There are lots of ways to bet the NBA Finals, so here are some tips for not only betting the spread and total, but some of the other options for your NBA Picks as well.
Spreads and Totals
If last season was any indication, the Finals tend to lean towards the under being a pretty good play when it comes to these two teams. Last season if it weren't for Game 1 going into overtime and cashing the over, the under was a fantastic play in the 2015 NBA Finals. Cleveland and Golden State brought their defenses to play last season, but this year seems different. Because of their stellar offensive play in the postseason, the Cavs' defense hasn't been anywhere close to what they were in the regular season, or in last year's Finals.
Cleveland ranks seventh in the playoffs in Defensive Rating at 105.1 points per 100 possessions. This has also been against three opponents pretty inferior to the three that Golden State has played, yet the Warriors have the same exact same DRtg in the postseason at 105.1.
However, both teams were better on defense last season. The Warriors had the best Offensive and Defensive ratings of all teams in last season's playoffs, and the Cavs were a full two points better on defense last postseason.
The sportsbooks have taken notice. Right now the total for Game 1 is 210 points, which is a lot more than any total of their series against one another last season. However, it still may be too high, so right now I'm leaning on the under.
The spread is a different animal entirely in this series. Game 1 opened at -5½ in favor of Golden State has been quickly bet up to -6. I am definitely leaning towards the Warriors in Game 1, especially considering how we don't know how the Cavaliers will react to the long layoff.
Right now Bovada sportsbook has the Warriors as -210 favorites to win the series, while the Cavaliers are +175 underdogs. This may seem like enticing odds, but the better value when betting a series like the NBA Finals comes from betting the exact series outcome. Right now a handful of books already have odds out for such a wager, and the overwhelming three favorites right now are the Warriors to win in five or six games, or betting the Cavaliers to win in six games.
When it comes to these wagers, you have to ask yourself whether you think there is another outcome that has a better chance of happening with worse odds. Right now in my eyes the Cavaliers winning in seven games might be slightly easier than in six, yet the NBA odds at Betway for that is +800, compared to around +300 to win in six games.
Some sportsbooks also offer you a chance to just generically bet on how long the series will last with no winners, which is also a better way than to just bet a winner. The favorite right now at +175 is seven games, followed by +200 in six games, and five games at +210. I would argue that the series has a better chance of paying off at five or six games rather than seven. These are all ways to get better odds on series futures betting.
Team and Player Props
When it comes to prop bets, I will be walking you through team and player props for every game of the NBA Finals, but I am here to highlight some things you should look for in this series.
The first is Game 1. Watching Game 1 and the two team's rotations closely is going to be crucial. You will know which team is going to make an adjustment, and which one is going to continue doing the same things in Game 2. Andre Iguodala from last year's Finals is a good example. His insertion into the starting lineup made him a huge value in NBA Props Picks after Game 1.
Team props are all about the adjustments. Similar to player props, watching Game 1 and figuring out the pace and rotations of the teams can put you in a better position to predict who is going to play, the pace, and how the teams are going to game plan for one another.
News is also important. Before Game 7 in the WCF this year, it was announced that Iguodala was going to start. Even though he still did not cash the over in any of his player props, these small bits of news can always lead to a more informed wager in player and team props for the NBA Finals.