Coaches are very significant in the NBA, and never more significant than in the league playoffs. Being a coach in the NBA is a thankless task because of the attitude of the players and the lack of job security in most situations. For sports bettors, a good coach can be worth his weight in gold, and a bad or inconsistent coach can be costly and frustrating. Here are five tips to help bettors judge NBA coaches in the playoffs:
Late-game management – In the NBA playoffs teams are generally reasonably well matched to each other – especially as the playoffs progress. The teams are playing at full intensity as well – at least more often than they do in the regular season. That means that it is more likely that the games are going to be close heading to the closing minutes. That, in turn, means that coaches are going to be called on to manage the final minutes of games more aggressively, and with more on the line, than they may be during the regular season. If you add to that the intense pressure to win games in the playoffs then the coaches are really under scrutiny. There are some guys who are absolute naturals at managing strategy, the bench, the clock and the court play and winning games late, and other guys who just always seem to make the wrong move and get outcoached when things are most on the line. If there is one part of a coach’s game that you most need to focus on when handicapping NBA playoff games ats this is it.
Ability to re-focus team – Setbacks are inevitable in the regular season, and they are almost always going to happen at some point in the playoffs to teams. What you need to get a sense of is how good the coach is at moving the team past the problems, getting the focused on the task again, and returning to their winning form when on the hardwood. To get a sense of this just look past the schedule to see the worst losses the team suffered. How did they rebound from those losses in the game immediately following the loss? Did their form in the subsequent games improve, or did their problems continue? The better a team is at forgetting a loss ever happened the easier the coach is to trust in the playoffs.
Adjustment and adaptation – When a team faces a very different opponent in consecutive games they need to change their playing style and adapt to the challenge. That is the responsibility of the coach to do that. The need to adjust to different teams isn’t a factor in the playoffs, but adaptation and adjustment is still more important than ever in the playoffs. Because a team is playing the same team so many games in a row they need to be able to change up their approach or they will become predictable. They also need to respond to the changes that the opponent makes during the series. By looking at how the coach was able to adjust during the regular NBA season when his team played two very different types of teams in consecutive games you can get a sense of how they may be able to handle the challenge in the playoffs.
Reputation – There are some NBA coaches who have tremendous reputations. They are stars of the game, and they attract betting attention because of their name and their accomplishments. Phil Jackson is an obvious example of this. There are other coaches who the public just doesn’t care about, or who they have a negative opinion of. As much as the stars on the court and the depth of the team, the coaches can have a big impact on how the lines are set in the playoffs, how they move, and what impact that has on where the value is. It’s therefore very important that bettors have a good sense of the reputations of coaches, and the strength of the public feelings about them.
Respect of players – It’s very hard to truly judge the relationship between a coach and his players if you aren’t in the locker room or at practice. You can get some clues, though, from paying attention to what goes on around the team on the court and around the bench. What is the body language of the players like when they talk to the coach during games? Off court, do the players talk about the coach during press interactions? Is that talk positive? Is the coach secure in his job, or is his security in question? The more of a sense of the relationship you can get, the better off you’ll be when handicapping these games.