NBA Playoffs Betting Tips, Strategies & Trends to Consider

NBA Playoffs Betting Tips, Strategies & Trends to Consider
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Quick Tips

The much anticipated 2020/21 NBA playoffs tipped off on Tuesday, May 18th. Whilst there won’t be nearly as many spectators in attendance due to the pandemic, that doesn’t mean fans won’t be watching.

There will be plenty of people taking in the action on their televisions and on streaming services like the ones you’ll find at the best basketball betting sites.

Speaking of top bookmakers, here is a quick look at Bet365’s odds to win this year’s NBA Championship.

Bet365’s odds to win this year’s NBA Championship

Brooklyn Nets21/10
L.A. Lakers9/2
Utah Jazz11/2
L.A. Clippers11/2
Milwaukee Bucks15/2
Philadelphia 76ers15/2
Phoenix Suns20/1
Miami Heat25/1
Denver Nuggets33/1
Dallas Mavericks35/1
Portland Trail Blazers50/1
Atlanta Hawks90/1
New York Knicks100/1
Boston Celtics100/1
Memphis Grizzlies225/1
Washington Wizards275/1

With more teams in the mix than usual, basketball punters have never had so many potential wagering opportunities to choose from. There’s no time like the present for punters to experiment with a new NBA playoff betting system. But before you put your NBA playoff strategy to the test, you need to know that the tournament format is a lot different from the traditional setup.

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NBA Betting Trends

General NBA Betting Advice

2021 NBA Playoffs - Series Betting Preview

20 Teams To Think About Instead of 16

The biggest difference is that 20 teams qualify for the post-season which is four more than we normally see. The first round of the tournament is a play-in. With the first to sixth placed teams in each conference having secured their playoff berths, the seventh to tenth place teams will battle it out in a single-knockout play-in for the final two spots.

The seventh-placed team will go up against the eighth-placed team whilst the ninth and tenth-placed teams face off. The losers will be sent packing whilst the winners will face each other to decide their playoff-round seedings. The winner of that match will play the conference’s number one seed whilst the loser will face the second seed.

Confused? Don’t worry. Once the play-in round is over with, things will resume in the traditional manner with a nice and square 16-team format.

NBA Playoff Brackets

The first round of the NBA playoffs will have the first-place team in both conferences going up against the loser of the play-in finals. The second-placed team will face the winner of the play-ins. Then you’ll have the third-placed team taking on the sixth-placed team whilst the fourth-placed team matches up against the fifth-placed team. In the next round, the highest remaining seed will play the lowest remaining seed and the middle seeds will clash.

This will bring us to the Conference Finals where the top remaining seed will hold the home-court advantage. Then it will all come down to two teams who will battle it out for the big prize. The team with the best regular-season record will host the opener and have the home-court advantage. If the teams have the same record, it then comes down to the team who won the regular-season series between the two.

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NBA Playoff Betting Trends to Consider

If you are thinking about trying out a new NBA playoff betting system, you might want to think about a few promising NBA playoff betting trends that have emerged over the past few years. Even though it’s not a great idea to wager based only on trends, some of these look very solid.

NBA Playoff Betting Trends to Consider

Between 2008 and 2017, excluding game sevens in which both teams can close out, favourites were 118-58 straight up (SU) and 98-77 against the spread (ATS) when given the chance to move on to the next round.

If you look deeper into those 176 non-game seven matches, you’ll find some more intriguing betting trends. Road favourites looking to end a series went 39-13 SU and a stunning 36-16 ATS. This shatters the myth of home dogs being a good bet in the playoffs. At least over the past decade or so. On the flip side, home favourites trying to clinch a series win went a lop-sided 53-14 SU. However, they were only 35-32 ATS.

Back Home Favourites in Games 1, 5, and 7

In a seven-game series, the first, fifth, and seventh matches are the most important ones to win. Winning game 1 gets a team out of the gate with an early lead. In a game 5, the series will either be 3-1 or tied at two apiece. Of course, it’s winner-take-all in game 7. Between 2008 and 2017, home favourites were very profitable in game 5s when the series was tied at two games each. They were an astonishing 45-10 SU and a money-making 34-21 ATS.

Home favourites weren’t too bad in series openers either. They compiled a record of 89-34 SU and 71-52 ATS. As for home favourites in those do-or-die game 7s? Well, they went 25-8 SU and 19-14 ATS.

What should all of this tell you? If you want to make favourites a part of your NBA playoff betting system, you might want to think about betting on them in games 1, 5, and 7, especially when they are at home, and especially when they are in a closeout situation.

What Teams Have Home-Court Advantage in the First Round?

With the play-in round still underway at the time of writing, we don’t yet know who the number one and number two seeds in each conference will be playing. However, we do know that they will have a home-court advantage. In the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers will have home-court advantage.

In the Eastern Conference, it will be Philadelphia, the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Brooklyn Nets. This opens up some interesting possibilities. Before getting any further, Let’s go back to Bet365 and check out the odds to win the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.

Odds to Win the Eastern Conference Championship

Brooklyn Nets1/1
Philadelphia 76ers13/5
Milwaukee Bucks10/3
Miami Heat12/1
Atlanta Hawks25/1
New York Knicks35/1
Boston Celtics45/1
Washington Wizards175/1

There’s no doubt as to which team is the overwhelming favourite even though they finished second in the conference, but if you’re into this whole backing the home favourite thing as part of your NBA playoff betting system, and you can’t resist a good long-shot, then one team in particular might grab your attention. Listed at 35/1 to win the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks will enjoy home-court advantage in the first round against Atlanta.

The Dark Horse

The Knicks are 8-2 SU and 8-1-1 ATS versus the Hawks since the start of the 2018/19 season. That includes a record of 3-0 SU and ATS this year. In short, New York makes for a tempting bet to make it out of the first round even though the series odds are very even. The point of all this? With a few lucky bounces and a lot of help from the gambling gods, 35/1 might be worth a go. Getting near-even money on them to win the first round certainly is. Of course, it’s the 76ers, and Brooklyn to a lesser extent, who best fit the home-favourite NBA playoff betting system in the East.

Odds to Win the Western Conference Championship

Los Angeles Lakers23/10
Los Angeles Clippers13/5
Utah Jazz11/4
Phoenix Suns7/1
Denver Nuggets11/1
Dallas Mavericks16/1
Portland Trail Blazers16/1
Memphis Grizzlies90/1

In the Western Conference, it appears that oddsmakers are partial to the Lakers, Clippers, and Jazz although Phoenix is getting a bit of respect too. Of those four teams, the Los Angeles Lakers are the only team that won’t be opening their series at home. In fact, they will not enjoy home-court advantage in an opener no matter how far they go.

Phoenix and Utah are both intriguing propositions. The Jazz compiled a home record of 31-5 SU and 23-12-1 ATS. Meanwhile, the Suns were 27-9 SU and 23-13 ATS on their home turf. Those teams are tough to beat at home. The Clippers are also in the mix with a home record of 26-10 SU and 21-15 ATS. Whilst the Lakers, who won’t have home-court advantage this year, were decent on the road this term with an SU record of 21-15, they were only 18-17-1 ATS.

The Dark Horse

One of the wild cards in the loaded deck that is the Western Conference is the Denver Nuggets who are currently listed at 11/1 to win the conference. Their 25-11 SU home record was pretty impressive. Their 16-20 ATS record not so much. However, you advance to the next round by winning, not by beating the spread. And Denver has shown that they know how to win, especially at home where they will start their series against Portland as a small favourite.

Dating back to the start of the 2019 regular season, the Nuggets have fared well against the Blazers going 5-2 SU including their 2-1 SU record against them this season. They also happen to have a record of 10-3 SU against Portland over their last 13 home games. Even though the Blazers were one of the best road teams this year, the Nuggets are a team with betting value. It’s a long-shot, but they could have home-court advantage through the playoffs if things go their way.

Even if they don’t, their season road record of 22-14 shows that they are serious road warriors. They definitely have value as a near-coin-flip to win their round one series as well as at 11/1 to win the conference.

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NBA Playoffs Betting Tips

The NBA playoffs are an exciting time for basketball punters. They will have plenty of live and pre-match betting options to choose from as well as a nice selection of futures and other propositions. This leads us to one of the most important betting tips for NBA playoff of all.

Don’t get too crazy!

The urge to take on more gambling action is hard to resist when you have so many things to bet on. Between the pre-match and in-play betting opportunities, it’s easy to go overboard. If you are making pre-game wagers, try to narrow your focus. That will increase your chances of making level-headed bets and a profit. If you want to place live wagers, anticipate certain scenarios and pounce on them only if they present themselves. And whatever you do, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.

Do Your Homework

You could flip a coin, throw a dart, or read tea leaves to help you pick a winning bet. But that isn’t a sound NBA playoff betting strategy. If you want to give yourself the best chance of making an informed bet that wins, you need to study each game closely. There are so many different angles to look at that we couldn’t possibly list them all here. You need to study the individual players, head-to-head histories, offences, defences, team strategies, and on and on.

You might not come to a conclusion as to which team will cover the spread or if the game will go over or under the posted total, but you may pick up on something else. Perhaps you’ll notice that a certain player does particularly well against a certain team. You won’t have a tough time finding a prop bet to match your discovery.

Don’t be Afraid to Bet on Underdogs

Even though you may have an NBA playoff betting system that revolves around favourites, you shouldn’t shy away from pulling the trigger on an underdog if you’ve done your homework and feel that it’s the right pick. Underdogs come through sometimes and they can be quite profitable.

Take Full Advantage of Sportsbook Bonuses and Promotions

Taking advantage of bonuses and participating in promotions should be a part of any punter’s wagering strategy. There are countless reputable bookmakers that offer a variety of incentives such as free bets, risk-free bets, boosted odds, cashback, and bonus cash. Even though a C$5 free bet may seem like small potatoes, claiming a bunch of them can turn those bland spuds into a prime rib feast with all the trimmings. You may even be lucky enough to find a no-deposit bonus. Claiming bonuses can be the difference between losing money and turning a profit.

Bet at a Site that Offers Live Streaming

Live betting has exploded in popularity over the past number of years. Not only is it very exciting, but it also creates unique and potentially profitable betting opportunities. If you want to give yourself the best chance to find success in live bet situations, following the action in real-time on a live stream is immensely helpful. You can get a better feel for the match’s flow, a team’s form, and a better overall sense of what’s going on. Many bookmakers offer live streaming products that provide punters with informative insight related to betting. Live betting and live streams go hand-in-hand.

Keep a Level Head and Keep it Fun

You’ll win some, and you’ll lose some. The important thing about betting on NBA playoffs or any other sport is that you have fun doing it. Remember that betting should be merely seen as a form of entertainment. Sure, you should relish your victories, but you should also be able to shrug off a loss. Don’t go on tilt and start chasing your losses.


The cash out feature has become a standard fixture at the world’s top bookmakers. Simply put, this allows punters to close their bets before the end of a match. Like most other gambling-related things, there are pros and cons to using cas hout. If your team is winning, but they look like they are about to collapse, using the cash out feature will ensure your bet wins. You might not make quite as much profit, but it’s guaranteed cash.

Alternatively, if the team you bet on is losing, and things keep getting worse, you can use the cash out feature to at least get a portion of your stake back. It probably won’t be much, but it’s better than nothing.

Get the Best Odds

Why would you risk C$10 to win C$9 when you could wager that same C$10 on the same bet to win C$9.50? Whilst the difference doesn’t seem like much, it can really add up over time. Shopping around for the best odds is an essential part of any successful NBA playoff betting system. Doing so will ensure you win more money when you win your bets whilst minimizing your losses when things don’t go your way. Be sure to take advantage of odds boost promotions too.

NBA Punters are in for a Wild Ride

The start of the NBA playoffs is a great time for basketball punters to test their NBA playoff betting strategies. It also presents a prime opportunity to try new online bookmakers and get in on some wonderful welcome bonuses, reload bonuses, and ongoing promotions. With incentives like free bets and risk-free bets, putting your wagering innovations into practice won’t cost you anything if you fail. Bonus cash, enhanced odds, acca insurance, and cashback offer also go a long way toward making your NBA playoff punting more profitable.

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Series Betting Preview

Brooklyn Nets (1/2) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (9/5)

Brooklyn and Milwaukee finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. The Nets are expected to at least reach the NBA finals this year and enter the series as the favourite to win the NBA title at 17/10, whilst the Bucks are now at 5/1 to win it all. Unsurprisingly, Brooklyn made quick work of Boston with a 4-1 series win. Milwaukee’s sweep of the Heat was even quicker.

For those interested to find out how the home favourite angle worked out, the Nets were 3-0 SU and ATS at home in round 1. They went 2-1 SU and ATS in Game 1, Game 3, and Game 5. As for the Bucks? They dispatched the Heat by winning four straight after dropping the first game. They were 4-1 ATS including 2-1 ATS at home as favourites and 2-1 ATS in games 1, 3, and 5.

Even though the Nets finished higher in the standings, it was the Bucks who took the regular-season series. One interesting thing about this series matchup, which will commence in Brooklyn, is that the Bucks have been terrible road dogs. It’s not like they are in that situation too often. Since the start of the 2019 season, the Bucks are 2-6 SU and ATS as a road dog. They haven’t covered in that situation in their last five straight tries. Digging a little deeper we find that the Bucks are 2-7 SU and ATS in their last 9 playoff appearances on the road as a dog.

The Nets were money SU at home as favourites, but they didn’t light it up ATS. However, they covered their last six straight as home faves to close out the year. The Nets are loaded with high-end talent and undoubtedly the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. But if anyone goes the distance, and even pulls off an upset, it’s the Milwaukee Bucks.

Utah Jazz 3/4 vs. LA Clippers 11/10

The LA Clippers didn’t make things easy on themselves, but they finally eliminated the Mavericks in 7 games. They will now face the mighty Utah Jazz in a bid to earn a spot in the Western Conference Finals. This will not be an easy task as the Clippers will go up against a well-rested Utah squad that finished the regular season with a league-best record of 52-20. Utah was nearly unbeatable at home winning 31 of 36 matches.

The Clippers’ didn’t have a strong finish to the regular season and they dropped the first two games of their Round 1 series versus Dallas. However, they kicked it into gear going 4-1 SU and ATS in the last 5 games. For their part, the Jazz have continued to play well picking up six wins and six covers in their last seven games. While they have been winning at home lately, Utah hasn’t exactly been lighting it up ATS. They are just 2-3 ATS over their last five at home and 5-8 in their last 13 at home.

Utah has played well against the Clippers over the past couple of years. They went 2-1 SU and ATS this season and are 9-3 SU and ATS in their last dozen meetings overall. In their last seven games as home favourites against LA, the Jazz are 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS. This series should be wildly entertaining.

Phoenix Suns (8/15) vs. Denver Nuggets (8/5)

It was a long shot, but the Phoenix Suns didn’t have much trouble sending the Lakers packing. Meanwhile, the Nuggets came through as small favourites against the Portland Trail Blazers. Can the Suns pull off another upset? They’ve been playing well of late, but they have struggled as a home dog which they will probably be to open this series. As for Denver, they scored 120 or more points in four of their five games against the Blazers. They have been somewhat of an Overs machine over the past month.

If you want to see a great example of domination, just check out Denver’s head-to-head record against the Suns over the past few years. Since 2016, the Nuggets have prevailed in 16 of their 19 meetings going 12-6-1 ATS. Furthermore, Denver is 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 visits to the desert. And once again, the Over has been a predominant feature.

It’s also worthwhile mentioning that Denver took the season series 2-1 SU and ATS. Denver won both road games and lost at home. Granted, both teams are quite different than they have been in the past, but it just seems like Denver has Phoenix’s number. They are certainly worthy of a series wager at 8/5.

Philadelphia 76ers (8/15) vs. Atlanta Hawks (8/5)

Atlanta’s round 1 defeat of the New York Knicks wasn’t too surprising. But the way they did it raised a few eyebrows. What was billed as a fairly even series ended up being a lopsided affair with Atlanta cruising to a 4-1 series win. They are now 11-2 SU and 9-4 SU in their last 13 games overall. Some might even go so far as to call them “Hotlanta”. As a point of betting interest, the Under is 7-0-1 in Atlanta’s last eight games.

Speaking of hot teams, the 76ers appear to be on a mission. In their last 17 games overall, Philly has compiled a stellar record of 14-3 SU and 11-6 ATS. That’s money in the bank. Philadelphia has also reeled off 12 straight wins as a home favourite going 8-4 ATS in those games. The Sixers won the season series versus Atlanta 2-1 SU and ATS. Philly absolutely destroyed Atlanta in their two games in Philly.

Atlanta doesn’t have what you’d call a high-powered offence, but their defence is stout. On the flip side, the 76ers have loads of offensive threats, but their defensive play sometimes lacks. Philadelphia should be able to make it out of this series, but it might be a little closer than many think.

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