NBA Betting Tip: Should Bettors Consider Postseason Experience?

NBA Betting Tip: Should Bettors Consider Postseason Experience? article feature image

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LA Clippers guard Lou Williams

  • Postseason experience matters for teams in the NBA Playoffs, but does it matter for bettors?
  • Using Bet Labs, we test this idea and share a profitable against-the-spread betting trend.

Conventional wisdom says that playoff experience matters. The postseason is a different animal and players who have been there before are more capable of adapting to the pressure filled environment.

Research done by FiveThirtyEight has shown that teams with playoff experience tend to win more postseason games than you’d expect based on their regular season performance.

But winning isn’t covering.

Since the 2005 postseason, teams that did not make the playoffs the previous year have gone 191-183-8 (51.1%) against the spread (ATS) when facing an opponent that did, according to Bet Labs.

Venue matters as casual bettors tend to overvalue home-court advantage in the playoffs. Road teams that weren’t in the postseason the year before are 104-91-4 (53.3%) ATS when matched up against an opponent that was in the playoffs the prior season.

While already profitable, we can make this system even better.

The optimal situation to bet these non-playoff squads is in the first round:

Since 2005, road teams without playoff experience are 74-47-4 (61.2%) ATS in the first round when matched up against an opponent that made the postseason the year before. Teams with playoff experience might win more often, but that leads to inflated lines and creates value for teams that haven’t been in the postseason recently.

We have five new playoff participants this year: Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons. Each team faces an opponent that was in last year’s postseason and will be a match for this system.

First Round Matches

  • Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors (Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, TNT)

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