When the first round of the NBA playoffs starts, it’s like the First Four games in college basketball or the one-game Wild Card games in baseball. They’re fun to watch and have betting action on. But to help you decide who is going to win the Larry O’Brien trophy as NBA champs (players call it “The Larry”), they have little to do with it.
The actual tournament starts when we are down to eight teams, as the pretenders can go on vacation and doing what adults do under the age of 35 do, shop at Whole Foods, have food delivered from anywhere and consume lots of wine.
At this point, if you want to place a futures bet against the NBA odds as to who will win – The Larry – it’s rather simple. Here are your choices.
Eastern Conference: Milwaukee – Toronto – Philadelphia
Western Conference: Golden State – Denver – Portland
How is this writer/handicapper so sure these are the teams? Easy. In the history of the NBA, with its first champion crowned in 1947, only twice has a team not seeded 1,2 or 3, ever taken home the hardware. Those teams were the 1969 Boston Celtics (4th seed), who won their 11th title in 13 years to end their historic run and the 1995 Houston Rockets (6th seed), who had won the championship the year prior but suffered many injuries before getting healthy late to go back to back.
That’s it. In fact, a case could be made against the 76ers and Trail Blazers as only six No.3 seeds have ever won a title.
Betting The Playoffs Game By Game
The NBA Playoffs from this point forward are about matchups. What are the strengths and weaknesses of every team.
You can start by going to as many websites as possible and read up on each team and almost always they will have some sort of analysis that can make you understand both teams more thoroughly.
Next, is knowing the statistics, covering shooting percentages (offense and defense), points per possession (offense and defense), rebounding and turnovers. This is a strong general overview, but it also pays to know what happened in the head to head matchups. Did one team hold a significant edge in an area or two and if so, is that applicable to today? If you can uncover these advantages you will win more than average bettors making NBA picks.
Once the series starts, it is imperative to know the how’s and why’s of each outcome and look to understand what the odds mean for the next game. With so few games and at least one day between each contest, you have ample time to prepare.
Coaching Is Extremely Important From Here On Out
Opinions are varied about the importance of coaching in the NBA, but this handicapper feels it really matters and here is why. In the regular season, head coaches have to think about keeping players happy making sure they get their minutes on the court, travel and other factors they have to concern themselves with. In the postseason, it is about one opponent, one series at a time. The mission is coming up with the right game plan and making adjustments contest by contest. This is NBA basketball in its purest sense, one game at a time, trying to exploit your opponent. This is not limited to just the head coach, as many assistants over the years have found a weak link which helped their team win.
The correlation is similar to a non-starter coming off the bench and being a key difference game. The same goes for coaching, where the smarter coach places his team in the best position to win and over the playoffs, his club wins a couple of games they should not otherwise.