NBA Playoff

NBA Playoff Betting Tips


NBA bettors face many challenges when wagering on regular season basketball action. Due to the grueling 82-game season, they have to account for intangibles such as travel schedules, fatigue and player motivation, along with all of the basic stats.

Once the playoffs start, bettors are faced with a whole new set of headaches since the wagering dynamics change a bit. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't still win with NBA playoff betting - you just have to know how to adjust your approach. Taking this into account, let's review some tips for betting on the NBA playoffs.

1. Take Regular Season Matchups with a Grain of Salt

A common line of thinking by novice NBA playoff bettors is to heavily review regular season matchups between opposing teams. For example, if the L.A. Lakers were playing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, you could look at how they fared against each other in regular season contests. Unfortunately, you can't really put much stock into these matchups because, as discussed before, grueling schedules have a big impact on performance. So if the Lakers lost the regular season series 3-1, it could just be because they faced the Spurs in the middle of tough road trips.

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2. Be Careful with "Must-Win" Games

In many playoff series, there is a juncture where one team seemingly must win to stay competitive in the series. So if the Indiana Pacers had the Bulls down 2-0 heading to Game 3 into Chicago, this would be a "must-win" contest for the Bulls. However, just because Chicago will be playing extra hard to avoid going down 3-0 doesn't mean they're necessarily going to win or cover the spread. Going further, nerves and pressure could force the Bulls to play even worse in the must-win game. So don't automatically give a bias to the losing team heading into these important contests.

3. Don't obsess over Home Court Advantage

It's obviously better to be playing a playoff game in front of the home crowd. But the mistake that NBA bettors make here is obsessing over home teams when making their picks. What's important to understand here is that oddsmakers have already considered home court advantage when creating their lines. So by putting a major emphasis on home teams, you're essentially not gaining anything.

4. Always account for Experience

With only a few exceptions, most young and inexperienced teams don't win in the playoffs. The intensity and pressure are far greater in the postseason, and a seven-game series can turn into a learning experience for unprepared teams. That said, you should always look at a core group's previous playoff experience before wagering on them. If a team has at least three years of recent postseason experience, it'll give them a big edge over non-battle-tested clubs.

5. Watch for Big Changes between Games

Because NBA teams face the same opponent over and over again in a playoff series, you always have to be prepared for big changes between games. For example, if the Milwaukee Bucks got run out of the gym by the Miami Heat in the first two games, you might see the Bucks utilize a much slower approach in Game 3. Assuming you like to make over/under wagers, you could opt for the under in anticipation of a slower contest. Likewise, Milwaukee might have a strong chance of covering the spread in a slow-tempo game.

Perhaps the best overall tip you can take away from NBA playoff betting is to gain experience and keep learning everything you can. And remember that the NBA playoffs are always a lot more fun when you're a knowledgeable bettor who's placing winning wagers.