The NBA Playoffs start on Saturday, and the Philadelphia 76ers are in for the first time since 2011-12. Philly has outscored opponents by 5.4 points per 100 possessions this season, the fourth-best net rating behind that of the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.
The young Sixers appear ready to make some noise in the postseason, except their best players have no playoff experience. Using an average of Basketball-Reference.com’s value statistics, the top four players on the team are Ben Simmons (pictured above), Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Robert Covington, none of which have played past game 82.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, Philadelphia will be the 10th team since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger to make the playoffs when their top four players had no postseason experience. Only two of the teams won their first-round matchup, the last being the 1987 Warriors. Since 1990, for games with betting data, teams such as the Sixers with no playoff experience went 2-13 straight up and 5-10 against the spread.
The results suggest that playoff experience matters. But should bettors trust the small sample and fade the Sixers? Using Bet Labs, I’ve identified a winning betting system for postseason games that feature inexperienced playoff teams.