The NBA can never seem to achieve balance between their two conferences. As we head towards the NBA finals each year there always seems to be one conference that is significantly stronger than the other. Of course, it would be easy if it was always the same conference, but that is not the case. When one conference seems to have a clear edge we have five factors for sports bettors to consider helping guide their decision making process in the NBA playoffs and make the best bets possible:
Is it really stronger? – This seems like an obvious one, but too many people overlook this crucial concept. People will get carried away by the perception, fueled by the media and public opinion, that one NBA conference is stronger than the other and will never actually take the time to make sure that it is true. One pro basketball team can be perceived as stronger if they have more stars, play a more offensive form of game and are generally more exciting and glamorous to watch. If you look closer though, you may actually find that the less glamorous conference is just as competitive and just as dangerous in their own way. You may even find that the supposedly weaker conference actually fared well in head-to-head action. One of the easiest ways to quickly lose money in sports betting is to base your decisions on perception instead of fact.
Does public bias match strength? – The betting public always has biases; some teams that they love, and others that they don’t pay enough attention to. In general they are attracted to teams in bigger NBA markets, teams that have been historically successful and teams with the biggest stars. If those biases aren’t towards the same teams and the same conference that are actually the strongest at this point, then they could be directing their attention in the wrong place, and there could be value betting on the better conference – a dream scenario. That’s another reason why it is so important to get a sense of how strong the conferences really are.
Do matchups impact strength? – If you have watched sports for any amount of time then you know that the best and strongest teams don’t always win. The winner isn’t necessarily the most talented team, but rather the one that executed their plan best. The team that can exploit the weaknesses the other team has and can be the most focused and intense will be declared the victor. This means that you need to look beyond just which NBA conference is better, and consider which teams are playing each other and whether the strength of the conference is maintained in this particular matchup. This can be a major factor when determining which team you’ll bet on.
Is this a change from recent history? – Things can change in sports faster than the public is able to adjust in a lot of cases. If one conference has been dominant for several years then the public – especially the casual sports bettors who only pay attention in the playoffs – are going to be slow to notice that that is no longer true. If the conference that seems to be stronger from top to bottom is different than the one that the public has gotten used to seeing as strong then they could be giving the strong conference less credit than they deserve, and there could be value to be had.
Is the team a good representative of the conference? – When one conference is seen to be much stronger than the other, the betting public will assume that all the playoff teams in that conference will be strong and will play in a similar style. Of course, that isn’t always true. Sometimes one NBA team wins their conference because of luck, or they stayed healthy while other teams faced injuries, or they had a strategy that worked for them. That team might not be representative of the teams in their conference, so the fact that their conference in general was much stronger isn’t particularly relevant. This is one good reason why, in general, conference strength isn’t a factor that bettors should worry about excessively – or at least not unless the public is worrying about it a lot and creating potential opportunities. Look for value before placing your NBA playoff bets.