Every major professional betting sport in the country has a substantial playoff. Each sport’s playoff is obviously unique, but regardless of which sport it is there is some common factors that indicate likely success or failure for teams. Here are five bad signs that will tell sports handicappers if teams heading into the playoffs are in trouble regardless of their sport:
Lacking an identity – An identity is one of the biggest cliche catch phrases in sports – right up their with chemistry and momentum. There is definitely something to the concept of identity if you apply it in a logical way, though. When you look back at teams that win championships or make a deep run they have had something very strong at their core to build around. That could be a talented, charismatic star – a Jordan, Gretzky, Elway, or Jeter type. Maybe it’s a popular veteran in his last season. Perhaps it’s a rigid attention to defensive intensity, or a relentless, run-and-gun offensive approach. Whatever it is, you can be sure that a team that as success has one major actor that defines them and makes it easy for them to rally around and be motivated by. If a team seems to clearly lack such an identity then they could find it very hard to rise to the challenge when they need to and this a bad bet for sports handicappers.
Weak at home – Teams that are destined to succeed in the playoffs are – at least in all sports except the NFL – sure to play a whole lot of home games in the playoffs. Even NFL teams that win it all will most often have played a home game or two along the way. If a team isn’t able to dominate their opponents consistently at home then they simply aren’t going to succeed in the playoffs. One of the simplest signs of a very good team is one that is able to maximize their home field advantage and win a high proportion of their home games. If a team isn’t able to do that at home with any consistency then there has to be real questions about how they are going to be able to perform at home – and away, for that matter – when the playoffs begin and intensity escalates. As sports bettors know, it’s theoretically possible for a bad home team to succeed in the playoffs, but the chances are so low that this is a safe assumption to use as a starting point.
Huge difference between home and road performance – It’s important that a team can win at home, but it’s also important that they can’t only win at home. It is obviously harder to win on the road than at home, so it is totally acceptable for a team to be less successful when away from the watchful eyes of their fans. When a team is dramatically less successful, though, it’s a pretty clear indicator that there is something wrong – in short, they just aren’t tough enough. Tough teams are teams that can succeed in the playoffs, so a team that can’t win on the road is a team that I am very nervous about believing in and betting on in the playoffs.
Lack of resiliency – As verteran sports handicappers know, over the course of a long playoff run teams are going to face all sorts of adversity. They’ll have to bounce back from a really bad loss. They’ll probably fall behind in a series at some point and have to fight back. They will face injuries. Even those players who aren’t injured will be tired and banged up. The team that wins is ultimately the one that is best able to bounce back from that adversity and get back to the task at hand. You ultimately can’t know how a team will stand up in these situations until they face them, but you can often get a sense of teams that aren’t likely to come through when the going gets tough. How did the team respond during the year when they lost a key player to injury? How well did they bounce back form an ugly loss during the playoff? Did they fall into slumps during the season that were basically the result of pouting and losing focus?
Exploitable weaknesses – Every team has weaknesses – that’s inevitable. Some teams, though, are far more vulnerable to their weakness than others. Sports bettors in order to be auccessful must be able to recognize this. In the playoffs coaching staffs are intensely focused on finding the weaknesses of their opponents so they can exploit them. Some weaknesses are far from fatal – a team can adapt to overcome them. Others, though, can lead to the end of the line for the team – opponents can exploit them again and again and the team is helpless to do anything about them. Examples of potentially fatal weaknesses could include a lack of inside size in basketball, a lack of speed in hockey, or struggles against left handed pitching in baseball. If these situations exist and the opponents the team will face are well positioned to exploit them then it’s a reason for real concern for the sports handicapper..