2012 NBA Finals Preview: Who do the Betting Trends Favor?

The 2012 NBA Finals is a dream match-up of young superstars, as the Miami Heat take on the Oklahoma City Thunder beginning on Tuesday, June 12 in Oklahoma City.

Could LeBron/Durant be the next Magic/Bird? With a three-time scoring champ in one corner, and a three-time MVP in the other, both players certainly have the necessary credentials. But who do the betting trends favor in this epic matchup?

The series price (via Sportsbook.ag) currently lists the Thunder as a -160 favorite, likely due to home-court advantage, more days off to rest, and the higher quality of opponents they’ve knocked off to reach the Finals.

Oklahoma City opened as a 3.5-point favorite at Pinnacle, and the Thunder have received the majority of public action with 63% of spread bets coming in on the home favorite. That lop-sided betting has pushed the line to -5 at the time of publication. There’s a good chance that the home team will be favored in every game of the series, so which side should bettors take?

The tables below take a look at recent trends and betting systems using our new Bet Labs software:

*All Units Won/Lost data is derived from Pinnacle’s Opening and Closing Lines

W-L Winning % Units Won/Lost ROI
Miami ATS in
2012
43-42 50.6% -0.64 -0.8
Miami ATS in
2012 receiving  less than 50% of bets
11-7 61.1% +3.26 18.1%

 

W-L Winning % Units Won/Lost ROI
Oklahoma City ATS in 2012 45-36 55.6% +7.10 8.8%
Oklahoma City ATS in 2012 receiving less than 50% of bets 5-2 71.4% +2.86 40.9%

 

W-L Winning % Units Won/Lost ROI
All Favorites in Playoffs since 2006 ATS 291-268 52.1% +10.09 1.8%
All Favorites in Playoffs since 2006 ATS receiving less than 40% of Spread Bets 58-37 61.1% +17.79 18.7%

 

W-L Winning % Units Won/Lost ROI
Home Favorites in Playoffs since 2006 ATS 247-218 53.1% +17.54 3.8%
Home Favorites in Playoffs since 2006 ATS receiving less than 40% of Spread Bets 54-32 56.3% +19.04 22.1%
  • Miami and OKC are both profitable bets this year as public underdogs
  • Favorites receiving less than 40% of Spread Bets in the Playoffs are up nearly 18 units since 2006
  • Home Favorites receiving less than 40% of Spread Bets in the Playoffs are up nearly 20 units since 2006

It’s also worth examining the two previous matchups these teams had this season. On March 25th, Oklahoma City received just 47% of spread bets as a 2-point favorite and easily covered the spread in a 103-87 shellacking. It was also interesting to note that 77% of the public bet the over — moving the total from 200 to 201.5 — however, the teams combined for just 190 points as the under easily covered.

The teams met again just over a week later on April 4th. In this contest, Miami received just 43% of spread bets as a 3-point home favorite but were able to cover the spread in a 98-93 victory. Again the public expected a high-scoring game with 65% of bettors taking the over on 198.5, however, once again the under hit as the teams combined for just 191 points.

Based on this small sample, a few things are obvious. The first is that the public viewed these teams as fairly equal and were more than happy to bet on whomever was getting points and disregarding any sort of home court advantage. We also notice that fans are eager to bet the over, which is likely due to star power of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. What fans may not consider is the defensive ability of these two teams. While OKC ranks amongst the middle of the pack in opponents scoring average (96.9 ppg allowed), Miami actually had the fourth-best scoring defense in the league at 92.5/game.

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