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A fan’s guide to betting on Warriors games

Advice for casual bettors and fans to consider before betting on a Warriors game.

NBA: Golden State Warriors-Media Day
The Golden State Warriors head into their 2018-19 season seeking their third straight NBA title.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the first preseason games tipping off this weekend, the NBA is officially back! The return of the NBA season, taken together with legal sports betting in America, also means opportunities to wager on NBA games for those that are interested.

While a majority of Golden State Warriors fans will never wager on their team, we are providing a basic guide for casual bettors or fans that are thinking about placing a wager on a Warriors game.

Don’t bet on the Warriors

Perhaps the best advice to give to any fan contemplating betting on a Warriors game is to not do it. By not placing a wager on his or her team, a fan can enjoy each win and mourn each loss in unadulterated fashion. Betting on one’s favorite team can lead to conflicting emotions such as a tinge of disappointment with an against-the-spread (ATS) loss even if the team wins. And I think it goes without saying how compromising of a situation it is to bet against your favorite team.

All of these ugly and conflicting dynamics can be avoided by simply not betting on the Warriors. For those that find themselves in a sportsbook and itching to place a bet on a Warriors game, one should always analyze each individual game as a unique wagering opportunity, but trends play an important role in informed sports betting and here we discuss some trends to consider before going to the window.

Beware the regular season

We previously discussed how the Warriors motivation for the regular season has waned, and this attenuation of enthusiasm for the regular season not only affects straight up (SU) wins but ATS wins as well.

During the 2017-18 season, including the playoffs, the Warriors covered the spread 44.1 percent of the time, 26th among 30 NBA teams, and this result was boosted by higher percentage of covers during the playoffs. The 44.1 percent was down from 53.6 percent in 2016-17 (fifth best in the NBA), 56.7 percent in 2015-16 (best in the NBA) and 56.9 percent in 2014-15 (fifth best in the NBA).

As the Warriors have covered a lower percentage of games in each of the last four seasons, one should expect the Warriors to cover fewer regular season games in 2018-19 if this trend continues. And with the Warriors typically being double-digit favorites for the majority of their games during the regular season, we urge caution from laying double-digit points in any Warrior regular season game and avoiding money line bets on the Warriors (for those that don’t know, here is a video about money line bets):

Team totals and player proposition bets

Sports betting is about entertainment and maybe some of the more fun bets to place that can win even if the team loses are team total overs and player proposition bets.

A bettor who wagers on a team total is betting that a team will score more or less points than the team total set by the sportsbook. So if the team total is set at 110 and you bet over the team total, you win if the team scores 111 or more points. And since it’s a lot more fun to root for your team to score than to not score, we suggest considering a bet on the team total over if you think the team has a good chance of putting up a lot of points.

Player proposition bets are bets offered by the sportsbook that allow a bettor to wager whether a player will have more or less points, rebounds, three-pointers or assists than a total set by the sportsbook. Again, if you are betting on the number of three-pointers Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson make or the number of rebounds grabbed by Draymond Green, it’s a lot more fun to root for them to go over than under, so consider the over on player propositions if you like the matchup.

Fans should avoid the under

If one bet every single game against the Warriors in 2017-18, they would have covered the spread 55.9 percent of the time. While an almost 56 percent win rate is profitable, this guide is not for sharp bettors purely looking to turn a profit but rather for Warriors fans who are considering betting on single games, fans who should not only avoid betting against the Warriors but also avoid betting the under.

Just like it’s no fun to root against your team to win, it’s also no fun to root against your team or any of its players to score, and for those reasons, we recommend against betting the under on Warriors team totals or player propositions.

Live betting and the third quarter

Another strategy to consider when betting on a Warriors game is to live bet, which involves wagering on odds being offered on a game after the game has already started.

As we have already mentioned, betting on the Warriors before the game starts often involves giving up a huge amount of points ATS or having to lay an unconscionable sum to win a tiny amount on the money line. But waiting for the game to start and then taking better odds can be a practical way to wager on the Warriors regular season if you don’t want to lay huge spreads.

Just like the Warriors’ regular season motivation has waned, so has their energy at the start of many regular season games. The Dubs 2017-18 season was notable for slow starts that coach Steve Kerr acknowledged and tried to address. Slow starts often lead to Warriors live betting odds being more favorable in term of ATS and money line odds. So one betting strategy is to watch the beginning of the Warriors game and if the Dubs happen to fall behind, considering a bet on live adjusted odds if you like the Warriors chances of coming back.

Perhaps the best example of why it might be most practical to live bet on the Warriors after the game has started is their dominance in the third quarter. If you’ve been paying attention at all to the Warriors’ games over the past few season, you know that the Warriors typically have an explosion during the third quarter, often after slow starts.

The Warriors’ dominance in the third quarter means that bettors looking to bet on the Dubs might have a better chance of covering when live betting on them after they are down in the first half or when betting on the Warriors to beat the third quarter spread.

Warriors dominate the playoffs

Maybe having their backs against the wall from a halftime deficit has contributed to the Warriors dominance in the third quarter and perhaps it’s the do-or-die nature of the playoffs that make the Dubs a better betting value in late April, May and June. Here are the Warriors ATS trends during the playoffs the last four seasons.

2017-18 playoffs: 12-9 ATS, covering at 57.1 percent

2016-17 playoffs: 11-6 ATS, covering at 64.7 percent

2015-16 playoffs: 14-10 ATS, covering at 58.3 percent

2014-15 playoffs: 11-10 ATS, covering at 52.4 percent

Based on the trend of the past four seasons, if one just blindly bet the Warriors ATS in the playoffs, they would have been guaranteed a profit every year. And even though the playoffs are still months away, a smart, disciplined bettor might be best served by waiting until the playoffs to consider any of the aforementioned bets on the Warriors, and we recommend the same for all Dubs fans who are considering a wager on their favorite team.