The NBA Playoffs are getting underway and for the most part, they have almost nothing to do with the regular season. We annually hear the postseason is a different animal and that is particularly true in the NBA where intensity really picks up, especially on defense.
Here is a list of factors to consider for picking the overall champion, series betting, game by game against the spread and totals.
Betting The NBA Champion
In a past article written here at ScoresandStats.com, we covered this topic. Since 1970, only one team that was not a Top 3 seed in either conference has won the championship (Houston 1995). Look at those six teams to make your bet.
Deciding A Book
Matchups, Matchups, Matchups
The most important aspect for series or game betting is comparing the teams. Does one team do something superior to the other or someone have a weakness that can be exploited? That is where every sports bettor should start.
This is discovered in various statistics relating to shooting percentage (offense and defense), points per possession (offense and defense), rebounding and turnovers. This can also be found in head to head matchup for the season. Did one team dominate the other? If so, how did that happen and why? If you as the basketball bettor can identify those edges, you will win with far greater consistency.
Star Power and Players Off The Bench
When NBA teams win championships, besides being a Top 3 seed, it comes down to having three scorers on a nightly basis. With rare exception, one player is an All-Star, another is among the best at his position and the third adds an element that is needed, which could be scoring, defense or rebounding on any given night. If you study the great teams of the past like the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls and more recently Golden State, everyone team had those stars.
The other element that arises in a seven-game series is sometimes the team's best players have an off-night or each team cancels out the other with their own stars. That is where having bench players that can score or play sensational defense that can turn a game around really matters. Know who these players are and you can pick up a winner or two others might not have looked for.
Coaching Matters In The Playoffs
There are various opinions on this topic, but this handicapper feels it's important and here is why. During the regular season, head coaches have to think about managing minutes, keeping players happy, travel and other factors. In the postseason, it is about one opponent per series and generating the right game plan and adjusting game by game.
This is professional basketball in its purest sense, one contest at a time, seeking edges. And it's just not about the head coach as many assistants over the years have found a weak link that made the difference.
The best most recent example of coaching being the difference was when Avery Johnson of Dallas took a 2-0 lead over Pat Riley and Miami in 2006. Riley made offensive changes and Johnson the Mavs had no answers and for just the third time NBA history, the Heat won the championship in six games after losing the first two contests.
How to Bet Point Spreads
Understanding Game By Game For Sides and Totals
There used a system or theory called - The Zig-Zag - and smart bettors took a result and made money betting against what just occurred. Oddsmakers have made that largely irrelevant by adjustments.
Today, in betting the NBA Playoffs it is ignoring blowouts and understanding the oddsmakers line and trying to surmise what a side or total means after a one-sided outcome or if the total was off by 10 or more points. If it's a Game 2 or Game 4 in a series, where the competing teams are playing in the same location and despite the side or total being way off in the previous conflict, the lines barely moved, oddsmakers are considering that outcome an outlier and standard handicapping methods apply for the next game up.
One last area to consider is second half wagers on sides and totals if the first half is way off on either. The books are not putting out numbers for your enjoyment, they expect to be right, so if a side or total was dramatically off and the second half number on either is significantly different from what the first half figure was or should have been (if you missed), betting the other way from the first half result is often a profitable strategy.