2018 NBA Finals… LeBron vs the Dubs Part IV

Dear Sports Fans,

Spare me your “Finals will be boring” takes. The best player of this generation is matched up against the most talented team of this generation in a best of seven bloodmatch. We have endless star power, complex and entertaining characters, and of course spreads and totals to play. This is not the culmination of a year’s long journey, we are at the end of a FOUR YEAR marathon to finally tally the score between LeBron and the Dubs. The King has virtually nothing to lose, this is his worst supporting cast to-date, 2 wins would be a worthy achievement and a series win would be akin to pulling off the impossible. Meanwhile, the Warriors have their own demons to overcome in order to cement their dynasty, even as the overwhelming favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. Chances are good the losing team will not be back for Round 5 (at least not in its current form), so this is it… this is the end.

Enjoy the show.

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No point in re-hashing the history, unless you’ve been in a coma you know we sit at 2–1. You remember Curry, Dray, Klay and Co. winning Round 1 against a battered Cavs team on the back of a spectacular defensive effort from Iggy. Round 2 was an unforgettable classic with LeBron and Kyrie overcoming a 1–3 deficit against the winningest team of all time. Adding Durant for the 3rd Round proved an impossible challenge for King James as the Dubs nearly pulled off the perfect postseason. Results for the previous 18 games in this series are summarized below.

 

Numerous angles to attack this years series betting market. The clear expectation and widespread belief from prognosticators is that the Dubs repeat the gentleman’s sweep. Cavs pick up a mercy game in the Q and Dubs close out at home to win 4–1 (surprisingly pays +173). If you are feeling extra bullish on the Dubs (maybe based on how weak the East was, maybe based on the poor Cavs defense throughout the season), then the true sweep is available for the tasty price of +220. If you’ve got outstanding liability on the Warriors to win the title, like myself, then it may make more sense to explore the Cavs series future options. As discussed below, there may be additional reasons to support the Cavs keeping this a competitive series beyond protecting Warriors futures investments.

 

 

From a pure match-up standpoint and looking at the advanced stats of these teams, this series is a mismatch in favor of the Dubs based on the Cavs inability to adequately defend the 3-pt line when there is ball-movement and their poor ability to get back in transition; these are two areas where Golden State is excellent offensively. For these reasons, Cavs backers will need external factors to support any hope that this series will be competitive. In no particular order, some potential external factors include:

· LeBron’s basketball IQ to this point is off the charts high, he has developed his offensive game in a way that specifically generates high percentage looks against a team like the Dubs who will always have one sub-par defender on the floor and are average at best when defending the rim, this suggests they can play at a slower pace (not unlike what we saw the Rockets employ) and still get key baskets, particularly late in games

· Draymond has become a true offensive liability and in the same way that the Cavs dared Marcus Smart (and later in the series Jaylen Brown) to shoot the 3, Green will get many opportunities to prove that he hasn’t forgotten how to shoot (even though all evidence this postseason suggests he has)

· Injuries on the Warriors are a concern at this point given their meak bench; Steph is clearly still coming back to 100%, Klay has taken multiple shots this post season and although not widely reported, something is clearly not right with KD (more on this is a second)

· Lack of focus has been an issue for the Dubs all season, they could very well snap out of it now that we’ve reached the Finals but there likely be lackadaisical quarters, halves and potentially full games that handicap this team

· Warriors chemistry is something I have a close eye on, all is not well between the major personalities in the Dubs locker room, Draymond’s hyseretics are wearing thin, Durant seems checked out to an extent (like he’s ready to find a new challenge), Curry will likely be pressing to re-write his Finals legacy and Klay looks a little stoned all the time so who knows, Steve Kerr is definitely concerned

· Hate pointing to the Refs but LeBron has put on a masterclass at getting a favorable whistle this season and it’s in the best interest of the League to have an extended series for millions, and millions of reasons.

Playing:

Cleveland Cavaliers series games won +2½ +172

Golden State Warriors win series 4–2 +500

LeBron James wins NBA Finals MVP +700

…to go along with enormous positions on the Warriors to win the title placed throughout the season.

Have fun and enjoy the series folks, it’s unlikely we’ll get another match-up with this rich a cast and this much history in our lifetimes. BOL

NBA Daily Plays

Daily cards for NBA are finally here. Wanted to share a couple notes for the new follows and answer some frequently asked questions.

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I run a simple NBA model that uses offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions), defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) and pace (possessions per game) to project scores for each game. I calculate all the input parameters myself (using the data available here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ph3j0jWhn66SmIweumX4nt2DXJUbXG-qUE_5Go66hVk/edit?usp=sharing) and adjust them for strength of opponent. After coming up with a baseline projection, I adjust for situations like travel, injuries, key player rest, trending performance and familiarity of opponents to result in a projected game score which is then compared to the line and total to find an edge and determine plays.

Summary of 2016–2017

The regular season was up and down. Most nights put together a 5-play card with a mix of spreads and totals with an average juice of -110. Generally took off Sundays and had a little hiatus back in November but playing consistently throughout the season was a full on grind. In total after 604 plays, finished with 309 wins, 284 loses and 11 pushes for a net -3.4 units. Here’s a nice visual aid of the highs and the lows:

Peaked at +19.1u about a week before the All-Star Break but then went into a free-fall the Wednesday and Thursday pre-break. Didn’t snap the cold streak until post-St Patty’s Day, officially bottomed out at -10.6 units. Despite posting plays on 118 days, only got swept twice (once in December and once in February) and only managed to sweep three times.

In general, overs were the cash cow hitting at 59% of over plays while under plays were atrocious hitting only 47%. No significant bias on the favs or dogs with both coming in around 52%.

The playoffs went well finishing 83–83–0 for +18.9 units. Key to winning in the playoffs was selling points (avoiding juice) and playing alt spreads when you identify your edge.

A Few Expectations:

· The model will be run for every game and projected score will be posted on weekdays by 3:30 PM Pacific time.

· Saturdays will likely have plays but may not post a full card with projected scores unless I have time to make the necessary adjustments across the full slate (and time to make the graphics).

· Similar to last year, we’ll be taking Sundays off with a few exceptions.

· Looking for the strongest edge in any given game and rarely will play both a side and total in the same game.

· In evaluating the edge we’re looking for over 2.5 points to make a play but sticking with 1u flat betting system unless there is evidence that the magnitude of the edge correlates with a higher win %tage for NBA (which will be evaluated after we have a month or two of data).

· Looking to sell points on almost every play, reduce the juice is the name of the game in the NBA.

· Doing all my NBA at 5Dimes where lines go up early and you can sell half points before the markets get sharp.

· All plays will be posted and tracked on the SportsAction App (a mandatory mobile app for sports betting information); because it’s kind of a burden, there may some small differences in the lines and odds on the app but the odds posted on the twitter feed are all real wagers placed at 5D and represent my official plays.

· Weekly summaries will be posted on Mondays, tracking results here daily: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fNLaqceIohND5NNZqmlEXD6ka1Yog3sLGxi7r2b4pDc/edit?usp=sharing

· Happy to answer any questions, hit me up whenever.

Dubs-Cavs Game 4 and 2017 Season in Review

Exec Summary: It’s important for next year if they face this same team to know they at least got one at home so the Cavs give us their most complete effort of the playoffs and manage to eek out a 2-point win 114–112. Not much else to say except this Warriors team peaked at the right time and has a roster that is more talented than any constructed to this point in the history of the Association.

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So the regular season was up and down. Most nights put together a 5-play card with a mix of spreads and totals with an average juice of -110. Generally took off Sundays and had a little hiatus back in November but playing consistently throughout the season was a full on grind. In total after 604 plays, finished with 309 wins, 284 loses and 11 pushes for a net -3.4 units. Here’s a nice visual aid of the highs and the lows:

 

Peaked at +19.1u about a week before the All-Star Break but then went into a free-fall the Wednesday and Thursday pre-break. Didn’t snap the cold streak until post-St Patty’s Day, officially bottomed out at -10.6 units. Despite posting plays on 118 days, only got swept twice (once in December and once in February) and only managed to sweep three times. Best card I posted all season was February 9th, picked 5 NBA winners on a night with 5 games and split a pair of high profile college plays:

 

In general, overs were the cash cow hitting at 59% of over plays while under plays were atrocious hitting only 47%. No significant bias on the favs or dogs with both coming in around 52%.

The playoffs went extremely well until they didn’t, aside from the Cavs ML tonight finished the playoffs 83–83–0 for +18.9 units. If you learn nothing else from this post, sell the juice in the NBA playoffs and look for alt spreads when you identify your edge. Following that recipe you can hit 50% of your plays and laugh all the way to the bank. The full list of plays is posted here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fNLaqceIohND5NNZqmlEXD6ka1Yog3sLGxi7r2b4pDc/edit?usp=sharing

The progress of the playoff earnings shown here for visual reference, never went into the red and topped out at +29.45u. It’s unbelievable how good this looks if I filter out plays made on Celtics games.

 

Last funny story… all the plays were made at an offshore book that was funded using Bitcoin. If I skipped playing NBA entirely and let that BTC sit there between October and today, instead of cashing out a net +15u for the regular season and playoffs I would have had +475u. The entertainment was worth it though.

Cheers to the offseason and we’ll do it all again next year.