After a second round that produced two Game Sevens and a trio of seed upsets, we have reached the conference final portion of the NBA playoff schedule, so does my coverage of the top NBA betting trends and systems for the conference final round, looking at both series and game-by-game wagering options. This is part three of a four-part series, with just the NBA Finals segment to go. We already know that the Finals are scheduled to tip off on Thursday, June 6th, so you will see that last piece in about two weeks. Who will reach the title series? Indiana or Boston? Minnesota or Dallas? Let’s take a look at some past trends for betting series.

As I reasoned in the first two articles of this package, being able to predict an upset in a series will give you a leg up on a game-by-game wagering basis. Accurately projecting which underdogs will push a series deep, or alternatively, which favorites will end a series quickly, can really boost your wagering profit in this round and all others. Take a look at some of these series trends based upon won-lost records at various time lengths of the regular season and in the playoffs to date.


• There have been 20 conference finals series over the last 10 playoff seasons, and the better seeds own just an 11-9 edge in series wins and a 63-50 game wins edge during that span. There have been four sweeps, three by the better seed, including Denver over the Lakers last year.

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• There have been ten conference finals series over the last 10 playoff seasons that involved teams squaring off whose regular season win totals were within four of one another. Those series have been almost toss-ups, with the better-seeded team winning five times (30 individual wins) and the lesser seed winning five times (27 individual wins).

• The last three times that there have been differences of double-digit margins between teams’ regular season wins, the better seed won all three series and was 12-3 in individual games. This is the case for the Boston-Indiana series.

• Winning 70%+ of regular season games is a key benchmark of conference championship series success for better seeds. Those that did and weren’t facing a 70%+ win teams are 8-1 in series’ and 32-16 in individual games. Boston was 78% this season. Those that won fewer than 70% if their regular season games are just 3-6 in their last seven conference finals series’ (26-27 in games). This will apply to Minnesota.

• There has been a massive advantage of late in analyzing the earlier playoff round performances of the teams in a conference finals series. Teams that played fewer games in the first two rounds, or essentially lost fewer games in those series, are on a 17-1 conference finals series run! Four of the last 22 series matched teams that played equal games. The only team to lose after playing fewer games was Milwaukee in 2019. Considering this information for 2024, both Boston and Minnesota will be owning edges.

• Teams that faced a Game Seven matchup in either of their first two rounds series have won just two of their last 13 conference finals series when not matched up against an opponent that faced a Game Seven itself. This includes Boston’s upset loss a year ago to Miami. For 2024, both Indiana and Minnesota played in Game Sevens this past Sunday. Neither Boston nor Dallas has been tested to that degree yet this playoff season.

94 points is a low benchmark for conference finals success – Teams that score 94 points or less in a conference finals playoff game have struggled badly, going just 10-51 SU and 11-50 ATS (18%) since 2013.

Success accompanies reaching the 116-point mark – Conference finals playoff teams scoring 116 points or more boast a record of 48-4 SU and 47-3-2 ATS (94%) over the last 11 seasons. Two of those ATS losses came last year, however.

Big favorites are slowing – From 2013-2108 in the NBA playoffs, conference finals favorites of five points or more were 35-6 SU and 28-13 ATS. Since then, they are just 15-12 SU and 10-16-1 ATS (38.5%), including 1-6 ATS a year ago.

Small home favorites have been minimally profitable. Small road favorites have been very vulnerable – Home favorites of 4.5 points or less are on a 10-7 SU and 9-8 ATS (52.9%) surge. Road favorites in the same line range are just 8-10 SU and 6-11-1 ATS (35.3%) in their last 18 tries.

High totals have meant Unders – Of the 43 games in the last nine conference finals seasons with totals of 216.5 or higher, 28 of them have gone Under the total (65.1%). There’s a chance the entire East Finals of 2024 will land in this range.

Totals in the 209-216 range have been most apt to see Over results – There have been 31 games in the last 10 conference finals series that have seen totals in this range, and 23 of them have gone Over (74.2%). It remains to be seen whether there will be enough movement in either 2024 series to land in this total range.

Totals under 209 have leaned Under – The lowest totals over the last decade in the conference finals, those below 209, are on a 20-17-1 Under (54.1%) surge, including 4-1 in last five.

Zig-zag theory is alive and well in conference finals – Over the last three conference finals seasons, teams coming off outright losses in conference finals games are 22-16 SU and 25-12-1 ATS (67.6%) in their 38 follow up games. Those that lost by single digits are 18-8 Under (69.2%) the total in their next game.

Close losses and playing on the road have been a bad scenario – Teams coming off losses of 10 points or less and playing on the road are just 3-13 SU and 6-10 ATS (37.5%) in conference finals games dating back to 2014.

Conference final series-opening games have gone to the home team of late – Home teams hold a 10-6 SU edge but are 7-9 ATS (43.8%) in conference final Game Ones since 2015.

The last eight conference finals Game Ones have been offensive explosions – Seven of the last eight conference final Game Ones have gone Over the total (87.5%), producing 231.9 PPG, surpassing posted totals by over 17 PPG!

Home teams that win the opening game usually win Game Twos as well – In the last 11 conference finals Game Two, home teams that won Game One are 10-1 SU and 6-5 ATS (54.5%) in the follow-up contest.

2-0 leads aren’t security in a conference final series – Game Three conference final teams are up 2-0 in the series are just 6-7 SU and 5-8 ATS (38.5%) in their last 13 tries. However, both Miami and Denver won in this scenario in 2023.

Teams that lost big in Game Two bounce back well in Game Three – An interesting trend that has developed over the last 10 playoff seasons finds that conference final Game Three teams that lost Game Two by double-digits are on a surge of 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS (80%).

Home team Game Fours not down 0-3 are strong plays – Home teams not facing elimination in Game Four have fared very well of late, going 11-3 SU and 10-4 ATS (71.4%).

Teams facing elimination already in Game Four have generally laid down – Conference final Game Four teams that are facing elimination have gone just 3-5 SU and 3-4-1 ATS (42.9%) in their last eight tries. However, Boston did stave off elimination against the Heat last year.

Home teams that won Game Three are also good Game Four bets – Conference final hosts that won Game Four are also on a 7-3 SU and ATS (70%) run in Game Four.

Simply put, the better seeds win Game Fives– The better seeded teams have dominated the Game Five action in conference final series of late, going 13-4 SU and ATS (76.5%) since 2013. In all 17 of those games the outright winner covered the point spread.

Favorites are on a huge Game Five run – Teams laying the points have gone 14-3 SU & ATS (82.4%) in conference final Game Fives.

The team that lost Game Four is a solid Game Five play – Teams that lost Game Four are on a 11-6 SU and ATS (64.7%) run in Game Five of the conference final.

Game Fives with closeout implication have been high scoring – Since 2016, conference final Game Fives have gone 6-1 Over (85.7%) when one of the teams is attempting to close out the series, with games producing 225.1 PPG.

Game Sixes have trended Over the total – Eight of the last 13 conference final Game Sixes have gone Over the total (61.5%).

Teams have capitalized on Game Six closeout opportunities – Four of the last six conference final teams attempting to close out a series have won SU while going 5-1 ATS (83.3%). Two of the wins were outright upsets.

Game Sevens have trended Under – All six Game Sevens over the last 11 seasons have gone Under the total by a margin of 17.6 PPG!

Game Six wins haven’t provided momentum for Game Seven – Teams that won Game Six to force a Game Seven have gone only 3-3 SU and ATS (50%) in the last six series-deciding contests.

#1 seeds struggle as small favorites and/or underdogs – In their last 39 conference final games when playing as underdogs or favorites of 4.5 points or less, #1 seeds are just 16-27 SU and 17-25-1 ATS (40.5%).

Lay the wood with #1 seeds – Top-seeded teams have been stellar at covering big point spreads, going 24-3 SU and 17-10 ATS (63%) in the conference final when favored by 6.5 points or more.

#1 seeds thrive after close wins – Top-seeded teams are on a 10-5 SU and ATS (66.7%) conference final run when coming off a same-series single-digit win.

#1 seeds are solid bets late in a series – In their last 20 Games Five through Seven, #1 seeds are 14-9 SU and ATS (60.9%), with outright winners going a perfect 23-0 ATS in those games.

#2 seeds are solid chalk wagers – Conference final #2 seeds are on a 31-15 SU and 26-20 ATS (56.5%) run as favorites.

#2 seeds are tempting as large dogs, but they have struggled – #2 seeded teams are on a slide of 3-19 SU and 6-16 ATS as underdogs of 5 points or more in the conference final series over the last 10 years.

#3/4 seeds are solid in the big favorite role – Conference final #3 & #4 seeds are on an 11-4 SU and ATS (73.3%) run as favorites of 3.5-points or more.

#3/4 seeds in any other line scenario have floundered of late – Conference final #3 & #4 seeds, when not favored by 3.5 points or more, have struggled terribly of late, going 7-24 SU and 10-19-2 ATS (34.5%) since 2016. Similarly, they are just 8-15 ATS (34.8%) in their last 23 road conference finals games.

#3/4 seeds have bounced back well from losses – Conference final #3 and #4 seeds have responded well after losing a same series game, going 15-12 SU and 18-8-1 ATS (69.2%) in their last 27 tries.

Teams seeded #5 or worse have not won a conference final game when favored since prior to 2013 – Teams seeded #5 or lower are have lost their last six games outright and ATS (0%) in the conference final when favored.

Teams seeded #5 or worse have been phenomenal underdogs in the conference final – Teams seeded #5 or lower have gone 10-10 SU and 14-6 ATS (70%) in their last 20 tries in the underdog role.

#5 and lower seeded teams struggle to put back-to-back wins together – Teams seeded #3 seeds or worse and coming off a win in a conference final series game are just 8-18 SU and 8-17-1 ATS (32%) in the follow-up contest.

Road teams looking to close out series have fared well – Seven of the last nine teams looking to close out a conference final series on the road have done so, going 7-2 SU and 6-2-1 ATS (75%).

Lay the points in closeout games – Conference final teams looking to close out a series have gone 10-2 SU and ATS (83.3%) when favored by more than 4.5-points since 2013, outscoring opponents by 14.2 PPG.

Closeout games have been definitive – There have been 36 different potential series closeout games in the conference final in the last 11 seasons and outright winners are 34-1-1 ATS.