NBA to return for playoffs only?

May 14, 2020 12:35 AM

The push to re-start the NBA took another small step forward on Wednesday. First, news surfaced that the players held a "secret meeting" to conduct an unofficial poll about returning. Included in the meeting were a powerhouse list of stars including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Giannis Antetokuonmpo, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard. According to reports, the consensus among the players was that they all wanted to return to action. 

The bigger story of the day came from Boston Celtics forward and NBA Players Association Vice President Jaylen Brown. In an interview with CNN, Brown said that it's "understood" that the NBA would go straight into the playoffs when the season resumes. 

Going right into the postseason is a smart idea for a variety of reasons. First, it limits the the number of teams competing from 30 down to 16, thereby decreasing the chances of a player testing positive. It also allows the NBA to conduct the Draft Lottery, which was scheduled for May 20th. If the league elected to play out the final 16-regular season games per team that would force the NBA to push back the lottery and the draft. 

Adam Silver is expected to come to a decision within the next 2-4 weeks. 

If we skip the tail end of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs these would be the first-round matchups

East

(1) Bucks vs (8) Magic

(2) Raptors vs (7) Nets

(3) Celtics vs (6) 76ers

(4) Heat vs (5) Pacers

West

(1) Lakers vs (8) Grizzlies

(2) Clippers vs (7) Mavs

(3) Nuggets vs (6) Rockets

(4) Jazz vs (5) Thunder

In terms or betting, there are several profitable playoff trends to keep an eye out for. 

Since 2005, unders have cashed at a 51.5% clip in the postseason according to Bet Labs Sports. They have done particularly well in the first round of the playoffs, cashing at a 53.5% rate. This is due to the added emphasis on defense because the games matter more. If the first round total falls at least a half point, the under improves to 55.6%. The public almost always bets overs, so if the line drops that's typically a sign of sharp action. 

Playoff unders could perform even better than their historical average because they'll be coming on the heels of a 2 month hiatus. Due to the extended layoff, many players will have lost their offensive rhythm and need to re-acclimate their bodies and minds and get back to their pre-virus conditioning. Many players have barely shot the ball or played one-on-one. Very few have had access to a gym. You would imagine they would be rusty when they return, which benefits defense and hurts offense. 

In case you are wondering, favorites have been a smart bet in the postseason as well. Since 2005, they've covered at a 52.6% clip. During the regular season they only cover 49.8% of the time.

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