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NBA Playoffs Odds, Predictions: Betting Angle for Mavericks vs. Warriors Game 5

NBA Playoffs Odds, Predictions: Betting Angle for Mavericks vs. Warriors Game 5 article feature image
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Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Poole (3), Klay Thompson (11) and Draymond Green (23) of the Golden State Warriors.

One betting angle, one tactical question and one bet for Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Warriors and Mavericks.


The Angle: Warriors Rarely Sweep, Or Let a Series Linger

In 26 playoff series under Steve Kerr, the Warriors have swept a team exactly six times. They have been up 3-0 in 10 of those 26 series and never once has it gone to a Game 6. Golden State is 6-4 in Game 4’s up 3-0 and 4-0 up 3-1 after leading 3-0.

It’s not that the Warriors didn’t try in Game 4. Had the early shots gone down or Dallas missed theirs, the Warriors would have likely stuck with it.

But if you read the comments from Game 3, you get a sense for how the Warriors managed this series. Here’s an excerpt from Draymond Green’s postgame availability after Game 3.

Question: You played almost 40 minutes, Steph played 40, Klay close to 40. Was this the circled game where you have to win this one?

Green: “It’s just a feeling you have in these series. Coming off a win like last game, you know if you can come in and play good basketball, you can essentially put a team away tonight. Now, this team isn’t going to quit. They are led by a Hall-of-Fame coach, Hall-of-Fame player, but he’s in the Hall of Fame, and a future Hall-of-Fame player in Luka Doncic, so they won’t quit.

But you can instill a lot of doubt with coming out and winning this game and we knew that. We came out with a certain intensely level and focus level that it would take to come on the road and still win. We did that tonight and now the mindset changes to coming out and taking care of our business this next game. But we kind of wanted to go all in on this one for sure because we felt like it was a game that if we come out and play our game, we should win.”

In 2015 vs. the Rockets, the Warriors had a similar approach. They were in tough games in the first two games in Oakland, then came out and just walloped the Rockets in Game 3. Houston was expecting a tough, long series, and wasn’t prepared for what the Warriors brought in that game.

But bringing that twice, vs. a team at home facing elimination, is difficult.

I’m not saying the Warriors eased off the throttle. I’m saying they didn’t throttle down like they did in Game 4.

A light night of work allows them time to respond in Game 5.

History says they will.

The Question: Have the Mavericks Figured Out the Warriors’ Defense?

Golden State takes some getting used to on both ends of the floor. The Warriors’ offense is more driven by off-ball screens and movement, less by pick and roll. Their defense is switch-heavy and more complex.

On top of that, the Warriors have constantly mixed up their coverages on Luka Doncic. They’ve run switch, drop, ice, blitz, hedge, 2-3 and box-and-1 against him among some hybrids. If you don’t know what those are, that’s fine — the important part is they are throwing the kitchen sink at Doncic.

But the Mavericks have slowly gotten better. Expected field goal percentage factors who the shooter is, their shot location and the level of contest from the defense.

eFG% Expected eFG% Differential
Game 1 42.4 53.1 -10.6
Game 2 60.9 55.4 5.5
Game 3 48.7 56.5 -7.8
Game 4 62.2 58.5 3.7

The Mavericks have improved their expected eFG% with every game in this series. They’ve shot better than that expected mark twice and the improvement from Game 1 to Game 4 being over 5.4 percentage points is significant.

Some of this can be attributed to the Mavericks being at home, and in Game 4, the Warriors’ lackluster effort noted above.

But Dallas has also found some counters. The Mavericks are running tons of screens with their wings, Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith, to apply pressure on the perimeter and punish the Warriors for doubling Doncic.

But if the Warriors throw another wrinkle, can the Mavericks adjust with so little room for error?

The Bet to Make in Game 5 

The SGP’s always have brutal holds, which is why the books offer them, but I don’t want to lay the -260 for the alternate line. I don’t want to lay the 7.5 and I don’t want to just play the third quarter. So here we are.

When the Warriors win the third quarter of a Game 5 at home under Steve Kerr, they are 9-0, undefeated. The Warriors have won 9-of-12 third quarters in home Game 5’s. It’s always been their go-to and the strategy of emphasizing it can be traced back to Phil Jackson, who always had dynamite thirds with the Bulls and Lakers.

Now, for the line. Teams at home up 3-1 in Game 5 are 33-36-3 ATS (47.1%) since 2003. Steve Kerr teams in that exact spot are just 2-7 ATS.

It’s a spot you can easily identify as market inflation, especially considering that home teams’ straight-up record is 58-13 (81.7%).

So the spread is not the bet to play. However, four-point teasers are good for 51-19 ATS (73%) on that leg, home teams up 3-1 in Game 5. Instead of taking a different game with a non-correlated outcome, we take the Warriors to win the third quarter and when they win the third quarter they win the game and when they win the game they cover a number that historically teams have covered 73% of the time.

At 73% of the time for the cover -2.5 and -160 on the moneyline for the third, I should get +122. I’m paying 15 cents for the same-game, but given that the two plays are correlated, I like my EV enough to pay the 15 cents.

This avoids having to lay the 7.5, avoids having to pay the -300 on the moneyline and puts two high-probability outcomes that are correlated together for a slightly-better-than-even payout.

The Bet: Warriors -2.5 (alternate line) + Warriors 3Q Moneyline Parlay (+107)

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