Betting on regular season NBA games can quickly become boring, but when the playoffs roll around, a new level of excitement fills the air. The best players rise to the occasion while the lesser players shrink into the background.
Here are my top NBA betting tips for the playoffs:
The main advantages that you have when wagering on the NBA playoffs are the entire season of statistics you have access to and the intense media coverage available during the series. You also have access to all of the historical data from the previous year’s playoffs.
Of course, the thing that separates winning sports bettors from the long term losers is what each does with all of this information. You need to learn how to sift through all of the details and find the things that are important and ignore everything else.
Betting on Individual Spread Games
Most bets made during the NBA playoffs are bets with or against the spread. A spread bet is either giving a number of points (when the number has a minus sign) or getting a number of points (when the number has a plus sign). The team getting the points is the underdog.
Using all of the details and statistics from the regular season can help you develop your own lines and expected outcomes. When you find games that offer different lines than the ones you set, you may have found profitable games to bet on.
One thing I see in the playoffs, much more so than during the regular season, is the importance of momentum. Teams go on streaks during the regular season, but good teams really pick up steam during the playoffs. The NBA and the television stations that carry the playoff games would like all of the series to go six or seven games, but the dominant teams want to beat their opponents in four or five games so they can rest for the next round of games.
An example of this is when a higher seeded team starts the series at home and loses the first game but comes back to win the next three games. They’ll be playing at home for the fifth game, and they have just won three in a row. This is a game where I expect the home team to win going away. It isn’t a 100% lock, but it’s a strong indicator.
NBA Playoff Moneylines
Moneylines are when you just pick the team who is going to win the game. This always sounds like it is the simplest way to bet, but you always have to bet more when you pick the favorites than you’ll get back.
For example, on a heavy favorite, you may have to wager $350 to win $100. Many games may seem like they are sure things, but if you track these types of games, you’ll find that the sportsbooks do a good job of setting the moneylines so you can’t just pick the best team and lay the extra money blindly.
When you’re considering whether or not to place a moneyline bet in the NBA playoffs, you need to look at the same things you look at to decide on a bet with the spread. The higher seed in the series when playing at home wins the highest percentage of the time, but when you have teams that have had star players miss extended periods, sometimes they just sneak into the playoffs. These teams tend to play much better than their seeds. These teams can offer value when the sportsbooks get sloppy with their lines.
NBA Playoff Series Wagers
While many bettors focus on individual games, you can place wagers on which team will win each series at most sportsbooks. These are basically moneyline wagers, though you can also find prop bets on how many games a series will go or how many games a particular team will win.
The first round usually offers the largest moneyline gaps when you have the number one seeds playing the number eight seeds. You also have close match ups in the first round with the number four and five seeds facing off. But every round offers interesting possibilities.
When you bet on individual series, you need to take a close look at historical data from previous playoffs along with the statistics from the current season. Some teams simply play better in the playoffs than they do in the regular season. A prime example of this is the Spurs during the last 10 years or so of Tim Duncan’s career.
You also need to consider the age of the core group of players as well as if the main group is the same as in previous years.
Another consideration is the relative strength of the rest of the conference. I have seen many times when the East or West has one or two dominant teams. Of course there are always dangers when betting heavy favorites on moneylines, but when there are two dominant teams in a conference, you can often win some fairly easy money by betting on each of the two teams to win their series until they meet in the conference finals.
Just like every game you prepare to bet on, you need to use every possible thing that you can find to help you make the best possible wager. When you consider the NBA playoffs you have as much information as you will ever be able to find, with the possible exception of the Super Bowl or World Cup.
Take advantage of this and make sure you have enough time to sift through all of the extra information. Creating a nice run of winning picks through the playoffs can turn a losing season into a winning one or top off a great year by adding to your profits if you had a good regular season.