Handicapping Teams Down 0-2 in the NBA Playoffs

How to handicap teams down 0-2 in the NBA playoffs.

Key Points

– There are a number of considerations when betting the NBA playoffs on a team down 0-2.

– Just because a team is down 0-2 in the playoffs doesn’t mean they aren’t worth betting on.

Handicapping Teams Down 0-2 in the NBA Playoffs

Losing the first two games of a playoff series is the absolute worst thing an NBA team wants to happen. They fall into a hole from which it may be challenging to climb out. An 0-2 hole is not the end of the world, but it is extremely hard to come back from. 

Many NBA teams down 0-2 will fold and be eliminated quickly from the postseason. Others use the fear of elimination as a motivator. The trick for NBA bettors is to figure out which kind of team they are betting on in this situation. Plus, bettors shouldn’t forget about betting NBA totals.

Doing so can be rewarding for the smart bettor. When handicapping teams down 0-2 in the NBA playoffs, it’s important to take these following factors into account.


It’s worth noting where the losses occurred. In the NBA playoffs, the first two games are always at the home of the higher seed. It’s rare that a higher-seeded home team loses the first two games of any playoff series. However, it has happened. 

More often, the visiting team loses the first two games of a playoff series. Visiting teams down 0-2 realize their situation. Not many teams that go down 3-0 ever come back to win a series. 

Home teams that lose the first two games on their own court are in an even more difficult situation. They are faced with winning at least one game on the opponent’s home floor in order to send the series back to their home court for Games 5 and 7.

Where the losses occur, in this case, matters as they can affect the overall psyche of a team.


Identical NBA Playoffs Losses

Not all losses are created equal. A team can lose a game in many different ways. When handicapping teams down 0-2, it would be preferable for a team to have lost both games under different circumstances. 

Maybe a team shot poorly but was still able to hang in the game only to lose in the last minute. It’s possible a key player suffered an injury at some point in the game and didn’t return. That player’s presence may have been the difference. 

If a team lost both games in the same fashion – say they struggled shooting the ball – that would be a cause for concern. It could mark a longer-term trend. Smart bettors would want to use this as they figure out how to bet on the next game (if they bet at all).

The point here is that it’s worth looking at how the team lost its first two games. 

Statistical Performance

Bettors should take a look at a team’s statistical performances in those first two games. Are they meeting their expectations? Are they struggling in an area where they don’t normally have issues?

If a team is struggling, bettors should examine it further to decide whether the situation is likely to improve or not. For example, an 0-2 team has shot poorly in both of the first two games. Upon review, the reason for the shooting lapse was the outstanding defense by the opponent. That is more telling than a team simply missing a lot of open jump shots. 

A team may have scored the majority of its points in the paint. Once you examine it deeper, you find out that the opposition was missing its top interior defender for the first two games due to injury. He is expected to play in Game 3. That will likely make a huge difference in the game’s outcome.

The idea here is to determine whether or not what has happened in the first two games is likely to continue or change. That will help bettors handicap these games. 

Best Players in NBA Playoffs

Every NBA team has its best players. Have those players played up to their capabilities? Every NBA player has bad games, even star players. 

Basketball is very much a team sport, but the stars of the team will set the tone for all of their teammates. If they aren’t playing well, bettors should take a look at things like how the opposition is matching up against them. It’s also worth checking the star players’ health, their postseason performance history, their recent form, and even their body language on the court. 

Public Response

One of the best things bettors can do in a situation like this is take a look at how the public is reacting. When a series gets off to a slow start, the public will often act as though the world has ended. 

They will write off the team that is down 0-2 and develop a doomsday mentality. There are other times when dropping the first two games of a series won’t change anything. It might be a popular team that is returning to its home court. The public will continue to bet on them.

The best NBA bettors will always be aware of what the general public thinks and how it affects the way the lines are set and any line movement. Big line moves are a big deal. Smart bettors track this movement and use it to their advantage.