NBA betting: Favorites, unders dominating in postseason so far

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Favorites have dominated the NBA postseason thus far.

There have been 14 games played since the play-in tournament began, and only one underdog has won a game outright. In the other 13 games, the betting favorite prevailed.

That lone underdog was the Minnesota Timberwolves, who won Game 1 of their first-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies 130-117 on Saturday. The Grizzlies, the West’s No. 2 seed, closed as 6.5-point favorites at BetMGM, but the young Timberwolves got strong performances from Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Malik Beasley in an impressive road victory.

There have been a few other underdogs that came close to pulling outright upsets, but the Timberwolves are the only group to get it done thus far.

And while that 13-1 mark straight-up is impressive, favorites have done very well against the spread as well. Entering Monday night’s action, favorites are 10-4 against the spread in postseason play.

In addition to Minnesota’s Game 1 upset victory, there were three other underdogs to cover the spread. The first came in the first play-in game when the Cleveland Cavaliers covered as 9.5-point underdogs against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets held a big lead for much of the game, but a late charge brought Cleveland inside the number in an eventual 115-108 decision.

The two other underdogs did not come until Sunday when the Nets covered as four-point underdogs against the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls covered as 10.5-point underdogs against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics won 115-114 on a last-second Jayson Tatum lay-in while the Bucks pulled away late and beat the Bulls 93-86 in a hard-fought matchup.

Between the Nets-Cavs play-in game and those two results on Sunday, favorites had a 9-1 ATS stretch.

Will that continue as the first round continues? There are three more games on Monday night and all three favorites are attracting significant action from bettors, according to the latest betting data from BetMGM.

The 76ers, 7.5-point favorites over the Raptors at BetMGM, have received 77% of the bets and 88% of the money. The Jazz, 5.5-point road favorites over the Mavericks with Luka Doncic unlikely to play, have received 63% of the bets and 77% of the money. The Warriors, 6.5-point favorites over the Nuggets, have received 81% of the bets and 90% of the money.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) drives as New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones defends during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns covered the spread as 10-point favorites over the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, April 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Another trend? Games going under the total

In addition to favorites consistently covering thus far in the NBA postseason, games have been going under the total at a pretty strong clip.

Through 14 games, the under is 10-4. It’s a figure that’s not necessarily surprising. Defensive intensity — and overall physicality — tends to pick up when the postseason rolls around.

As such, we’ve seen a fair share of low-scoring games. Well, low-scoring by NBA standards like Jazz 99, Mavericks 93 and Bucks 93, Bulls 86.

The 10 games that have gone under the total have done so by an average of 13.6 points per game with the Bucks-Bulls game as the outlier of the bunch. The total for that game was 230 and it ended 51 games under the total.

For Monday night’s games, bettors have flocked to the under in two of the three games. In the Raptors-76ers game, the total is sitting at 217.5 at BetMGM and 71% of the bets and 67% of the money is on the under.

Additionally, 63% of the bets and 81% of the money is on the under 224.5 in the Nuggets versus Warriors game.

In the Jazz versus Mavericks game, though, 73% of the bets and 86% of the money is on the over 205.5.

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