Every year in the NBA there is at least one team that looks good during the regular season that just doesn’t perform once the postseason starts. Once they are eliminated you can often look back and see the signs that pointed to what happened. If a sports bettor could spot those signs before the postseason starts, though, then they could really be in position to capitalize – especially if the public really likes the pro basketball team in trouble. Here are five potential warning signs down the stretch of the regular season that tell you a NBA team could be in trouble once the playoffs start and to keep in mind when making your NBA picks:
Reliance on fading younger players – A rookie in the NBA is inevitably going to feel a lot of wear and tear down the stretch of the basketball season. Through high school and college they have never played more than 35 or 40 games in a year. The scrutiny surrounding those games was far less, and they slept in their own beds after most of them. They also didn’t practice nearly as much, and didn’t do as much game preparation. Now they are making millions of dollars a year to play on national TV and in front of 20,000 people in the arena, and they have to do it 80 times a year. It is incredibly rare to see a young player who doesn’t see their productivity on the court decline later in the season as a result of the strain – especially if they have been playing significant minutes from the start. We’re seeing a lot of players joining the league now who can be big contributors right out of the gate. If a team has had success on the hardwood due in part to the string play of a rookie or two then it could be tough to trust them down the stretch as that rooke faces the reality of their new life.
Questions about health of starters – In the regular season some teams can do a remarkable job of playing without a starter – even if that starter is their biggest star. Time and again we have seen NBA teams put together a strong record while their star has been on the sidelines. In the playoffs, though, it is much harder for a team to shine at less than full strength. If you don’t believe that a starter is going to be ready for the playoffs, or that a starter is playing but is not at full health and isn’t likely to return to full health in a hurry, then that’s a sign of real potential trouble.
Inconsistent rotation – By the time a pro basketball team is nearing the end of the regular season they should have a very good sense of how they perform their best. They should know who their best players are, how much playing time players need, and how best to use the assets they have. If the team hasn’t settled into a consistent rotation by the end of the season, or if they keep changing up their rotation, then that’s not a good sign. The more a team is changing things by switching out guards or forwards, the less confident they can be heading into the postseason.
Unexplainable performances – It is inevitable that even the best teams are going to lose games. They’ll even lose games that on paper they absolutely should have won. What you want to be on the lookout for to be a winning NBA handicapper, though, is a team that is losing in unexpected ways more often than they should. Anything is fine if it happens once in awhile. If it happens more than that, though, then it starts to be a concern for bettors. When a team regularly plays at well below their capabilities then it brings their focus and chemistry into question. Unfocused teams with less than ideal chemistry can be in real trouble heading into the playoffs, and it can be very hard for a team like that to flip a switch and get back on track again.
Sagging stats – If a NBA team isn’t shooting as well as they used to, isn’t rebounding like they used to, or isn’t winning the turnover battle like they used to then it’s a concern. It could be that they aren’t feeling as good as they used to, they aren’t playing as hard, or that opponents have gotten a better sense of how to play against them. Whatever the reason is, if a team is sagging statistically by missing the hoop or the battle in the paint as the season draws to a close then it is a reason to be concerned. The added value for expert NBA sports bettors here is that the public often won’t notice these changes unless they are dramatic or well publicized. That means that this can be a great way to gain an edge over the betting public through just a bit of homework.