Legally Betting On The NBA Playoffs And Finals For 2017

USA Friendly Basketball FlagIt might not bring in the fans like the Super Bowl or the World Cup, but the annual NBA Playoffs do bring in millions of viewers and billions of dollars in bets. From local bookies, to Vegas sportsbooks and the offshore sites, tens of millions are bet every year during the NBA playoffs. Will you bet wagering this year? Before you make your decision, we feel like we have a piece that you should read before proceeding. We're not going to get bogged down in the details of a regular season, or what it means to have a record number of wins. Throughout this piece, we're going to be focusing on the viable candidates still in the playoffs, and speaking about which teams would make a good bet and which teams you should avoid.

It's very hard to narrow things down to a few strong contenders when the first round of the playoffs isn't even over yet. However, after researching data trends, team numbers, records, and other crucial data, we feel as if we know which teams are going to perform well and which are going to flop and flounder under the pressure of the playoffs. We're not saying that you should definitely bet alongside us; though we are saying that we have actually put in the legwork for the coming predictions. We're not just guessing based on popular wagon-riding trends like so many others are doing. Throughout this piece, we'll examine the lines, the teams left in contention, and even injuries that may act as spoilers for some favorites.

The Legalities - Is Betting On The NBA Playoffs Legal In The US?

p>Believe it or not, there are actually no laws that prohibit players from betting at online sportsbooks. This includes betting on the NBA. The laws that do exist actually make the act or business of accepting bets illegal, not placing the bets. So if your local bookie created a website and allowed players to place bets, that would be illegal. But the act of you placing the bets wouldn't. And because all of the sites we recommend are offshore sites, US gambling law doesn't apply to them.

There is also some confusion about the UIGEA bill. Many websites report that this bill makes online gambling illegal. That's not true at all. The law is actually aimed at banks and financial institutions and makes it illegal for them to process any transactions related to gambling. But it has no text at all that actually makes the act of placing a bet illegal from the players side.

There are a handful of states that have gambling laws or provisions in place that actually make the act of betting illegal on the state level. However no player has ever been arrested simply for gambling online. The only cases of people being arrested or convicted that we are aware of have to do with the act of accepting bets, not placing them.

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Top Site For Betting NBA Finals

2017 NBA Playoffs

Below is a list of the NBA Playoffs starting from the first round to the respective Conference Finals:

Eastern Conference – 1st Round

#8 Chicago Bulls @ #1 Boston Celtics (BOS wins 4-2)

#7 Indiana Pacers @ #2 Cleveland Cavaliers (CLE wins 4-0)

#6 Milwaukee Bucks @ #3 Toronto Raptors (TOR wins 4-2)

#5 Atlanta Hawks @ #4 Washington Wizards (WAS wins 4-2)

Western Conference – 1st Round

#8 Portland Trail Blazers @ #1 Golden State Warriors (GSW wins 4-0)

#7 Memphis Grizzlies @ #2 San Antonio Spurs (SAS wins 4-2)

#6 Oklahoma City Thunder @ #3 Houston Rockets (HOU wins 4-1)

#5 Utah Jazz @ #4 Los Angeles Clippers (UTA wins 4-3)

Eastern Conference – Semifinals

#4 Washington Wizards @ #1 Boston Celtics (BOS wins 4-3)

#3 Toronto Raptors @ #2 Cleveland Cavaliers (CLE wins 4-0)

Western Conference – Semifinals

#5 Utah Jazz @ #1 Golden State Warriors (GSW wins 4-0)

#3 Houston Rockets @ #2 San Antonio Spurs (SAS wins 4-2)

Eastern Conference – Finals

#2 Cleveland Cavaliers @ #1 Boston Celtics (CLE leads 2-1)

Western Conference – Finals

#2 San Antonio Spurs @ #1 Golden State Warriors (GSW leads 3-0)

2017 NBA Playoff Summary

Going into the postseason, most analysts and fans already had the NBA Finals matchup booked—a third straight rematch of the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the pair splitting championships over the previous two seasons, the NBA’s fiercest (and seemingly only) rivalry does make for the best narrative. The Playoffs have been supporting that idea since the beginning, with both teams sweeping their way to their respective Conference Finals. There were some exciting series with the other seeded teams, though injuries have played a major factor.

The top-seeded Boston Celtics looked set to be swept by the Chicago Bulls before Bulls’ starting PG Rajon Rondo was lost to injury. Boston came back to win four straight to keep their postseason hopes alive. Despite being the top seed in the East, the Celtics have been pinned as the underdogs since the beginning. It is difficult to see them as anything but, especially with LeBron James and the Cavs dominating the conference. However, the Celtics have pushed forward thanks to Isaiah Thomas. Thomas’ efforts alone have catapulted the Celtics forward as he has given some of the most heroic Playoff appearances to date. Thomas also underwent a personal tragedy by losing his sister in a car accident during the first round. The second round featured arguably the most exciting series of the Playoffs in the Celtics v. Wizards. Thomas and Wizards star John Wall were two titans fighting for their chance at glory. The series went to 7 games and the Celtics were able to close out at home.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers stood no chance against the Cavaliers, getting easily swept. The Raptors and Bucks series was an exciting one given the young talent, but neither team looked ready for the Cavs. Cleveland made swift work of the Raptors in the second round; it seemed they only had the Warriors in mind. The Eastern Conference Finals was almost going to be another sweep, but the Celtics somehow managed to come back from a large deficit and win at home thanks to a 3-pt buzzer beater from Avery Bradley—an incredible achievement considering they have lost Thomas to a hip injury for the rest of the Playoffs. While no one expects the Celtics to win, this loss was undoubtedly a reality check for the Cavs as they prepare for the Warriors.

The Western Conference also saw its share of dominance, as the Warriors swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and what looks to be another sweep with the San Antonio Spurs. The first round saw the Rockets face the Thunder, with MVP-candidates James Harden and Russell Westbrook against each other. Despite Westbrook’s incredible numbers, their team just couldn’t handle the Rockets. The Grizzlies managed to take their first round series against the Spurs to 6 games, but the Spurs were the #2 seed for a reason. While Golden State calmly advanced to the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs had to deal with the Rockets, ultimately winning in another 6-game series. The WCF matchup of the Warriors and Spurs is a repeat of last year’s and looked to be like another competitive series (the first of the season for the Warriors), however San Antonio lost their star player Kahwi Leonard to a controversial injury caused by the Warriors Zaza Pachulia. After that, the Spurs look depleted and unlikely to win 4 straight against the Warriors.

NBA Finals Preview

With the Warriors’ likely sweep of the Spurs and the Cavs’ probable dismantling of the Celtics after being handed their first Playoff loss, the league, analysts and fans can expect the NBA Finals matchup we have all been waiting for. Last year, the Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead over the Cavs as LeBron went on to bring his hometown their first NBA Championship. The Warriors acquired Kevin Durant in the offseason, which will make for the biggest X-factor this time around. The Warriors have swept their way to the Finals and the Cavs were only handed one loss, which will likely trigger an animalistic lets-not-let-that-happen-again mentality. While some fans have complained about the lack of the competition in this year’s Playoffs, the fact remains that these two teams are where they are at for a reason. The Warriors-Cavs rivalry is like a modern day Lakers-Celtics rivalry, with some of the best players to ever step foot on the court participating. This NBA Finals series may very well go to 7 games once again. Oddsmakers have the Warriors winning, though any intelligent bettor would factor in LeBron James into the conversation. James’ legacy has the potential to be further cemented as he pursues his fourth ring. This series will not be a sweep and will be historical as both teams fight for their second-ever NBA Championship.

Good Bets For The Playoffs

In the Eastern Conference, we have two teams we think will make good bets going forward. The Cleveland Cavaliers should easily push past either the Celtics, Hornets or Pacers, whichever is the lowest seed to emerge. And the Miami Heat are, in our opinion, the sleeper of the playoffs. We feel that they will get through Charlotte without any issue, and if they end up playing Toronto, they will give the Raptors everything they can handle for a full seven games. So if you're wondering who the top two teams are remaining in the East in terms of bets, we'd go with the Cavs and Heat. Both teams are on a mission to prove that they can compete, and Miami is a lot more explosive than they appear. Charlotte has been playing lights out ball, but we don't expect that can continue.

Bad Bets For The Playoffs

We also like two teams in the West, and it's no mystery who we'll pick. The Golden State Warriors can get past the Rockets or the Clippers with or without Steph Curry. Sure, they will be much better with him, and much more likely to cover the spreads, but they can still beat the LA Clippers without him. Part of the reason is that if the Warriors stay without Curry, it evens out because the Clippers are without Chris Paul, who broke his hand in his last game. So the odds are great that the Warriors will end up in the Western Conference Finals. The next team we expect to be a surefire bet is the Spurs. San Antonio will be playing the Oklahoma City Thunder in a few days, and while they're young and fast, they're not nearly as deep as the Spurs. The Spurs proved this during the regular season by staying well ahead of the pack, and there's nothing about the Thunder to cause one to believe they can compete on San Antonio's level of excellence. Better players and better coaching should equate to a one-sided series, 4-1 or 4-2 at best.

The Types of Bets You Can Make on the Games

When betting on the NBA Playoffs, you're going to find quite a few bets at most sportsbooks. Even smaller sports betting sites offer ample options for an event this large. This is because many experienced gamblers go far beyond simply betting on the outcome of a game or series and instead bet per half, per quarter, make prop bets, bet on futures, etc. In this regard, there is certainly no shortage of betting types or structures you can find with most sportsbooks. Here are a few of the betting types you will likely see:

  • NBA Game Lines: Where you bet on point spreads, over-under scores, etc, per a single game
  • NBA Series Price: This is where you'll find odds for the entire series, e.g. Spurs vs. Thunder
  • NBA 1st Quarter Lines: With these bets, you're simply betting on first quarter action
  • 1st Half Lines: Instead of a quarter, you're betting on scores, individual stats, etc, that take place in the first half of a game
  • 2nd Half Lines: Same as above, only with the second half instead of the first
  • All quarters: Basically the same as 1st quarter, only for all three other quarters as well
  • NBA Props: Props are where you can bet on how many free throws someone will take, their shooting percentage, and other odds and ends
  • Game Futures: These are basically like straight bets whereby you will select a team you think will win in the future and place your bet
  • Conference Finals: These are futures that allow you to place bets on which teams you think will make the Finals in each conferences
  • NBA Finals: Same as above, only for the winners of the East and West respectively
  • Exact Game Bets: This is where you will bet on the exact number of games it will take for team A to be B, or vice versa

How To Approach Betting On The Playoffs

Strewn all about the Internet are different user guides and tip-based articles that attempt to help you bet on the NBA. But you have to realize that none of them are actually current. This is a fresh version of one of those guides, and we're dealing with the teams who are playing right now, and their odds of winning right now, and so this is reflected in the advice we offer.

First and foremost, we have to say that you're better off taking one of the top-two teams until they meet up with one another. So, for the best shot of winning, you should take the Warriors over the Clippers (if the Clippers get through) and the Spurs over the Thunder. This doesn't mean you should take them for every single game, of course. Start out by going with the first two at home on straight bets. Neither one of these teams lost more then two games at home all season, and there's no real reason to assume they would start losing them now. After those two straight bets are out of the way, start looking a little more closely at point spreads. For instance, if GS goes to LA and the Warriors are favored by 8, then you might be better off taking the Clippers to cover, even if you think GS will win. This sort of base covering will allow you the maximum amount of leverage in how you bet.

Another thing here is to try not to think too far ahead. Sure, most people have the Warriors at 44% to win the NBA Finals, and at over 60% to make it there, and in the East the Cavaliers' odds of making the Finals are even higher. But there's no real reason that you have to bet that far in advance. There's no benefit to it. The odds aren't so spectacular that you would need to walk out on that limb. You should take things on a game by game basis, or at the most a series by series basis. For instance, say that you bet on the first two Cavs' home games, but they split 1-1. Maybe Love or Irving got hurt. Maybe James is throwing up bricks. By taking it per game, you can adjust your bets and put your money down on the other team at home for an upset. Don't think of this as any sort of reach. This is what many did with the Cavs vs. Warriors last Finals. After the Cavs won, the bets shifted to the Cavs' favor, and the Cavs won again. Momentum and streaks in basketball are important. Things always seem to even out, but ride the waves when you can.

Lastly, we suggest that you avoid long shots. So, you see a game seven in GS where the Warriors are -320 and the Spurs are +550. That plus side is mighty appealing, but look at what you're dealing with. A team led by Steph Curry, playing at home where they've only lost 1 game all year. It might take you a larger bet to win more money, but that's still a far sight better than losing the money. Think hard about the bets you make before you make them.

The NBA Playoffs will be over before you know it. With a little bit of luck and initiative, you can get to a sportsbook now and start picking the winning teams based on the great teams still left in the fold. You're never going to be 100% to win every bet, but you will come out ahead more often than not by taking the averages.

You can find the schedule and full coverage for the NBA playoffs here. Or if you still have any concerns about the legalities, at the following page you can find answers to common questions such as "is online sports betting illegal?".