If you are like most bettors, the NBA season approaches so fast that it’s here before you know it. The reason it sneaks up on us, is we are locked into the action on the gridiron.

The regular-season games simply don’t mean as much as they do on the gridiron. It’s hard to give it your full attention early on. It’s why you hear a lot of people say the season doesn’t really start until Christmas Day.

I can understand how you might struggle to fit your NBA handicapping in during football. However, it’s not something I’m going to completely ignore.

Handicapping Teams Who Played In Previous NBA Finals In Season Opener

I believe there’s value in betting the NBA odds early on in the year. Oddsmakers aren’t going to be locked in on the hardwood either with football in full swing. There’s going to be some weak lines you are going to want to take advantage of.

The focus of this article is taking a look at the performance of the two teams who played in the previous year’s NBA Finals in their first game of the season.

I’ve put together two tables below. One strictly looks at the history of the team who won it all. The other provides the same information, but for the team who was on the losing in.

Defending Champions

SeasonChampsSiteOpponentSpreadTotalFinalATSO/U
2018-19WarriorshomeThunder-8.5TBDTBDTBDTBD
2017-18WarriorshomeRockets-9228.5121-122LOVER
2016-17CavaliershomeKnicks-10206117-88WUNDER
2015-16WarriorshomePelicans-10213.5111-95WUNDER
2014-15SpurshomeMavericks-3.5203101-100LUNDER
2013-14HeathomeBulls-5.5187.5107-95WOVER
2012-13HeathomeCeltics-7186.5120-107WOVER
2011-12MaverickshomeHeat+418994-105LOVER
2010-11LakershomeRockets-7196112-110LOVER
2009-10LakershomeClippers-1120699-92LUNDER
2008-09CelticshomeCavaliers-6181.590-85LUNDER
2007-08SpurshomeBlazers-13189106-97LOVER
2006-07HeathomeBulls-4.518966-108LUNDER
2005-06SpurshomeNuggets-7.5189.5102-91WOVER
2004-05PistonshomeRockets-6.516787-79WUNDER
2003-04SpurshomeSuns-6181.583-82LUNDER
2002-03LakershomeSpurs+3184.582-87LUNDER
2001-02LakershomeBlazers-819398-87WUNDER
2000-01LakersawayBlazers+318696-86WUNDER

Runner-Up

SeasonRunners-UpSiteOpponentSpreadTotalFinalATSO/U
2018-19CavaliersawayRaptorsTBDTBDTBDTBDTBD
2017-18CavaliershomeCeltics-3.5212.5102-99LUNDER
2016-17WarriorshomeSpurs-8211.5100-129LOVER
2015-16CavaliersawayBulls+4197.595-97WUNDER
2014-15HeathomeWizards-4.5190107-95WOVER
2013-14SpurshomeGrizzlies-6188.5101-94WOVER
2012-13ThunderawaySpurs+2.520284-86WUNDER
2011-12HeatawayMavericks-4189105-94WOVER
2010-11CelticshomeHeatPK19088-80WUNDER
2009-10Magichome76ers-9.5195.5120-106WOVER
2008-09LakershomeBlazers-819696-76WUNDER
2007-08CavshomeMavericks+3.518474-92LUNDER
2006-07MaverickshomeSpurs-3184.591-97LOVER
2005-06Pistonshome76ers-8187108-88WOVER
2004-05LakershomeNuggets-2.519389-78WUNDER
2003-04NetsawayRaptors-317987-90LUNDER
2002-03NetshomeHawks-9.5184105-94WOVER
2001-0276ersawayTimberwolves+9.5178.574-83WUNDER
2000-01PacersawaySpurs+918385-98LPUSH

Betting Takeaways: How to Wager on Defending Champs & Runner-up

Since the opening of the 2000 season every NBA Champion has opened up the following season at home.  This makes sense because they have their ring ceremony right out of the gate in front of the home crowd.

However, I feel like maybe that is a disadvantage.  The champions could be a little distracted as they have gone just 4-8 ATS the last 12 years.

The runner-ups on the other hand might be coming into the season with a chip on their shoulders.  They covered eight straight at the pay window from 2008-09 to 2015-16.

You can also get yourself up to speed on the current season by checking the latest odds to win the Finals. You will also want to look at the expected win totals for every single team.