How to Spot Vulnerable High Seeded NBA Playoff Teams

Looking back, it's quite clear that the high seeds in the NBA playoffs are the most dominant. In fact, a number one seed has lost to a number eight just three times in NBA history. A sixth seed, the 1995 Houston Rockets are the lowest seed ever to win it all.

Generally there are a few teams each year that are clearly above the rest of the league. These are the teams that will typically cruise through the first round or two, eventually contending for the title. Because upsets are relatively rare in the NBA, they can be tough to spot, but detecting these vulnerable teams can be extremely profitable for the sports bettor. Focusing in on the following four areas could very well lead you to exploiting a high seeded team headed for defeat.

1) Unusual Overall Team Play

Typically a NBA team earns a high seed because they have played very well throughout the whole season. Sometimes though, teams played well for most of the season and build enough of a lead to maintain their position despite playing worse down the stretch.

Don't let the high seeding blind you to any recent issues. Maybe the team is looking tired and not playing with the intensity they once were. Perhaps opponents are figuring out how to play them and/or how to create mismatches with their lineups. It's not just the record of the team that can indicate their form, either. You need to look beyond that, at their statistical performance.

Are they shooting as well as they were earlier in the season? Is their rebounding as effective? Are they playing with similar defensive intensity? How are turnovers measuring up to where they were? How about assists? Are they dominating the paint?

2) Exploitable Team and Individual Matchup weaknesses

NBA teams that are seeded highly won't have lost a lot of games during the season. It's important to look back when they did lose, to reveal any consistent patterns to those losses.

Did they consistently lose to teams that were bigger, or teams that played at a quicker pace? Were they vulnerable to strong outside shooting teams or ones who scored a lot close to the basket? Were they able to adjust against teams that were relentless on defense, ably causing turnovers and blocking shots? Did they tend to struggle against elite centers, or were outstanding point guards more problematic?

If you can find situations that have consistently led to problems for the team then you can determine whether those circumstances are going to be an issue in the playoffs. Essentially, it comes down to matchups. If a NBA team has consistently been bested by a particular type of matchup problem then you need to determine whether that matchup issue exists in the first round as well, or if there is some way that the lower seeded team can take advantage of the shortcoming.

3) Injuries and Players Not at Full Strength

Injuries can obviously have a big impact on the success of the team. Some injuries are going to be obvious. If Russell Westbrook were to get hurt the Thunder would be impacted significantly.

There are other situations that can be far more impactful from a betting perspective. Ones that won't get nearly as much attention, but can have a significant impact. Is there a lesser starter who is out of action? How about a key backup, one who would be relied upon for a lot of minutes and production? Beyond players who are out of action you can gain a lot by getting a sense of which players are playing but aren't at full capacity.

If the stars are playing but aren't at full strength then the team might not be as strong as the public suspects they will be and you could have a betting opportunity.

4) Lower Seed Not Always Weak

People get blinded by a low seed in the NBA as much as they do by a high one. They assume that a low seeded team isn't nearly as good as their higher seeded counterpart.

That isn't the always the case. Perhaps the difference in terms of points between the low seed and the high one isn't significant. In order to get into the playoffs, a lower seeded may have come together and are now playing at a much higher level. Maybe they made a trade at or near the deadline that is just beginning to pay off. There are many reasons why a lower seed can be deceptively strong. Spotting them and wagering on them can be very profitable. Handicap the high and low NBA playoff seeds carefully.

When handicapping the NBA playoffs, a team's seeding should be considered, while at other times be completely ignored. It takes knowledge, experience, and a good deal of time in order to spot value plays in the NBA postseason.

Not an easy task, but if it was, everybody would be doing it. Your Grandma might have some action on a game or two. Imagine her talking smack after cashing more than you? Let's let Grandma stick to knitting, while you stick to handicapping. Heck, have her crotchet you a bag big enough to hold all the money you're going to win this NBA postseason.