How much is home court advantage worth in the NBA Playoffs? As often happens in the world of sports betting, the answer is “it depends.”
Generally speaking, home court is worth three points in the NBA. If two dead-even teams played each other in the playoffs, each would be a three-point favorite at home. Well, unless the road team lost the first two games…then had its back to the wall in its home opener. That host might be as much as -4 or -5 at home against is virtual equal.
You see, situation matters. Oddsmakers and sharp bettors through the years have noticed that the “home opener” for a talented team in a must-win situation often sees peak outliers. That host plays GREAT in front of a raucous crowd. The visitor with a 2-0 series lead basically punts after falling behind so it can be ready for Game Four…and may also later punt Game Six with a 3-2 series lead to be at peak freshness for Game Seven.
When handicapping hops back and forth between sites in any series (which you’ll be doing between now and mid-June!), it’s best to focus more on how the home/road dynamic fits with the mindsets of the involved teams. Ask yourself these questions…
▪ Is the host in a “backs-to-the-wall” situation (home court could matter a lot), or likely to fall back to earth immediately after a peak performance (it might not be worth anything at all)?
▪ Is the host so over-matched as a distant seed that home court won’t give it much of a chance anyway?
▪ Is the visitor an elite seed looking to get its series over with quickly so it can rest up for the next round?
▪ Is the visitor showing signs of fatigue that might hint at a relative no-show so it can be prepared for the following home game?
Some recreational bettors are so afraid to bet on road teams that they’ll only do that with superpowers like Golden State, and maybe Milwaukee this season. They missed out on Game One upsets last weekend on Brooklyn over Philadelphia, Orlando over Toronto, and San Antonio over Denver. And, you know there wasn’t a public bettor anywhere in the world that wanted the Clippers the night they stunned the Warriors.
It’s important to keep home court value in perspective. It’s usually not as important as its hype (this year’s Over/Under for announcers yelling “listen to this crowd!” is in the hundreds). But, it can be a key ingredient within a “cocktail” of indicators that can signal peak performance in a one-game situation.
▪ Would you have thought the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees would have been the two biggest money-burners for bettors in baseball this season? That was the case when they met midweek. The Yankees swept a short two-game series, pushing the Sox down even further in the red. After the series ended, Boston was down 15 betting units in just 19 games played!
▪ That Red Sox/Yankees series was a playoff rematch. Baseball fans and bettors will enjoy another one this weekend when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the Milwaukee Brewers to re-live last season’s NLCS seven-game thriller. Their Saturday night meeting will be televised nationally (FS1, 6 p.m.)
Other national TV games of note: San Francisco at Pittsburgh (Saturday, FS1, 3 p.m.), and Atlanta at Cleveland (Sunday, ESPN, 6 p.m.).
▪ The NFL released its official schedule for the 2019 season this past Wednesday night. You’ve probably already looked over what’s on tap for the New Orleans Saints. Remember to have realistic expectations when considering bets on the futures board or on “Regular Season Win Totals.” Upsets do happen, which means New Orleans won’t win every game it’s “expected” to win.
Last season, the Saints (-10) dropped their season opener to Tampa Bay 48-40, a week 13 road game at Dallas 13-10 laying 7.5, and then their season finale vs. Carolina 33-14 as an 8-point favorite. New Orleans finished just 4-3 straight up as a favorite of a touchdown or more.
Soon after the schedule was released, the Westgate in Las Vegas made New Orleans a favorite of 7.5 points over the Houston Texans in the first game of ESPN’s annual Monday Night season-opening doubleheader. Did you already pencil in that one as a win?