2020 NBA Playoffs: A Point Spread Recap

by Al McMordie

At the start of the NBA Playoffs, there were a lot of theories about which teams would do well in the Orlando bubble environment.  Would it be wise to take the points with the underdogs, or lay the points with the favorites?  Would the better-coached teams have an advantage, and so forth.  

I was one of the handicappers who averred that the better NBA coaches would do very well, and speculated that the Miami Heat (Erik Spoelstra), Boston Celtics (Brad Stevens), and San Antonio Spurs (Gregg Popovich) would be the ones to watch.  Unfortunately, the Spurs' NBA-record streak of 22 consecutive Playoff appearances ended, so we never had the opportunity to see how Pop's troops would have performed in the Playoffs, but his team did go 5-3 ATS in the regular season bubble games.  And Boston (10-7 ATS) and Miami (16-5 ATS) certainly acquitted themselves well throughout the Playoffs.

With respect to categories like favorites and underdogs, etc., what was most surprising was how evenly divided things turned out.  Let's review the numbers.

There were 83 Playoff games played across the 15 series.  And exactly half the games were covered by the favorite (40-40-3 ATS).  

Similarly, teams off a straight-up win also covered exactly 50% (43-43-3), as did teams off a straight-up loss (37-37-3 ATS).

If one goes further into the numbers, one finds that the shorter-priced favorites did the worst.  Teams favored by less than four points were an awful 7-16-1 ATS, including 2-9-1 ATS off a win.  Meanwhile, teams favored from -4 to -6 points did the best, with a 16-6-1 ATS record, including 8-3 ATS off a win.

The unders were profitable at 45-36-2.  

And teams off a blowout loss by 15+ points went 11-9-1 ATS in the Playoffs (and 23-12-1 ATS if one includes the regular season bubble games).

Finally, teams off back to back losses went 19-14-2 ATS, including 12-4-1 ATS if they weren't getting 5+ points.  Though teams down 2-games-to-none underperformed at 4-5 ATS.

Good luck, as always....Al McMordie  

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