Monday, November 29, 2010

NBA Playoff Revenge Article

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Specifically, after about five months of sitting around spoiling in the cupboard, cold.

The concept at hand is, of course, NBA Playoff Revenge.

There are very few motivating factors stronger than exacting revenge on the team that ended another's season. No other scenario in sports has the ability to concentrate emotion so profoundly. A playoff series involves multiple games against the same team. They're often five, six, seven games long, each frothing with adrenaline and testosterone, as one team stares into the eyes of the same players every other night. The fact that a fight doesn't occur every night is a testament to the game itself, as the hard fouls start to wear on both the body and mind, and the claws are always on the brink of coming out.

So, after struggling with another club in such a heated spot, failing, and going home without a Championship, the only faces the losing team can see belong to that one team, that one that ended the season.

To be fair, the likelihood that Jason Terry saw Manu Ginobili's visage when he closed his eyes at night is probably a tad overblown, but you know darn well that the day the Mavericks got their schedule for the following season, the red pens came out, and the date with the Spurs got circled. San Antonio took care of Dallas in the 2010 NBA Playoffs in six games, so, on paper, it seems like the series was fairly evenly matched. However, Dallas was the 2nd seed in the vaunted Western Conference, and lost to San Antonio despite home court advantage, and despite San Antonio being ranked the 7th seed. In this particular case, Dallas had playoff revenge on the brain, but also needed to wipe the nasty taste out of its mouth from falling to a lower-ranked team.

Sure enough, November 26th rolled around, just one month into the NBA season, and Dallas was headed to San Antonio. Lo and behold, as a 4-point underdog, the Mavericks beat the Spurs by 9, covering the spread by 13 points, and, to some small degree, bringing relief after an offseason of agitation. Maybe more telling is that the Mavericks held the Spurs to San Antonio's 2nd-lowest shooting percentage of any home game to that point in the season, a sign that Dallas's increased effort led to superior defense.

The best part about NBA Playoff Revenge is that it can net you fifteen golden opportunities that will usually occur in the first two months of the NBA season, every year. And, depending on the level of embarrassment that a particular team may have suffered in the Playoffs - the ego-crushing beating the Magic laid on the Hawks last year comes to mind - and whether that team on revenge actually wins the first meeting (a straight up loss and an ATS win is like a revenge-player's gold mine), you might even squeeze another five to ten high-percentage plays out of corollaries to this stratagem.

Opponents might argue that being "mathematically eliminated" with a week to go in the regular season is pretty frustrating as well, and that ends a team's year, or that playoff elimination is all part of the natural course of the postseason.

To the first point, the frustration over a season ending after an attempt to get into the playoffs often gets pointed inward. These teams seem less inclined to blame the team that delivered the final blow, and instead spend the offseason working on improving enough so that they are not in that same position the following year. This might lead to early-season success, but that is fodder for another column.

To the second point, the results simply speak for themselves. Obviously, with the power shift in the Eastern Conference due to LeBron James departing from Cleveland, a revenge bettor would be wise to throw out the series involving Cleveland and Miami. Outside of those rematches, which one could argue are no longer revenge games, this method of wagering is 8-1 ATS at the end of November. The one loss involved Phoenix falling to the Lakers, a loss the Suns avenged in an early-season rematch. If you backed the Suns a second time, as per the corollary above, you would be sitting pretty on a 9-1 record only a month into the season.

NBA Playoff Revenge is not going to hit every time - after all, no play is perfect. The strategy most likely will not go 90%, either. However, because of a lack of long term memory for most bettors, you can get a huge edge by digging that crumpled up NBA playoff bracket out of the garbage, and riding the losers of yesteryear to winners today.

1 comment:

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