Commonly known as the post season, the playoffs involve 16 teams – the top eight from the Western Conference and the top eight from the Eastern Conference.
There are three conference rounds in the playoffs, which are followed by the NBA Finals, which feature the team that makes it out of the playoffs from each conference, playing off for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
And it’s great fun to have a punt on. Apart from the typical head-to-head markets, you can take a chance on what the result will be in the series, players who lead the series in statistical categories and even turn the series winners into multi bets, or parlays/accumulators. And don’t forget, you get the usual markets on each and every game throughout each series.
We’ve broken down all the information you need for betting on the NBA playoffs and compiled it below:
How the NBA playoffs work
Each team is seeded by using their record in the regular season.
The team that has the best record in each of the three divisions (Atlantic, Central and Southeast in the Eastern Conference and Northwest, Pacific and Southwest in the Western Conference) in each conference is declared division champion.
The three division champions, and then the team with the best record of the remainder, are seeded one through four by their records.
It means that division champions can actually qualify higher than teams in other divisions with better records.
The rest are then sorted by record, before they take on each other in the first round of the playoffs, or the conference quarter finals.
A little like this:
1 v 8
2 v 7
3 v 6
4 v 5
Each of those match ups play a seven game series, with the goal being to win four games. So a team can win 4-0, 4-1, 4-2 or 4-3.
The four winners of the seven game series’ then advance to the second round of the playoffs, or conference semi finals.
There are two conference semi finals match ups in the East and two in the West.
Two winners of those seven game series’ will then proceed to the conference finals.
These, again, are played over seven games and pits two teams in each conference against each other, for a chance at safe passage to the NBA Finals.
Home court advantaged in each series is decided on record, and the series is played using a 2–2–1–1–1, which means the team with home court advantage hosts games 1, 2, 5, and 7, while the opponent hosts games 3, 4, and 6.
Betting head-to-head on the NBA playoffs
Head-to-head betting is the quickest and easiest way to bet on the NBA playoffs.
All you need to happen for your head-to-head bet to get up is for the team you’ve placed your bet on to win the series.
A 4-0 whitewash is obviously the preferred method of achievement here. It leaves nothing to chance, gives your team safe passage to the next round of the playoffs and puts money in your wallet.
Often, in the first round, some lowly teams can nick a game or two from their more fancied opponents, but 4-1 or 4-2 is still ok.
It’s when it’s tied at 3-3 and you need your team to take out a do or die game seven that really puts your heart in your throat. It can be both agonising and exhilarating, with your money riding on every moment. These clashes often happen closer to the finals, usually in the conference finals, where teams are far more evenly matched and often trade wins on their home floors.
An example of a head to head bet is:
Oklahoma City ($1.79) vs. Memphis Grizzlies ($2.05)
This was the match up from the first round of the Western Conference quarter finals in 2014, pitting the second seeded Thunder up against the seventh-placed Memphis Grizzlies. With the Thunder losing gun point guard Russell Westbrook to a knee injury in the first game of the series, it was left to MVP Kevin Durant to take over and, while he just did enough, it was a closely fought series that ended in a 4-3 result, the Thunder riding home court advantage to the next round. So if you’d backed the Thunder, you’d have collected.
NBA playoffs exact series result betting
This is where it gets interesting.
Here’s where you need to predict not only who will win the series, but also how many games each team will win during the series.
Here’s an example of an exact series result bet:
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trailblazers: Portland to win the series, four games to two.
The Rockets enjoyed home court advantage in this first round series of 2014 and were favoured to win, but star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard proved too much for Dwight Howard and James Harden. The Trailblazers upset Houston by winning the two opening games on the road, before the Rockets hit back at the Rose Garden to make it 2-1. But Portland was good enough to make it 3-1 in the next game, before Houston won on its home floor and then the Blazers closed it out in the sixth game, giving them a 4-2 series win.
NBA playoff series number of games betting
This bet takes the head-to-head factor out of the bet.
So all you need to do is predict how many games will be played in the series, between four and seven.
For a four game series bet to get up, one team has to win every game, five games would have to be 4-1, six games, 4-2, and seven games, 4-3.
What is a player props bet on the NBA playoffs?
Player props bets give you the chance to focus in on your favourite player and ride him to financial gain.
Usually they are centred around what player will lead a particular statistical category for the series, particularly points, assists and rebounds.
An example of a player props bet on the NBA playoffs is:
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers most series rebounds
DeAndre Jordan $1.93
With big Aussie Andrew Bogut on the sidelines with injury, this might have been the bet of the playoffs in 2014. Jordan, a giant, high leaping 7 foot centre had his way with the Bogut-less Warriors, finishing with an incredible 106 rebounds across the 4-3 series, in favour of the Clipps. His effort would have provided a return to punters, with the series’ next best rebounder getting nowhere near his huge total.
The NBA playoffs: where magic happens
It’s one of the world’s great sports and the NBA playoffs put the world’s best basketballers on the big stage.
When that happens, great things are bound to follow. Here are some amazing stories and statistics about the NBA playoffs that will amaze you:
The wonderful San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have appeared in every playoff series since 1998. That’s an amazing 17-year stretch. Dallas had done it 11 times in a row, but they dipped out in 2013.
Bizarrely, the Syracuse Nationals, who became the Philadelphia 76ers, had a 22-year run where they never missed the playoffs from 1949-71.
Those invincible Spurs of 1998-99 won a ridiculous 12 straight games in the playoffs, giving them the longest streak in NBA history, before ultimately taking the title with a brilliant 15-2 finish. Shaq and Kobe’s 2001 Lakers went 15-1, giving them the best record ever.
It took until the 1994 season for an eighth-seeded team to knock over the top seed in the first round of the NBA playoffs. That year, the Denver Nuggets caused a massive boilover, knocking over the highly fancied Seattle SuperSonics 3–2.
Since then, it has happened only four other times.
The 1999 New York Knicks rolled the Miami Heat 3–2, on their way to the NBA Finals, The ‘We Believe’ Golden State Warriors, led by Baron Davis, got past the Dallas Mavericks 4–2 in 2007, Memphis beat San Antonio in 2011, 4–2, and the 2012 Philadelphia 76ers took advantage of Derrick Rose’s injury to defeat the Chicago Bulls, 4–2.