The NBA playoffs can provide great drama and excellent betting opportunities. Because of that there are a lot of people who are very excited to see the playoffs arrive, and very eager to bet on the games once they are here. If you are too eager to jump in and bet the first round playoff games, though, you can make some simple but costly mistakes. Thankfully, these mistakes are easy to avoid if you are aware of them. Here are six common ones that stand out:
Assuming the favorite can’t lose – It’s easy to get blinded by the strength of favorites in the first round of the NBA playoffs. More than in any other major sport there are a lot of mismatches in the first round of the NBA playoffs when a very strong high seed meets up with a low seed that barely slid into the playoffs. It is reasonably rare that the higher seed loses a series. It’s far less rare. though, that they win a game or two along the way. If you assume that the higher seeds can’t possibly lose a game because of their strength then you are at risk of making costly bets that lose, or missing out on potentially juicy underdog bets. The best teams in the NBA are very good,but they aren’t perfect.
Seeing an upset in every round – The opposite problem to the last one can be even more costly. There are some people who get seduced by the possibility of big underdog payoffs and they see upsets in every round. They probably know that every upset won’t happen, but they believe that enough will happen to make their bets profitable. If only it were that easy. There will certainly be upsets, but they won’t happen at an overwhelming pace. Pick your spots and bet your upsets when it makes sense to do so, but don’t get carried away – unless you like the feeling of an empty wallet.
Overvaluing home court advantage – Home court matters. It just doesn’t always matter as much as people assume it does. There are some teams that just don’t play as well at home as they should, and some home crowds that don’t get as excited by a playoff berth as you might expect – especially in the early rounds when their team is expected to be present and to perform well. There are some teams that don’t perform well on the road, but there are other who perform at an almost indistinguishable level regardless of where they are playing. You need to be sure of what the home court advantage is likely to be based on history and – not what you guess it would be based on bias and assumptions.
Betting too many games – The regular season can seem endless in the NBA, and there can be a lot of meaningless games for top teams – especially at the end of the season if they have wrapped up their seeding early on. That means that bettors can get a whole lot more excited about the playoffs than they should be because it signals the return of basketball that is thrilling and which matters. For a lot of people that excitement translates into enthusiastic betting – and overbetting. They see so many good storylines, and they want action on every series and every game. The fact is, though, that a good deal of playoff games just aren’t worth your betting attention – there is no real value to be had. You need to be very choosy in the playoffs – regardless of how excited you might be.
Becoming star struck – The NBA is a star driven league. As a general rule the better teams are loaded with stars while the lower seeds have a star shortage. It can be easy to fall into the trap of being drawn to the big names and betting on the stars. The NBA is a team sport, though, and we have seen many cases through the years of stars who just haven’t been able to perform at their full potential in the playoffs. Bet the matchups, not the names on the jersey.
Treating the playoffs like any regular season game – The NBA playoffs start as soon as the regular season ends. For a lot of bettors it can be hard to make that transition. There are a lot of small but crucial differences between the two from a betting perspective, though. The teams are more evenly matched than in many regular season games, the teams are playing at a higher intensity, teams play each other several times in a row, the public betting volume in higher – the list goes on and on. The more you can think about how the playoffs are different and how that impacts your betting the better off you are.