Betting on Underdogs in the NBA Conference Semifinals

Doc MosemanCorrespondent IMay 5, 2014

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, right, puts up a shot as Golden State Warriors forward David Lee, left, and forward Draymond Green defend during the first half in Game 7 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The opening round of this year’s NBA playoffs was one of the most competitive in recent memory. It took 50 of a potential 56 games to decide the eight conference quarterfinal matchups. Five of the eight series went all seven games.

Looking back at Doc’s Sports scores and betting results, the underdog went 23-27 straight up in the 50 games with a profitable record against the spread of 33-15-2. That translates to a net gain of $1,650 on a $100 wager if you would have bet the underdog in every game. The cream rose to the top at the end with the favorite winning four of the five Game 7 matchups SU while going 3-2 ATS.

You have to ask yourself for this next round of games if the positive betting trend on the underdog will continue.

The playoffs resume Monday night with the start of two of the four series in the NBA Conference Semifinals. The Washington Wizards could be the most intriguing underdog in the East with a date Monday against Indiana in the next round. They stunned Chicago in five games in the opening round, going 4-1 ATS.

The momentum heading into this series is certainly in their favor, especially when you consider that No. 1 Indiana needed seven games to get past No. 8 Atlanta after falling behind 3-2. The Pacers went 3-4 ATS in the seven games, but going all the way back to the final regular-season game in February, they are a costly 9-24 ATS in their last 33 contests. I would say that your best bet is to continue to ride the Wizards in the first few games, especially if they open as underdogs at home.

The second series in the East pits No. 6 Brooklyn against No. 2 Miami starting Tuesday night. The Nets needed seven games to get past Toronto. And while they were slight series’ favorites going into that matchup, they won Game 7 as three-point underdogs on the road.

Brooklyn will undoubtedly be a heavy underdog against defending champion Miami and for good reason. The Heat rolled over Charlotte in four games in the opening round with a 3-1 record ATS, winning those three games by double-digit margins. Miami has gone against the grain in these playoffs in a big way, and I am not about to start betting against this team right now. With some wily veterans of its own, Brooklyn should be able to give Miami's Big Three a battle, so I am going with a wait-and-see approach for this series.

Shifting gears to the Western Conference, the first matchup pits the embattled Los Angeles Clippers against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had their own share of problems in the opening round. Both teams needed seven games to advance, but the Clippers had the rougher road amid the off-court distractions caused by team owner Donald Sterling. The problems of the Thunder were self-inflicted as they went down 3-2 against Memphis.

The Clippers appeared to come together as a result of their adversity, but their record ATS in the series against Golden State was 2-5. They will now switch to the role of underdog against Oklahoma City, especially for the first two games on the road, according to Doc’s Sports NBA odds. The Thunder rallied with two stirring performances to end the series against the pesky Grizzlies. But I still think they are a prime team to bet against in the first two games of this matchup as home favorites.

The final series in the West is the Portland Trail Blazers as the fifth seed going against top-seeded San Antonio. By eliminating favored Houston in six games, Portland served notice that it is serious about making a deep run in the postseason. The Spurs got off to a slow start against Dallas, falling behind 2-1 in the series before rallying with three SU victories in the last four games. The Trail Blazers went 4-2 ATS, while the Spurs failed to cover in the first six games against the Mavericks. I would continue to ride this trend through the first few games of this series until we see how things shake out.