this matchup, as 5-seeds are 86-79 SU since 2005. Oddsmakers do a good job identifying the team that should win, though. Favorites in 4-5 games have gone 112-53 (67.9%) SU.
Four-seeds have struggled to cover the spread in the playoffs since 2005, going 73-88-4 (45.3%) ATS in the opening round. It has been even worse since 2010, as 4-seeds are just 34-57-4 (37.4%) ATS.