Two of The NBA's Best Defensive Teams Square off in Finals, So How Should You Bet?

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Two of The NBA's Best Defensive Teams Square off in Finals, So How Should You Bet?
© USA Today

The NBA Finals are a definitive matchup between vast playoff experience against an up-and-coming young roster. 

The Golden State Warriors are making their sixth NBA Finals appearance and looking to win their fourth NBA title in the past eight seasons. The last team to accomplish that was the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls from 1991 to ‘98. 

The Boston Celtics are making their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010. 

Let’s break it down and get you prepared for your NBA betting.


Defense Wins Championships 

This is the first Finals to feature the two-top teams as measured by defensive efficiency rating since 1995-96, when the Bulls defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 4-2. 

The mid-90s featured slow-paced, highly-physical action and the result was a league average of 99.5 points per game (PPG) per team. The league average was almost 10 PPG more this season.

The Celtics were the best in points allowed this season with 104.5 PPG and the Warriors were third at 105.5. 

The Warriors rank second with a defensive effective field goal percentage of 51.1%, sixth against 3-point shooting allowing 34.4%, second in 2-point shooting at 50.8%, and sixth with a 1.617 defensive assist-to-turnover ratio. 

The Celtics rank first with a 49.9% defensive effective field goal percentage, first allowing 33.5% 3-point shooting, first allowing 49.7% 2-point shooting, and third with a 1.558 defensive assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Trends and Angles You Need to Know 

The home team in Game 1 of the NBA Finals is on a 17-2 straight-up (SU) and 16-3 against the spread (ATS) win streak, good for 84.2% winning bets over the past 19 NBA Finals. 

The total has posted a 7-12 Over-Under record in Game 1. The home team has been favored in all 19 games. 

Home favorites of no more than seven points in Game 1 have earned a 14-1 SU and ATS record, including a 6-9 Over-Under record. All these situational angles favor betting the Warriors.


How Much of a Factor is Rest?

The Warriors come into this Finals with six days of rest and only four other Finals had a team with six or more days of rest in the past 19 Finals. The Warriors now account for three of them. 

In Game 1 of the 2005 Finals, the San Antonio Spurs hammered the Detroit Pistons 84-69, priced as -5.5-point favorites and the Under wagered won by 26 points against the 179-point closing total. The Spurs won the NBA Championship. 

In the 2007 NBA Finals, the Spurs won Game 1 85-76 and covered the spread as 7.5-point favorites and the Under won by 19 points. The Spurs won the NBA Championship.

 In the 2015 Finals, the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-100 (had seven days of rest), covering the -6 point spread and the Over wager winning by just four points. The Warriors won the World Championship 4-2. 

In 2017, the Warriors won Game 1 113-91 as 7.5-point favorites, covering the spread by 14.5 points and the Under wager winning by 21 points. The Warriors won the Championship 4-1.

So, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the home team with six or more days of rest are 4-0 SU and ATS with a 1-3 Over-Under and all have gone on to win the NBA Championship. 

I like betting the Warriors moneyline to win the NBA Championship at -165 as offered at BetMGM Sportsbook.


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John Ryan

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