Any sports bettor will tell you wagering on the NBA Finals is tough. Both teams are obviously in top form after having beaten some good teams to get to where they are. The teams aren’t particularly familiar with each other because the schedule limits their interaction during the regular season. Both basketball teams probably have at least one superstar caliber player who is capable of leading his team to victory almost single-handedly. On top of all that, public attention is higher on the NBA than at any other time of year, so value can be hard to find – especially if you like the favorite. In order to give yourself the best possible chance of making a profit in the finals you need to not only make good betting decisions, but you also need to limit the mistakes you make. Here are four common NBA Finals betting mistakes to be avoided:
Getting sucked in by hype – The media covers the Finals more intensely than any other games during the year because it’s what the public cares about most. They will enthusiastically talk about the big stars, the coaches, and the other storylines that are most compelling and attractive. Sports bettors have to remember, though, that the media is in the business of getting viewers and readers, and selling ads and papers. They are not in the business of giving totally objective analysis, focusing on the truly important aspects of a series, or accurately handicapping what is likely to go on in the series. Because of their access to NBA players and coaches the media can be a valuable source of handicapping information. It’s important, though, that you view that information objectively and not buy into the hype that they are spreading without questioning it first.
Not looking beyond the stars – When NBA teams have big stars the public likely won’t look much beyond those stars when making their decisions. While the stars are a very significant part of the Finals they are far from the only story. It’s also crucial to look at issues lie the effectiveness and health of the other starters, how the starters match up, how effectively they can cover the stars, how deep and effective the benches are, how the benches are used, and so on. Professional basketball is very much a team sport, and the team that wins the final will ultimately be the one that is the better team from top to bottom, not the one that has the better star.
Underestimating the significance of coaching – Earlier in the playoffs I don’t necessarily think that coaching is that significant. The coaches know their teams and are clearly able to do what needs to be done to achieve success. The finals are different, though. With the pressure, the scrutiny, and the quality of the opponent coaching can be a major factor in determining which team will win. If that wasn’t the case then Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson wouldn’t have been so ridiculously dominant. Quite often there isn’t a significant mismatch in coaching in the finals, so it doesn’t matter. Sometimes, though, there is, and successful handicappers need to be aware of that mismatch and what it could mean when it comes to betting lines and point spreads.
Looking at playoff records, not who they have played against – Sometimes one basketball team will have had a dramatically more impressive run to the finals than the other. Perhaps they only needed to play 12 or 13 games to get to the finals while their opponent player 17 or 18. Winning quickly is impressive, but it ultimately isn’t particularly significant. What really matters is not how many games it took them to win series, but who they had to beat to get there. If the team that played fewer games played a significantly easier schedule to make the finals then the importance of the accomplishment is muted. Instead of focusing on the records of the teams n the playoffs look at who they have played, the types of matchups they have had to deal with, how effectively they have handled those matchups, and so on. Sports bettors also want to focus on how a team has fared compared to expectations. If they played 12 or 13 games and were heavily favored in all then it’s not particularly impressive – they have just done what was expected of them. If they played that many and were underdogs in a significant portion of those games, though, then there is really something to take note of and use in your NBA handicapping.