The 5 W's of Handicapping Regular Season Meetings for the NBA Finals

The two teams that meet in the NBA Finals have faced one another during the season. Though, they've only played a pair of games, one in each of their home arenas, sports bettors can learn a lot by looking back at what happened in those games.

Careful not to give the outcomes of those games too much credit, here are the five questions to answer when looking at the regular season meetings of NBA Finals foes and using them in your basketball handicapping:

1) What Happened in Those Meetings?

A basic starting point, what happened in those games? Looking well beyond the surface and giving consideration to far more than the final score, you need to look at the whole story.

Determine why the final score was close/lopsided. There are several reasons other than talent level that could explain a final score. You want to get a sense of things like the tempo of the game, whether some players were able to perform above expectations or were held below their best, and so on.

At this point you also want to consider the motivation of the teams. Was one team on a long road trip, or playing for the second night in a row? Had one team clinched their playoff spot and enjoying the freedom to rest? If one team was likely more motivated than the other, then the result means little since motivation will not be a factor in your wagering on the finals.

2) When Did They Play?

The more recent a result is, the more relevant it is. Any regular season game is going to be a long way removed from the finals. Three rounds of playoff action and almost two months have passed since the last regular season game, and a lot can change and evolve in that time.

If the teams met before Christmas both times then you can't assume that what happened then will have any bearing at all on what happens now. Taking anything away from those results shouldn't hold too much weight in your handicapping.

3) Why Were the Results Consistent/Inconsistent?

The two games will, at the very least, give you something to compare. If the result was essentially the same in both games, in terms of style of play and the eventual outcome, then that is significant since the location of the games, the timing of the games and so on were different in both. If the results were far different, refer to questions #1 and #2.

4) Where Has a Team Made Post-Season Adjustments?

Some teams make the finals by playing the same style that they did to get to the playoffs in the first place. Other teams are able to adjust and adapt, significantly lifting their game to a whole new level when the games matter most.

Those are the teams that might not look like a serious contender when the playoffs start but have left no doubts by the last series. More significantly, they are essentially a different team than the one we saw during the season. This makes it all the more difficult to draw any conclusions from the regular season meetings when handicapping the NBA Finals.

5) Who is On the Roster?

If you are otherwise convinced that the regular season meetings were significant then you really need to check to see if the lineup that was on the court then is significantly similar to the one you will see now.

  • Were there any key late season acquisitions?
  • Was a key player sidelined due to injury, or playing reduced minutes because he was banged up?
  • Was a player starting back then, now coming off the bench?
  • Has a player emerged as an important factor in the playoffs who was not yet a difference maker in the regular season?
These factors can mean a lot when you're handicapping the NBA Finals.


So there you have it, It's that easy. Who? What? Where? When? and Why? Five questions about two games, and hopefully the answers will help you in figuring which team to pick.