The NBA season has started and it’s blowing by us very fast. Before we know it, the playoffs will be starting and a new champion will be crowned. While the same kind of bets exists during the regular season and the playoffs exist, there are differences between the regular season and the playoffs which affect NBA betting.
In this article, we will discuss five main differences between the regular season and the playoffs. These differences significantly influence the odds and have an impact on the handicappers. Read on:
1 – Teams Play in a Series
During the regular season, teams play different opponents on a game-to-game basis and it’s rather rare that teams face the same opponents in back to back games. When it comes to the playoffs, the teams play in a series. The Top 8 teams per conference are paired against each other in a 1 vs 8, 2, vs 7, 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5 format. The pairs play in a seven-game series with the first team to win four games advancing to the next round to play another seven-game series. This is the format until East meets West and an NBA champion is finally crowned.
When teams play each other in a seven-game series, there are no more secrets and as the series progresses, each team already knows what to expect from their opponent. Teams will be able to fully identify the weaknesses and strengths of their opponents.
As a result, the skill or quality level of a team is more obvious during the playoffs with the more talented team having the edge and the ability of a team to adjust to their opponent becomes more important than their system which brought them to the playoffs. And because teams play the same opponent for at least four games, it is the head-to-head numbers that are more crucial to making bets rather than the usual betting trends because of the latter talks about the team’s performance in general.
2 – Coaching Becomes Very Important
The head coach and his staff always play an important role in a team’s success. The coaching staff helps the team to prepare for games during practices and they formulate the game plan and strategy to help the team not just to win games but hopes to win the title. The coach also manages the locker room and keep his team together, especially during tough stretches of the season when a team is struggling or losing games. However, the importance of the coaching staff and the head coach, in particular, is more magnified during the playoffs when the team plays an opponent in a seven-game series.
During a series, a head coach must be good at making adjustments, not just on a game to game level but also in-game. A playoff game is like a chess match and the coach which makes the right adjustments will lead his team to victory. Making adjustments include game and player management. This means a coach needs to make the right decision in using the clock, utilizing the bench and managing star players’ minutes. A playoff game is almost always a close contest and the coach’s decision plays a very crucial role in winning the game. So while you don’t pay much attention to coaches during the regular season, take a closer look at the coaches when betting during playoff games.
3 – Travel Isn’t Much of A Factor
During the regular season, teams play 41 games at their home court and another 41 games away from home. This home and away schedule leads to plenty of travel time for teams that affect the result of regular games.
A team can go on a three, four, five-game road trips which affect the team’s effectivity during games. A team can play in Houston today, travel to Memphis on their next game and then fly to Toronto for a third game.
That can be taxing on players and that can affect performance. When betting during the regular season, travel is a big factor especially when teams play back to back games or when they play consecutive games on the road.
A playoff series is different because the teams either play on their home floor or their opponent’s court. Since 2013, the format of the seven-game playoff series has been 2-3-2 for all playoff series. This means that the teams will play the first two games of the series at the home court of the higher-seeded team, then travel to the lower-seeded team’s place for Games 3,4 and 5 and then go back to the site of Games 1 and 2 for Games 6 and 7, if necessary. This entails teams will play at least two straight games in the same venue and will travel only twice during the series. If the team schedule and travel plays a part in making regular-season bets, travel isn’t much of a factor during the playoffs. Playing at their home court is.
4 – Intensity Changes
Let’s face it, the intensity of the games greatly increase during the playoffs. During the regular season, you can see betting favorites drop games to underdogs because of factors like fatigue, travel, injury, and schedule. Teams can afford those losses because the NBA regular season is 82-games long and teams can “afford” to lose some games. However, everything is on the line in the playoffs and every win counts because if a team loses a playoff series, it is eliminated from championship contention. Because of this, the energy level changes during the playoffs and the factors like fatigue, travel, injury, and schedule don’t matter because players will give their all during playoff games.
Load management has been an issue in the NBA this season with some teams resting key players in particular games. The Los Angeles Clippers and Kawhi Leonard are notorious for this. Teams justify load management as players resting injuries so as not to aggravate them. However, when you look at most of these games, these are usually games against opponents that don’t pose much threat to a team.
This strategy results in favored teams losing to underdogs because the former played minus its best player against the latter which is at full strength. Also, some teams take their foot off the gas pedal late during the season because they have either secured a playoff spot or are already out of the equation. All these lead to games that are hard to handicap. This doesn’t exist in the playoffs because both teams want to win every single playoff game. You just have to look closer at which team is more ready to win.
5 – No Mismatches
Although everyone says that the NBA is a very competitive league, the teams aren’t equal and some teams are better than the others. There are NBA teams that are loaded with superstars and there are those who have a pair of stars but a good starting unit. Then some teams don’t have superstars but have a balanced line-up. Some teams have a very deep rotation and then there are rebuilding teams who don’t look like they want to make the playoffs. These different compositions of teams create a disparity that provides for a betting favorite and underdog. However, while the favorite and underdog still exists during the playoffs, there is no such thing as a mismatch during the postseason.
For one, only the Top 8 teams per conference make the playoffs thus only the elites of the NBA are playing in the postseason. As the playoffs go deeper, it’s usually the best teams that remain and when that happens, we see NBA competition at its finest. That’s the reason why we have seen so many classic games during the NBA playoffs.
When the season enters the playoffs, every team is capable of winning the title and the deeper the playoff goes, it’s usually the higher-seeded teams that remain. So don’t be swayed by the favorites and underdogs during the playoffs. You have to analyze which team is more equipped and determined to win the playoff games. Again, the regular season betting trends don’t mean much here. It’s more of the head to head stats and which team is peaking at the right time.