Another NBA season has come and gone and another postseason is on the horizon. With that in mind, the finals have become yet another line on sports books across the internet. Regardless of if you are rooting for a given team, as a bettor, you know that any form of betting whether in sports or on a casino floor is all about getting the biggest payout that you can and then getting out while your ahead. Below is a list of five factors to look for to best put the Vegas odds in your favor. 

1. The Three-Pointer is Money (Volume, Volume, Volume!)

If any of you reading this also bet on boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA/UFC), picture three-point volume like striking volume in a Joanna Jedrzejczyk UFC bout. Fighting and basketball are very similar in the sense that it is so fast-paced that the little jabs that the UFC champion uses (like the standard two-point buckets start to add up as well as the three-pointer) starts to add up.

At the risk of stating the obvious, getting ahead by enough threes makes the game relatively simple: Your defense just needs to do its job. It’s simply a matter from there of not taking the foot off of the proverbial gas pedal.

This won’t make for great television if you are just a fan with a little wager between friends or an executive concerned with ratings as this means that the contest was really a no-contest, a.k.a. a blowout. Although, assuming that you, dear reader, are neither of those things, your ultimate goal should always be to know your bets well enough to lock down as close to a guaranteed return on your investment (the bet you placed) as possible. 

2. Contrast in Turnovers/Fouls/Rebounds (Keep the Ball in Your Hands) 

It’s not always the case, but logic would dictate that the more often your team has the ball in their hands, the more your team produces. Basketball is more of a rough game than it appears to be as well and so if your players keep their noses clean, they will be able to volume shoot as mentioned above.

This is pretty similar to hockey. Although ejections in hockey are rare compared to NBA players fouling out, not only do you lose an asset for a given period of time (or the rest of a game if it’s an ejection) but it’s extremely hard to get any sense of the flow of a game with the stop-and-start calls from referees interrupting it. Obviously, the team that steers clear of trouble should be able to string some buckets together like multiple punches in a combination and take off with volume shooting from there.

3. Spreading Around the Offense (Threats Everywhere!)

While it’s great to have a LeBron James or Stephen Curry on your squad, battles on the hard wood are team efforts. This is a five-man game. Not everyone can be a team’s leading scorer but if you have the luxury of having great rebounders to keep the ball in your possession, it will also give teams different shots at different angles that one player doesn’t have or doesn’t see at a given point in time during a game.

What you want though is a number of men who have a history of getting double-doubles and the rare triple-doubles. These kind of players give coaches multiple options to turn to in the event of a playoff chance-threatening injury. You never want to have a single shining star on your team and then have no idea what to do without them on the floor. The name of this idea in short is this: bench depth.

4. Other Aspects of the Defensive Game (Defensive Speed, Physical Play, and Conversion)

If you’re a first-time bettor or recent fan that is just getting introduced to the sport of basketball, then the game can look like it’s simply scoring points and the only change in the action occurs when someone gets a rebound, but the sport (as discussed in point five) is much more physical than that.

If you can almost bruise an opposing player’s sternum when they come near you, they might start to panic and look for a “Plan B.” If you are faster, taller, and have a reach advantage over that opposition, then you should be a player that gets a lot of shot blocks and steals which should lead to forcing the ball down the court and in the net.

At its core, the above point is a simple return to hockey: Players can’t score the shots that they can’t take. As it relates to steals and turnovers, they also can’t score if they can’t make those attempts because they are on the wrong side of the floor for the better part of 48 minutes. If they are pressured through the entirety of the game, overtime might be the opposition’s best hope.

Eye teams that can act as the forces that prevent oxygen from getting to a flame.

5. The Mental Game (Experience is the Key)

Look at teams that have already been to the NBA Finals and either came very close to or did win that season’s championship. They’ve already been through the entire rollercoaster ride that is the postseason (after an 82-game regular season.) They know that every one of their players is dealing with some sort of injury or a number of small injuries and those players know they must power through that pain. Even the title winners have come close and lost when it mattered. They are more experienced in simply coping with these past failures to avoid mental blocks.

The key to the mental aspect of basketball as it relates to the all-important physical aspect is not as simple as shot power and accuracy but rather your speed and your cardio. Oxygen intake will result in speed, speed should result in your team holding onto the rock (see point two,) and that could also lead to players having enough energy to throw up shots that lead to a series-winning victory.

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