Late-Season NBA Tips

by Wayne Root

Pay Close Attention To Late-Season Changes
Smart, expert sports bettors know that it pays to be aware of what the betting public is likely to think and do in a particular situation because that will have an impact on how the lines are set, how they move, and where the value can be found. With my 35 years of experience, I can single handily tell you the Oddsmakers line on the next game of the one just played based on the previous play and how the public perceived the final result. This is especially true heading into the playoffs at the end of the year. The public thinks that teams are scripted by the NBA for playoffs seeding and who generates the best TV money. I certainly pay attention to that.  But more importantly, seeing an improvement late in a playoff-borderline team making a late season charge is certainly different than a team in fourth with no chance to move up to the number three seed, for solid information. 
Understanding Momentum 
There are all sorts of factors that can lead to a winning streak such as a dose of increased confidence, good health, an easy schedule, and luck among them. To put too much faith in momentum is to believe too strongly that what has happened in the past has a direct bearing on what will happen in the next game. That makes momentum a dangerous concept for NBA sports bettors. Understand what the changes are and look for solid reasons for better play for example. Let’s certainly not ignore negative momentum as internally there could also be reason to go against a certain team. There are usually glaring reason for such shifts in players play or a team’s performance. More important than momentum are matchups. Some teams play better at a slower tempo while other love the transition game. Certain teams defend the perimeter neutralizing the opponent’s three point shooting. 
Look For Road Results

 One of the simplest ways to measure how tough and talented a NBA team really is is to look at their performance on the road. This is an even bigger factor in the playoffs. Studies have shown that the biggest reason that home court advantage exists is the crowd. With Covid restrictions during the regular season, take that into account. As we move into post-season, the NBA may admit fans. That momentum of having crowds finally would probably help the home underdogs more than anyone. The officials normally are well aware of the crowd, and are not interested in making that crowd angry, so they subconsciously give the home team some advantages. In the playoffs the crowds and the fans are more enthusiastic and vocal. That means that home court advantage is going to be tougher to overcome in the playoffs than it might be in the middle of the regular season. A team that appears to have a lot of momentum on the road is one that is probably tough enough to not be bothered by the extra challenges the playoff offers when they are on their opponent’s hardwood. That will increase their chances of playoff success, and therefore makes them more interesting for sports bettors depending on how big a favorite they are for that particular game. 
When a Good Team is Struggling 

Let’s first find out why a good team is struggling late in the season. Are their players being rested? Was there a “key” injury? Is their regular season standings set to where they can’t move up in seedings? We always find out the “why”. More significant than a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs is the opposite – a total absence of momentum. Some strong contenders will perform at less than their potential down the stretch because they are looking forward to the playoffs and have little left to accomplish in the regular season. Sometimes, though, the struggles of a good team will go well beyond just trying to save themselves. If a team is losing games they should be able to win, performing well below expectations statistically, and bickering or exhibiting a bad attitude in the press, then it could be an important sign that the team isn’t as ready for the league playoffs as they should be, and may not be as strong in the playoffs as their record would suggest. This is especially true for the lower seeded team that barely make the playoffs. They may have extreme talent but are very young and are fighting among themselves. 
Nice Betting Value Is Apparent 
It usually happens in the first round of the playoffs. Some team that has a mediocre over-all win/loss regular season record may be playing their best basketball. Teams that were 15-26 the first part of the season may have for some important list of variables completely did an about face and finished 26-15. That’s the key stat!! If a team has been shooting better from the field, defending better on the perimeter and under the basket, or rebounding better recently then they did on the whole year then it’s quite possible that they have taken their game to a new level. Perhaps they are more comfortable with each other, or their coaches have found a better way to get through to them, or they are healthy. That’s the value of great coaches. They know the season is long and they’ll use all 82 regular season games to adjust the lineups and find the right chemistry. Whatever the reason, this type of momentum is very valuable for bettors because it can lead to a situation in which a team is better than their record, and therefore better than a lot of casual bettors will assume them to be. That could lead to nice value for the basketball bettor.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2022 Al McMordie's All Rights Reserved.