The Warriors might have the experience, championship pedigree, and a historic home-court advantage on their side, but absolutely none of it mattered in Game 3. With Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both out of the lineup, the Raptors took advantage by coming out hot and never looking back. Durant is once again out for Game 4, but Thompson is expected to return for Golden State in what suddenly feels like a must-win game. Will they get up off the mat and punch back, or will Toronto deliver yet another crucial blow to the Warriors’ dreams of a three-peat? Let’s get after it in our Game 4 betting preview.
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As I noted above, Golden State is a tough out at Oracle Arena. They are 169-37 dating back to the start of the 2015-2016 season, winning 82% of their games played at home. They are an even more remarkable 36-7 during the postseason, and yet, none of it mattered in Game 3 as Golden State was outscored in all four quarters on the way to a shocking 123-109 loss. Just how thorough was the beating? According to ESPN’s win probability tracker, the Raptors were favored to win the game from the 7:53 mark in the first quarter onward.
This was when it was over for good:
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) June 6, 2019
Just total domination and it came despite a 47-point effort from Steph Curry.
Speaking of Curry, he comes in having scored at least 33 points in seven of his last eight games, and he’ll need to stay hot in order to even this series, particularly if Toronto replicates its 52.4% Game 3 shooting percentage. It wasn’t just about the shooting though, as the Raptors outscored the Warriors both in transition and in the paint. They also hit 20 of 21 free throws and edged the Warriors in blocks, steals, and assists. Like I said, total domination.
NBA Finals Game 4 odds
Here are the Raptors-Warriors odds for Game 4:
As of late Friday morning, we’re looking at a line similar to what we saw ahead of Game 3, which is interesting because it’s still a rarity. If the line sticks or shrinks, Game 4 would mark only the fifth time this season the Warriors weren’t favored by more than at least five points at home. It would also be only the sixth time they would be favored by less than six points. Simply put, we just don’t often see short lines with the Warriors at Oracle Arena. For what it’s worth, Golden State is 2-2 ATS this season when favored by less than five points at home.
Now let’s talk a little bit about line movement. The Warriors were as much as a 5.5-point favorite shortly after losing in Game 3, but with Durant once again out and some uncertainty surrounding Thompson’s effectiveness, we’ve seen the line come back down. DraftKings’ latest report has 47% of the total handle and 46% of spread bets on Toronto even at this reduced number, so there remains quite a bit of confidence from bettors backing the Raptors.
This is the first time since the NBA Finals market opened that Toronto is favored to win the series. At DraftKings, you can grab the Raptors at -130 and the Warriors at +105, while you can get Toronto at -130 and Golden State at +105 at PointsBet.
Here’s the bottom line–if you think Golden State is going to win this series, Durant is still out, and they’re down a game, so now is the time to pounce. Even with the series moving back to Toronto at 2-2, Golden State will certainly become the favorite again with a win tonight.
On the other hand, if you like Toronto, there’s two schools of thought here. A win tonight will drive their price back up, so now may be the time to buy. After all, FiveThiryEight currently gives Toronto a staggering 71% chance to win the NBA Finals, which means -130 is more than a fair price. That’s the contrarian value created by going against betting public that still desperately wants to believe in Golden State. BUT if they lose and this thing goes 2-2, the value on the Raptors will only further increase while still being in decent shape. My take? However you feel about this series, now is a good time to lock in a series winner bet.
Of course, you could have taken our advice prior to Game 1 and grabbed the Raptors at +230, like Kyle did.
I just put $100 on the Raptors to win the series: pic.twitter.com/wKtRLz9Gsn
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) May 30, 2019
If you’re so inclined, FiveThirtyEight basically has Game 4 as a toss-up, with the Raptors having a 46% chance to win tonight. The statistical projections reveal value for betting on the Raptors at +171 with PointsBet because the statistical probability of a win significantly outweighs the implied probability of the moneyline. So if you like the Raptors, great, because they most definitely represent value.
The same principle applies with the point spread. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO forecast, which takes into account player projections, sets the line at Golden State -1. Meanwhile, their ELO forecast sets the line at Golden State -3. Either way, there’s value.
General betting trends
Let’s first start with each team’s overall performance against the spread. The Raptors are a mediocre 49-53-1 ATS this season, while the Warriors have been one of the NBA’s worst cover teams this year at 43-56-2. I don’t typically factor a team’s overall cover performance when picking the games, but these overall ATS records don’t reveal much other than to say Golden State spreads have probably been consistently inflated because of reputation. That seemed to be the case the other night.
Now, let’s go a little deeper. In terms of home/road ATS performance. Despite a 36-14 SU record at home, the Warriors have been a miserable 19-30-1 ATS in their own building, giving them the league’s third-worst home cover rate. Meanwhile, Toronto is only one of three teams with a better than .600 winning-percentage on the road, but is only 23-26-1 ATS overall. They are, however, a solid 12-8 ATS as a road dog this season.
NBA Finals trends
Here are some things to know from a recent historical perspective ahead of this one:
Home teams are 6-7-1 ATS in Game 4 of the NBA Finals since the 2005-2006 season and 3-2-1 ATS in Game 4s after a Game 3 loss. Moreover, home teams are 18-19-1 ATS when favored by five points or less during the NBA Finals, including the Warriors’ Game 3 loss. More specifically, those teams are 7-9-1 ATS in Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals dating back to the 2004-2005 season. If we manipulate the spread range to a more exact four to five points, home teams are 8-11 ATS during the NBA Finals during that same period. While that’s not particularly convincing one way or another, here’s one thing to know: Home teams favored between 3 to 4.5 points are 3-0-1 ATS in Game 4s when coming off a loss, so recent history suggests this is a favorable spread for teams playing their second home game of the series.
A Warriors’ rebound? Not so fast
Given the Warriors’ aforementioned dominance at home, I thought they would probably perform pretty well ATS at Oracle Arena following a loss, but that hasn’t been the case. They are only 6-8 (42.9% cover rate) after a loss this season. I mention this because if your line of thinking is something like, “They lost in Game 3, so they’ll be mad and win convincingly in Game 4,” well, that could happen, it’s just that more often than not it hasn’t played out that way this year.
Good things come to those who wait
A strange one here, but many bettors like to jump in with live betting or place additional wagers at halftime. If you plan to do that this evening, here’s something to know: Underdogs have covered the second half spread in the last 11 second halves between these two teams. Obviously, you should keep a close eye on how things transpire early and consider your additional wagers before jumping in, but recent history suggests there could be an opportunity worth seizing here.
Oh, and one other thing. The Raptors are 7-3-1 ATS, a 68.2% cover rate, after winning as underdogs this season, so they haven’t been prone to let downs off of upset wins.
I want absolutely nothing to do with the moneyline in this game. Despite Toronto’s superior play throughout this series, it’s hard to imagine this thing going back to Toronto with the Raptors leading 3-1. That said, Toronto has been the superior team, and it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that trend can continue. Toronto simply offers too much value to pass up, so I’m going to roll with the underdog once more and grab the points.