As expert sports handicappers know, there are few things as hard for teams in the NHL or NBA than winning a seven game series. The intensity of the sports increases almost exponentially once the playoff begins, and every win comes at a big cost. For fans there is nothing better than the playoffs. They can be great for bettors as well, but only if they are properly prepared for them and the unique challenges they offer. One of those challenges is the ways in which a series changes as it progresses. The way teams approach the first game of the series is different from the fourth, and that differs again from the seventh. Here’s a look at five ways in which the games are different and how sports bettors can adjust to those differences:
Teams get more tired and banged up as the series progresses – By the time the playoffs start teams have already played the preseason plus 82 regular season games. They are already banged up and tired before things even begin. During the season teams have some longer breaks to get rested and ready, and they inevitably take it easier during some games than others. During the playoffs extra breaks for rest are rare during a series, and every game is played not just at full regular season intensity and beyond. There is no question, then, that teams will get more tired and more beaten and bruised as the playoffs progress. That’s especially a factor as teams get further into the playoffs. The deeper you get into a series, then, sports bettors have to spend more effort considering the fitness of teams, their stamina, their health, how that measures up to their opponent, and what it all means.
Rivalries and bitterness can intensify – If two teams have no problems with each other as a series starts that is certain to change by the time the series ends. Rivalries will intensify between the teams, and players on both teams, as they play each other with high stakes. It’s those personal rivalries that can be particularly interesting to bettors. If two players are all over each other during the series then it can have a big impact. It can distract players and knock them off their games, or it can focus them and serve as even bigger motivation. Either way, for the savvy sports handicapper the dynamics are both interesting and important to watch.
Teams become more aware of opponent’s tricks and tendencies – When a team plays an opponent once every few weeks or months it is relatively easy for them to keep their opponent off guard and surprise them with what they are doing and the wrinkles they add. By the time you have played a team every other night for six or seven games in a row there are no surprises. Teams get to understand what their opponent is capable of, what habits and tendencies they have, and what they like to do to change things up. The deeper we get into a series, then, the more it becomes about matchups, preparation and talent instead of schemes and trickery. In that regard, series get easier for sports bettors to handle as they progress.
Pressure changes – When a series starts teams both want to win, but at some level they also know that if they lose a game it ultimately isn’t going to be the end of the line. With each passing game, though, a loss becomes more costly, and a win gets them closer to the ultimate goal of moving on to the next round. Whether a team is a win or two away from clinching or a loss or two away from elimination the pressure is going to be incredibly intense, and it’s only going to get worse. Some teams handle that pressure very well, while others crumble under that added intensity. The closer you get to the end – or potential end – of the series, the more attention sports bettors have to pay to how teams might handle what they are up against. It’s surprising how often a very good team can throw away a promising season because they can’t handle the pressure. Equally, lower seeded teams that pull off upsets often do so because they seem to be totally oblivious of that pressure.
Public has more to react and overreact to – The further into a playoff series you get, the more time there has been for the media to write and talk about the series and the storylines, and more time for the public to hear that analysis and decide what is important. Thankfully for sports bettors that analysis is not always relevant and accurate. In fact, it’s often not. The further into a series we go, then, the better the chances that the sports wagering public is overreacting to situations that aren’t entirely relevant, and the better the chance as a result that there can be value found by smaret sports handicappers in unexpected and unnecessary line movement.