The NBA Playoffs, simply put, are awesome. In the next two months you’ll see more action than Mark Sanchez after an SNL afterparty. That being said, even more action will take place in the Vegas Sportsbooks who are salivating at the thought of two straight months of unpredictable, competitive basketball. For those of you who hope to crack the books, here are a couple of tips going into the trenches.
1. Home court actually means something
In the playoffs, every game has a college basketball atmosphere: its loud, rowdy and sold-out, the only difference is the fans are older and drunker. Home court is huge in the NBA Playoffs. For example. the Utah Jazz are the 5 seed with a 53-29 record, but they are 32-9 at home and just 21-20 on the road. Their first round opponents are the Nuggets, who boast a 34-7 home record and 19-22 record on the road. Look at the match-ups, and though bookmakers will build these factors into the lines, try to get the best value out of your wagers by investing in teams with a good track record.
Jazz: 48-29 against the spread, 23-17 at home.
Thunder: 26-15 ATS on the road.
Celtics: 12-28 ATS at home.
Magic: 46-34 ATS overall.
2. They’re called money players for a reason.
Although their teams might not have the best records against the spread, going with the superstars in the playoffs is always a safe bet because a.) they will play most, if not the entire, game and b) they’re giving %110 every night. Lebron James, D-Wade, Carmelo, Kevin Durant, Kobe at %110 is unfair for most opposing teams.
3. Whenever there is a game in Phoenix, take the OVER.
I don’t care what the record says (Suns are 19-21 on the over/under at home), there is something about that building in Phoenix that just inspires offensive onslaught. Maybe it’s the purple lights or maybe it’s the desert heat, but you just don’t want to sit there hoping that Steve Nash & Co., who have 4 players that shoot better than 42% from three, won’t score. Defense is ramped up in the playoffs, but the Suns have too many weapons.
4. Bet against the Celtics at home.
Don’t be intimidated by this team. This team is the polar opposite of what they were in 2007 when they won the championship. They’re older, they play worse defense, and Rasheed Wallace has cursed this team with his laziness. Boston is 12-28 ATS at home this season, and the spark they’ve been waiting for all season never kicked in. They could get past the Heat in the first round, but Lebron and the Cavs will eat them alive.
At this point they’re probably not sleepers, but the Atlanta Hawks and the Denver Nuggets are two teams that if they start playing well can beat the best teams in the league on any night. They both have a young core, but two seasoned veterans at point guard (Mike Bibby and Chauncey Billups, respectively) that can control games and manage the clock. In certain match-ups, don’t be afraid to take them to win straight up with a favorable payout possibility.