The regular season is over, the play-in is played, and the true NBA playoffs start on Saturday.
Before your bets, you can handicap every individual matchup and series, or you can take a step back. There are some overarching NBA playoff betting trends worth knowing before making your postseason hardcourt wagers:
Top Seeds Take The Title
You’re staring at the NBA playoff bracket. You know the first few seeded teams are probably going to win, but you just can’t force yourself to make a chalk pick. I get it, you want to pick a dark horse. Trust the numbers – don’t.
In the last 50 years, a No. 1 seed has won the NBA Finals 32 times. Only once in that span has a team outside the top three seeds won the title. It may not be as fun (or profitable) but don’t bet against the NBA’s title favorites:
First-Round Matchup Trends
If you want to wager on upsets, you’re probably best to stay away from the futures and stick to the NBA series prices. But the NBA betting trends show that first-round upsets aren’t as common as you’d think:
Bet On the 1s and 2s
In the last 25 years, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds have won their first-round matchups 94 percent of the time.
The eighth seeds had a good run for a stretch, though, with three No. 8 seeds upsetting No. 1 seeds between 2007 and 2012. However, since the 76ers beat the top-seeded Bulls in 2012, we haven’t had a 1 seed fall in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Fade The No. 4 Seeds
The best upset value naturally comes in the No. 4 vs 5 battle. The lower seeds actually have the edge in this matchup, with the No. 5s winning 53 percent of the recent meetings. However, don’t bet on the fifth seeds to go far, as only one No. 5 has made the NBA Finals in the last 50 years.
UNDERs Reign In NBA Playoffs
The Association has become more and more a scoring league, but defense still wins championships. In the past five NBA postseasons, OVERs have hit more than UNDERs just once. The UNDERs have a 234-192-6 record overall over the past five seasons. If you had bet on every NBA playoffs UNDER over the past five seasons at -110 odds, you’d be up +20.7 units.
Last 5 Years OVER/UNDER Record (OVER Win Rate)
Forwards For Finals MVP
Warriors point guard Steph Curry took home NBA Finals MVP in 2022. He was the first guard to win the award since Kobe Bryant in 2010, ending a run of forwards for 11 straight years. With the dominance of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, we’re in the era of the point forward, and it shows in this award. Unless you think Curry could repeat, place your NBA Finals MVP futures bets on a forward.