2015 NBA Finals Betting Trends

Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off on Thursday night with the Golden State Warriors (67-15) hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29). The Warriors opened as 5.5-point favorites at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook and, at the time of publication, were receiving 38% of spread bets.

Despite this one-sided action, Golden State has actually moved to -6 across the sports betting marketplace. It’s interesting to see the public once again pounding the underdog, as this type of action is highly irregular during the regular season but fairly common during the postseason.

We’ll be publishing a full analysis for Game 1 on Thursday afternoon, but right now fans may be curious about how the entire series will play out. The Warriors are currently -240 to win the NBA Finals at 5Dimes, but perhaps more noteworthy is that bettors can actually wager on every game in the series.

  1. Cleveland at Golden State (-6)
  2. Cleveland at Golden State (-5)
  3. Golden State at Cleveland (-2.5)
  4. Golden State at Cleveland (-2.5)
  5. Cleveland at Golden State (-5.5)
  6. Golden State at Cleveland (-3)
  7. Cleveland at Golden State (-5.5)

The first observation we notice is that Golden State is favored by one fewer point in Game 2 than they are in Game 1. The Warriors are also favored by a half-point more in Game 6 than they are in Game 4. For what it’s worth, the total for every game is 202.5.

Most sportsbooks offer a prop bet regarding the exact series result, and right now oddsmakers believe the most likely outcome is that the Warriors will win the series in seven games. The least likely outcome, which should come as no surprise, would be the Cavaliers sweeping the series. The list below displays the current odds at Bovada:

  1. Cavs in 4 | +1800
  2. Cavs in 5 | +1200
  3. Cavs in 6 | +500
  4. Cavs in 7 | +600
  5. Warriors in 4 | +800
  6. Warriors in 5 | +350
  7. Warriors in 6 | +400
  8. Warriors in 7 | +260

Regarding some of the more basic trends, there have been no significant edges. Since 2005, favorites have gone 29-28 ATS during the NBA Finals while home teams have gone 31-26 ATS. However, our hallmark strategy of betting against the public continues to be profitable. The table below displays the sweet spots for contrarian betting:

Spread Percentage Record (ATS) Units Won ROI
<49 31-24 +5.59 10.2%
<45 23-13 +9.01 25.0%
<40 9-4 +4.67 35.9%

According to our Bet Labs software, no team has ever received less than 31% of spread bets during the NBA Finals. The two teams who have received such limited support include:

  1. Miami Heat (-3) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | 6/19/12 (W)
  2. Orlando Magic (-1.5) vs. Los Angeles Lakers | 6/11/09 (L)

In regards to the total, the under has gone 31-25 over the past decade while betting against the public has been similarly profitable. The under has gone 27-21 and the over has gone 3-2 when receiving less than 50% of public bets.


These two teams faced off twice during the regular season, splitting the season series. However, LeBron James did not play in the teams’ first matchup:

  1. February 26, 2015: GS at CLE (-3 | O/U 216.5) — Cavs win 110-99
  2. January 9, 2015: CLE at GS (-13.5 | 210.5) — Warriors win 112-94

The Cavaliers were 13.5-point underdogs with King James sidelined and Kevin Love healthy; however, they are only 6-point underdogs with LeBron James suiting up and Kevin Love out for the season. This indicates the LeBron is worth roughly 7.5-points to the spread.

Historically, postseason totals tend to be significantly lower than regular season totals, and that fact is certainly validated by this series. With both teams fully healthy on February 26th the total was 216.5. Although Kevin Love’s absence certainly factors in, it’s amazing to see the total drop 14-points to 202.5.


Last season Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard showed the nation why he was one of the game’s best kept secrets. With lock down defense and a well-rounded offensive game, Leonard averaged 17.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game en route to winning the NBA Finals MVP Award.

Leonard had opened as a +1800 long shot to win the Finals MVP at Intertops, making him easily the most improbable winner in recent history. The table below displays the Finals MVP odds over the past seven years. (H/T SportsOddsHistory.com)

Year Player Team Odds
2014 Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs +1800
2013 LeBron James Miami Heat -250
2012 LeBron James Miami Heat +130
2011 Dirk Nowitzki Dallas Mavericks +160
2010 Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers -182
2009 Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers -300
2008 Paul Pierce Boston Celtics +400

After taking home the MVP Award this season, Stephen Curry (-200) is expected to add to this trophy collection by winning the Finals MVP.

It should be noted that both Kyrie Irving (+1200) and Klay Thompson (+1600) are both nursing injuries entering this series. While Irving is still dealing with a knee injury, Thompson suffered a concussion in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals after taking knee to the head. Both players are currently listed as probable, and bettors can track the latest news on our free NBA injury page.

Other NBA Finals player props include:

These numbers are always subject to change, so we recommend that bettors track the latest odds and betting trends on our free odds page.

Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at help@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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