Handicapping the NBA Playoffs

The NBA playoffs go on forever, which means that sports bettors have ample opportunity to place bets and make a lot of cash as a total of 16 teams battle for the championship. If you’re thinking that handicapping the playoffs is the same as handicapping the regular NBA season, you’re wrong.

The playoffs create their own unique season and offer some major challenges to sports bettors, including point spreads that are tougher to beat, over/unders that are difficult to assess and home court advantages that can be huge. Here are some tips for handicapping the playoffs.

Although most betting systems seems to be hit and miss, there is one that you may want to try for the NBA’s second season. It’s known as the Zigzag System, which dictates that you bet on the team that is most likely to seek revenge in the next game. It is usually the team that has lost the last game. The belief is that they will be very motivated, and that the winning team from the last game will be complacent.

This theory may sound ridiculous but during the course of 15 playoff seasons it is more than 100 games over .500! As far as betting systems go, it is one of the more reliable ones. But using it without utilizing matchups or common sense in terms of injuries, depth and talent can be dangerous for the sports bettor. When two teams are very close in terms of talent and matchups or when a team really does have a very strong revenge motive, it can be very useful.

The problem with using stats from the regular season for the NBA playoffs is that the playoffs are a whole other animal. The best of the best are playing against one another in the playoffs. A player who has been hurt in the regular season may struggle at this time if their injury continues to nag at them. Teams that lack depth are at a real disadvantage and those that have three major stars are at a distinct advantage.

There are a few areas that become important for the smart sports bettor in the playoffs that are not usually considered in the regular season. These include talent versus must win situations, a public adjustment versus situation adjustment of the line, pre-existing team philosophy versus coaching changes and alterations, and past playoff trends versus current playoff trends. Let’s consider each of these.

Talent is huge in the playoffs but there are certain NBA teams that have less talent but the right mix of players and leadership that can carry them through the playoffs, stretching a series to five, six and seven games. Certain pro basketball teams will simply go to another level and surpass much better opponents in the second season.

Lines can be adjusted for two reasons—because too many people are betting on one team or due to the change in status of a player. In the playoffs it is usually the former. Thus, don’t start readjusting your handicapping for this type of adjustment. If the move has to do with some sort of change on one of the teams, what can be called a smart money move, then by all means pay attention to it and consider it when you’re handicapping.

Each club has a preexisting team philosophy that can butt up against coaching changes and alterations during the playoffs. A NBA team may embrace a certain system or method of play but it may need to be adjusted due to injuries, because of odd matchups or simply out of desperation. Some coaches will drastically alter the way a team will play by having certain players sit out and by relying on others who have played secondary roles.

Finally, there are past playoff trends versus present trends. You’ll often hear statistical trends stated related to home games, teams that win the first game in a series and clubs that have lost the first three. Be wary of these historical trends. Often they will play out again but this is not always the case and you must try to determine when a new trend is being established and what it means.

There’s one other very important thing to consider about the NBA playoffs, and to a degree, it should guide you as you make your picks. These are seven-game series. Some teams are well equipped to play in these marathons and others are not. Some basketball teams have aging players who get worn down and out and others have a lot of young legs and arms that are extremely resilient. Sometimes a top team will simply fall to a much lower seed due to this fact. Take the nature of the seven-game series into account when betting on each game.

The primary thing that every sports bettor must do is to treat the NBA playoffs as what they are—an intense second season where every team will pull out all of the stops and unlikely heroes may appear. Carefully handicap each and every game, looking for any trends and assessing changing conditions and you can find success betting on the NBA Playoffs.

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