Home Court May Be Small in Western Playoffs



This could be quite a challenge for oddsmakers.

Generally speaking, home court advantage is worth 3-4 points in the NBA. In recent years, we've seen it jump in some NBA series to as much as 5 points, particularly in the transition from a Game Two at one site to a Game Three at another. You'll see "changes" of 10 points or more from one place to another, which means home court is worth at least five at both places in those situations.

What will oddsmakers do this year in the West, when you have so many good road teams? You may not think a point or two really matters much in the big picture. It's DEFINITELY a big deal in very competitive series where the final score will often be right at the number in the final moments. Particularly when you're talking about TWO MONTHS of games like that! The difference between sportsbooks winning and sportsbooks losing may come down to whether oddsmakers or the sharps have a better read on home court advantage this year.

Here's what's causing the problem:

  • The Lakers have established in past years they know how to play on the road. Kobe Bryant gets respect wherever he plays from officials, which means the Lakers will be near the number more often than not.
  • Dallas, Portland, and Oklahoma City all have road records this year that are very similar to their home records. It's like the location of the game doesn't even matter to them. They can win road games or lose home games. Should oddsmakers consider a home court of ZERO for these teams?
  • San Antonio and Phoenix are similar in terms of playoff experience for their key players, the respect they get from officials on the road, and their ability to win road games. You just saw San Antonio score easy wins at Boston, Los Angeles, and Denver. How much home court advantage should their opponents be credited for?
  • Utah and Denver traditionally have higher home court edges than normal because of altitude, and the tendency refs have shown to put them on the free throw line. Utah has been a playoff disappointment though in recent years because there hasn't been much of a carryover to the postseason for those edges. What's the right number for home floor in Utah and Denver? Especially when they're playing good road teams who don't seem to care where the game is being played?

I strongly encourage you to consider these questions as you handicap the coming playoffs. Think about it this way. Do you think you could beat the line if Vegas gave you one point in every game on the board? What about a point and a half? If you're already a winner, getting a free point or more would make you even more dangerous. If you're 50/50, you suddenly become a winner because the close ones will go your way. The dynamics of home court advantage (or a LACK of an advantage) could very easily give you those points in the coming days and weeks.

This is why oddsmakers age so quickly! And, this is why sharps make so much money. The sports world always presents challenges...and whoever gets to the right answer first is the winner.

I've made a career out of getting to the right answer first. I've been an oddsmaker. I'm currently a Sportsbook Director for Cal-Neva. I've always been a big bettor. I've won the most respected handicapping contests in the field. And, for many years now here at the website I've been a winning handicapper for people like YOU.

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Be sure to check on baseball when you call. I'll be talking as much as I can about the bases here in these web articles in the coming days and weeks. The buzz right now in Las Vegas and Reno is about the intensity of the NBA playoffs...and I want to make sure on top of developments as they happen in pro hoops.

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