NBA Finals Handicapping: Taking a Closer Look at the Home Team
by George Monroy - 6/5/2013
The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will be facing off in an NBA Finals matchup that will not be short on star power or intriguing storylines. The problem for NBA bettors is that neither team has much experience playing against each other over the last three seasons, as every time the ball clubs matched up someone was either hurt or not playing for one reason or another.
Any NBA Playoff series is a feeling-out process that has its own ebbs and flows, but this Miami versus San Antonio matchup might be a nightmare to handicap. The teams are so evenly matched, and have decisive strengths and weakness in certain areas, that imagining either club winning the series in five, six or seven games is completely realistic. The first game might be the most difficult to predict because the teams are still getting to know each other and trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Our best bet is to take a look at how home teams have done in previous NBA Finals and figure out which wager has the most historical value to bet on.
Game 1 Spreads:
The Heat are 5.5-point favorites heading into their Game 1 matchup, according to the oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag. Generally, Game 1 spreads range from 3.5 points to six points for evenly-matched teams but can get wildly out of hand during mismatches and reach into double-digits. Over the last 10 years, the home team in the NBA Finals has won nine out of 10 Game 1s and covered the spread the same amount of time. The last time a home team did not cover the Game 1 spread was back in 2004 when the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons. Here is a quick look at the results for Game 1 over the last 10 years.
NBA Finals Game 1 Results:
2012: Thunder 105, Heat 94
2011: Heat 92, Mavericks 82
2010: Lakers 102, Celtics 89
2009: Lakers 100, Magic 75
2008: Celtics 98, Lakers 88
2007: Spurs 85, Cavaliers 76
2006: Mavericks 90, Heat 80
2005: Spurs 84, Pistons 69
2004: Lakers 75, Pistons 87
2003: Spurs 101, Nets, 89
Even though the home team is usually dominant during the opening game of the NBA Finals and win by an average of 11.5 points per game, that does not mean they go on to win the series. The underdog has pulled off the upset after losing Game 1 in four out of the last 10 NBA Finals. Even recently, the underdog has lost Game 1 the last two years in a row but has gone on to win the series in six games. Last year the Heat weren’t able to cover Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they still went on to win the title. The previous year, Miami beat the Dallas Mavericks by 10 points during Game 1 but went on to lose the series.
NBA Finals Game 2 Results:
2012: Thunder 96, Heat 100
2011: Heat 93, Mavericks 95
2010: Lakers 94, Celtics 103
2009: Lakers 101, Magic 96
2008: Celtics 108, Lakers 102
2007: Spurs 103, Cavaliers 92
2006: Mavericks 99, Heat 86
2005: Spurs 97, Pistons 76
2004: Lakers 99, Pistons 91
2003: Spurs 85, Nets 87
The results of Game 2 have favored the road team a bit more than in Game 1. The road team has covered the spread in Game 2 five times in the last 10 years and has managed to pull off a 1-1 series split six times. And when the road team manages to steal one of the first two games of the series, they have gone on to win the NBA title four out of six times.
NBA Finals Trends over the Last 10 Years:
- Road team 5-5 Game 2 ATS record
- The road team has gone down 0-2 four times in the last 10 years.
- When the road team goes down 0-2, they have not won the series once.
- The road team has split the opening series in six of the last 10 years.
- When the road team splits the opening series, they win the title 66 percent of the time.
- Home teams win Game 1 by an average of 11.5 points
- Home teams have a 9-1 Game 1 ATS record
According to history, the Miami Heat should be able to cover Game 1 by a wide margin, but the Spurs have at least a 50 percent chance of covering the Game 2 spread. If the Spurs can win one of the first two games in this series, the numbers state that they have a solid chance at winning the series. This is a close matchup that could go either way, and even though the Heat are the favorite, the Spurs are a good enough team to cover spreads and keep the games close. Remember to bet wisely, and may the spread be with you.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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