The last thing an NBA team wants when they start a playoff series is to lose the first two games. That puts them into a hole that can be difficult to recover. An 0-2 deficit is not the end of the line, and many good basketball teams have found themselves finding such a challenge and overcoming it, but it certainly isn’t ideal. Some NBA teams use the setback as a real motivating factor. Other teams get frustrated or scared and things only get worse going forward. Bettors need to get the best sense of which reaction is more likely for a team so they know where the value is – getting that right can prove to be very profitable for a sports bettor. Here are five factors to consider in your handicapping when trying to determine how a team might respond to an 0-2 playoff series deficit in the NBA:
Where did they lose? – The first two games of any playoff series are played in the home arena of the higher seeded team. If a team lost the first two games on the opponent’s hardwood, then, that’s not ideal, but not surprising – they are playing against a good team in that team’s building. It’s when a team loses two in a row on their home court, that you have to be concerned. They have worked hard to earn home court advantage, and it should be a big advantage. They have likely lost to a team that has been less successful than they have been in the regular season. They just shouldn’t lose both games. If they have, then you likely need to be concerned, and before making any bets you need to look deeper into what is causing the issues.
Did they lose both games in the same way? – There are a whole lot of ways for a team to lose a game. If I had my choice I would rather see a team lose the two games in different ways. Perhaps in one game they struggled to shoot, missing from the field and botching foul shots, while in the other they just couldn’t quite keep up in a high scoring game. If a team is struggling in the same way in both games then they either have lasting issues that could continue to be a problem, or they have issues that the opponent is effectively able to match up against and exploit. As a sports bettor, neither possibility gives you a lot of confidence going forward.
Are they statistically performing up to expectations? – You need to look at how the NBA team typically performs in key statistical categories – both offensively and defensively – and how that compares to their performance in the first two games. If they are struggling compared to their normal levels then you need to look to see if there are good reasons – they can’t shoot because the opponents are extremely strong defensively or perhaps their opponent is dominating under the basket, for example – and if the situation is likely to continue as it is or improve. If the team is performing up to expectations but still losing then you need to consider if the problem is just that they aren’t good enough, or if there are other reasons for the problem – like an opponent that is shooting extremely well, hitting from the paint, from three-point land and everywhere in bewteen. Again, the key is to consider whether what is happening is likely to be sustained, or if things are going to change and lead to a different result on the court.
Are the top players carrying their load? – In the NBA playoffs it is absolutely crucial that the stars in the game are playing like stars. Basketball is very much a team sport, but those stars have to lead the way and set the tone for their team. If they aren’t playing well then you need to look at factors like how the opponent is matching up against them, their health, their typical playoff performance, their recent form, their body language on the court and the bench, and so on.
How is the public responding? – Sometimes the public will react to a slow start in a series like the world has ended. They will assume that the series is essentially over, and that the team that is behind is doomed. Other times the first two games won’t have a real significant impact on how they view the teams and how they are directing their bets – either because they still like the chances of the team that is behind, or because the result is what was widely expected. As always, the most successful NBA bettors will have a sense of what the general public opinion is and what impact that it is having on how the lines are set and how they are moving. Those who make expert sports picks, then know how to utilize that information when betting.