After just one Game 7 in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs, two of the four semifinals matchups – and potentially three, depending on what James Harden has up his sleeve – have gone the distance.
Both the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers forced Game 7s on Thursday with commanding 11-point victories on their home floor. Now those respective series head back to Toronto and Denver, where both underdogs will need to overcome serious odds to advance.
NBA betting doesn't favor road teams. The Blazers travel to Denver with just +188 odds of advancing past the Nuggets, while the Sixers go north of the border as +210 underdogs to knock off the Raptors and advance to a Conference Finals date with the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
Home Teams in Game 7s Win Big
But there’s good reason to believe the respective No. 2 seeds in each conference are going to advance. There have been 133 Game 7s in NBA history, and the home team has a remarkable 105-28 record (.789 win percentage).
Much of that is to be expected. After all, the league’s best teams are always great at home and playoff environments make road victories more difficult to come by than regular season affairs.
But it goes deep than just wins. Over the last 10 postseasons, home teams are 25-8 (.757) in Game 7s. In their 25 wins, the average scoring margin was 12.86 points. In those 33 combined games, the average final score was Home Team 98.75, Road Team 91.27.
That’s an average difference of 7.5 points, obviously a large number considering the two teams had previously each won three of the six matchups leading up to that Game 7.
Considering that 7.5-point scoring margin, both the Nuggets (5.5-point favorites in Game 7) and Raptors (6-point favorites) make for good bets.
Trail Blazers at Denver
The Nuggets enter Game 7 as the league’s most dominant home team. They’ve used that Denver altitude to their advantage, going an NBA-best 34-7 in the regular season. Their 10.6 home net rating was second best in the NBA, and their defense at home (105.2, fifth in the NBA) was considerably better than on the road (110.6, 17th).
Against a dominant offense like the Blazers, the Nuggets playing comfortably in their home arena should slow things down and allow them to defend better.
Nikola Jokic is averaging 26.8 points on 55% shooting, 14.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists in the series and triple-doubled in Denver’s Game 7 victory in Round 1 over the Spurs. Jamal Murray shot 47.5% at home this season compared to just 40.0% on the road.
The Nuggets are a smart bet at -230 to advance to the West Finals.
76ers at Toronto
The Raptors play better with Drake in attendance. No, we don’t have an actual statistic for it but Toronto has been great in its own building.
They went 32-9 at home in the regular season and had the NBA’s 7th best net rating. What’s more, the Sixers were below .500 on the road in the regular season and had the NBA’s 16th best net rating (-2.5), below teams like the Pelicans and Magic.
Only the Bucks have had a better home net rating than the Raptors in the playoffs thus far. Remember, too, that Toronto has the experience advantage. Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka all have Game 7 experience. That’s something the Sixers’ top guys can’t say.
The importance of knowing how to play a Game 7 can’t be understated. Combine that with homecourt advantage and the Raptors make for a smart play at -265 on 888Sport.com.