The NBA Playoff present some of the best betting opportunities for sports bettors, with intensity ramped up and teams going all out to win and advance. If you’ve been betting basketball this postseason or just jumping into the NBA Playoffs pool now, here are some handicapping tips and angles basketball will want to follow as the tournament marches into the second round and beyond:
The 0-2 trend
Entering the 2018 NBA Playoffs, one of the best betting trends around promised payouts for those wise enough to sniff it out. This situational spot saw teams trailing the series 0-2 covering the first-half pointspread of Game 3 in 28 of the last 31 possibilities the past three postseason, including a 9-3 ATS record in 2017.
Oddsmakers were wise to the trend this time around, and those teams down 0-2 in the series were heavily padded in the first-half markets. San Antonio was a 3.5-point home underdog versus Golden State is Game 3, but pegged as just a +0.5 half-time pup – a spread that should have been +1.5 or +2. Bettors faced a number of strange first-half spreads in those qualifying spots, but still prevailed with a 3-2 ATS mark for this trend. Bettors should pay attention as more 0-2 situations should appear in the conference semifinals.
For fans of conspiracy theories, this one might be for you. The Cleveland Cavaliers snuck away with a 104-100 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of their Round 1 series following a controversial call on a foul/jumpball in the closing seconds. That pretty much handed the Cavs the victory and allowed Cleveland to avoid a 3-1 series hole to the Pacers.
It is in the league’s best interest to keep a star like LeBron James in the postseason tournament, especially with a lack of star power in the East. This bias could sway some value toward Cleveland in the live betting markets if games get close. Expect some soft calls for LeBron & Co. in the final games of this series.
Pick the Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are patiently waiting for the rest of the Western Conference to arrive in the second round of the postseason after sweeping the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers. New Orleans dominated the series, holding the Blazers to an average of just over 26 points in the fourth quarter for the series.
The Pelicans covered in all four Round 1 games and extended their ATS winning run to nine games dating back to April 4. New Orleans was one of the best bets in the second half of the season, even after losing All-Star forward DeMarcus Cousins. A lot of that success is on Anthony Davis but he’s getting great support in the backcourt from veterans Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans are priced at +4,500 to win the NBA title.
The totals for the Minnesota-Houston series continue to climb, despite the teams playing Under in two of the three games so far. After the Timberwolves and Rockets played Over the 216.5-point number in Game 3 – a Minnesota win – the Game 4 total hit the board at 219. It’s no surprise that early sharp money forced this total down to 216.5.
Despite their offensive output, Houston is a solid defensive team that allowed only 103.9 points against during the season and play a controlled pace that can chew up the shot clock. If the Rockets are going to finish off this series, it won’t be winning shootout versus the T-Wolves.
As the series plays out, both teams will figure out how to counter the star players and it will be the role guys and reserves making the difference on the score sheet. That should lead to lower-scoring outputs and more Under winners, despite the firepower on both sides of the floor.