Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Road Warriors

On May 8th, 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers won in Atlanta, beating the Hawks by one point when favoured by five.

That was the last time a road (away) team won a playoff game straight up while failing to cover the spread.

Backing road favourites in the NBA is a profitable activity, as I have written previously. This is also true in the playoffs where over the last five full seasons, plus the current one in progress, the numbers are 76-46 straight up and 69-50-3 ATS (ROI 12.9%). 

The 2017-18 season is now down to its final series, which for the fourth consecutive season is between the heavily favoured Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors beat the Houston Rockets last night (as road favourites I might add) to reach the finals, helped somewhat by Houston going on a run of 27 missed three-point attempts, a post season record and a streak that FiveThirtyEight calculates at 1 in 72,000. The spell lasted for more than half of the game, a Game 7 for a place in the NBA Finals!  

For the first game of the series, the home Warriors are favoured by 12 points, a total only exceeded in the playoffs once this season. 

It doesn't happen often in the playoffs, but the edge on hungry road favourites coming off a loss when playing at a team basking smugly in the glory of a win in their previous game, is still there, albeit somewhat diluted, but an ROI of double figures is never to be sniffed at in my opinion. 

Here are the regular season numbers since 2006:

And those for the playoffs (note the increase in selections in recent years):

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