You’ve made it to the end of the regular season and now it’s time for the postseason. In essence, the playoffs constitute an entirely new season where anything can happen. Although often a juggernaut of a team can go all the way, the post season often offers very tight matchups, upsets, and games that go down to the wire. How do professional sports bettors deal with the playoffs, and what should you consider as you head into this very exciting and often unpredictable time?
How Are They Feeling?
Did a team limp into the postseason with a roster that was filled with injured and beat up players? Or are they primed and ready to go with a group of guys who are ready to mix it up? The health and stamina of a team and its key players are very important in the playoffs. What makes things complicated for the sports bettor is the fact that many teams try to mask their injuries in order to prevent their opponents from gaining an advantage. That can make it difficult for sports bettors to make accurate picks.
How Much Depth?
Does the team have depth? In what areas? Where are they thin? How do they match up depth-wise with their opponents? Depth becomes hugely important in the playoffs, as role players can make a big difference in specific situations, backups can give other players needed rest, and go-to guys can be called upon to take over the game.
Consider how important these are in the postseason: a deep relief staff in baseball, a third and fourth line in hockey, a backup forward in basketball, and top notch special teams players in football. When teams are thin, it can show quickly in key situations in the playoffs when every game – and often every play – is important.
Home Field Advantage?
Who has the home field advantage and how strong is it? Home field advantage exists, especially in the NBA where courtside crowds pressing in on the play seem to influence calls by officials. Consider the home field (or court/ice) the fans, and whether their energy can have an influence on the game. One thing is for certain about the team that is at home: They have enjoyed the comforts of being home. That means they are well rested, fed, and comfortable with their surroundings. That certainly gives them at least a small advantage.
Regular Season Record?
Although when you get to the playoffs, it is a new season, it is still a good idea to see how competing teams performed against each other during regular season play. You can’t just look at the won/loss record, however. The savvy sports bettor considers why and how the results occurred. Was a key player out? Was one team on an amazing hot streak? Did an important player have a bad series or game? Were they at home or away? Does one team present matchup problems for the other?
Also, determine if anything has changed since the teams last met. Have new players been added or have key players left or been injured? Is there a new coach? Has a player come to the forefront and become a real difference maker? Is someone really hot, cold, tired, or determined? There are many contributing factors to a team’s success, and it is important to analyze each of them.
Professional sports bettors know that the postseason requires its own form of handicapping and that each sport, with its unique demands and playoff structure, must be approached in a very specific manner. A few examples include the NHL (where goaltending is key), the NFL (where defense wins and loses games), the NBA (where the battle in the frontcourt can change a series), and MLB (where starting pitching is essential).
Don’t take anything for granted. It’s the postseason and anything can happen. Do your research and handicap accordingly.