It seems like there is always a very surprising upset win by a serious underdog in each round of the NBA playoffs. Sometimes there is more than one. For NBA bettors these games are hard to figure out. Will the win give the underdog confidence and momentum going forward, or will it motivate the favorite and strengthen their focus? Is the result a sign of bigger issues, or just a result of circumstances? In short, should you trust the favorite in their next game in the same way you did before the upset? Here are six factors to consider when coming up with an answer to what NBA team you should bet on in the next playoff game:
How did it happen? – When you take a close look at any loss you can almost always find one or two defining reasons for the result. Did one team shoot particularly badly from the court and the foul line? Were they getting clear shots or contested ones? Did the winners shoot particularly well, hitting a lot of three-point shots? Did the losers get in foul trouble early on? Were they unusually lax on defense in the paint or outside? Did key players sit out for an extended period of time? Did the winner use a different approach to defensive or offensive play? Was the tempo of the game different than what we normally see between the teams? The more effort you put into understanding why the result occurred, the better. This means you’ll have a better chance of understanding whether it can happen again. It can take some creativity and determination to get to the root causes, but it is worth it.
Is health a factor? – One of the biggest causes of an upset like this can be injuries – whether major ones that can keep players out of the lineup or lesser injuries that limit a player in the lineup. Perhaps an injury happened during the game that had a big impact on the flow of the game. It is imperative that you are sure to understand the injury situation in the games. It is not enough to rely on injury reports either – NBA teams aren’t always responsible about updating those. You need to look at game summaries and local media reports to get the best sense of what is really going on and whether the issues that impacted the game are likely to be an issue again. If the issues are going to continue then you need to look at how well the team has adjusted after injuries and what kind of depth they have at the affected position. This is very important when it comes to placing a winning bet on the next playoff game.
Where is the next game? – This goes hand-in-hand with the location of the upset. If the upset happened on the home court of the underdog and the next game is on the home hardwood as well then the team could get a massive boost from their energized fans. If they have to play on the road in the other team’s arena though, then it could be hard for them to pull off the same thing twice.
How resilient were they in the regular season? – You can learn a lot about how a favorite NBA team will respond to a blowout loss by looking at how they responded in similar circumstances during the regular season. Even the best teams in the league will get blown out once or twice during the long season in games they should have won. Did they bounce back strong in the next game, energized and focused, to make sure it didn’t happen again? Or did they pout and question their confidence? The extra pressure and intensity in the playoffs could amplify these issues the team had during the regular season.
What had happened before the loss? – Some upsets are truly unexpected – they seem to come from nowhere. More often, we have seen clues to what has happened before it happened. Perhaps the underdog has played very well or the favorite has had issues. Or maybe the underdog has been able to exploit matchups in the paint or on the perimeter or provide challenging schemes. Maybe the underdog had lost games but had been playing particularly well. You can’t just look at the single game in isolation.
How does the public respond? – I’m a big believer that you always want to look at how the public is betting on NBA playoff games and what impact that is having on the way NBA betting lines are set and how they move. In the playoffs, the betting volume is higher and this is even more important. In this situation, what is most important is whether the public is splitting their bets between the two teams in about the same way as they did before the upset, or if they are backing the underdog more than they have in the past. If there is a change in public behavior then there is a chance for real value – especially if you disagree with the opinion of the public. So handicap carefully and make your next NBA playoff bet a winner.