As we enter crunch time of the NBA season the final standings come into focus and with that an idea of every teams final seeding for the playoffs. This impacts home court advantage and ultimately will have a big bearing on the post-season success or failure of a team. In this article we take a look at NBA seeding prop bets and how they can be included in your futures betting strategy.
The new play-in tournament has extended the playoff race. Now teams fighting for 10th seed still have a chance of making the playoffs and competing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Sportsbooks have introduced seeding prop bets over the last few seasons with bettors more interested in the final standings at the end of the regular season.
Typically there are two types of NBA seeding prop bets available – over/unders and exact. For example, an over/under would set a seeding line that a team would finish over/under e.g. Phoenix Suns to finish over/under 1st seed in the Western Conference. The other example would be an exact yes/no bet, obviously leaving less room for error e.g. Will the Toronto Raptors finish as the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference – Yes/No.
Before the season every team will have a win line set for them by the sportsbooks and this can sometimes be a good indication of where a team will land once the 82 games have been played.
The NBA Season
The NBA regular season is an 82 game marathon. Predicting the final outcome before a bucket has been scored is no easy feat. Injuries, coaching changes, trades will all impact a team’s form.
Looking at 2021-2022 season there has a been a number of unforeseen events that have impacted team performance. Ben Simmons refusal to play for the Philadelphia 76ers has brought it’s own problems for Doc Rivers and almost every team has been included in trade rumours for the Aussie. Kyrie Irving’s vaccine status has become a major talking point and he is only available to Steve Nash and the Brooklyn Nets when playing away from their homecourt. Klay Thompson has returned from a long-term injury to strengthen the Golden State Warriors while major players have suffered long-term injuries to the detriment of their franchise. Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, Zion Williamson and many more have missed considerable amount of game time this year.
It’s true that a seed prop bet falls under the futures umbrella and one of the more niche ones at that. In the next section we will take a look at how the season has panned out to date and how that differs from their pre-season seeding expectations.
Tight in the East
The Eastern Conference has been one of the closest in recent memory. At the time of writing only five games separate the Miami Heat in 1st seed and the Boston Celtics in 8th seed. The Brooklyn Nets, still the favourites to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy, currently sit in 7th. The standings are filled with similar anomalies. The young Cleveland Cavaliers have shocked the basketball world with so many impressive showings this season. They smashed through their pre-season over/under win totals by January and are well placed for a strong push in the Eastern Conference and should have enough in the locker to claim home advantage in the playoffs.
Last season’s Eastern Conference finalists Atlanta Hawks have struggled majorly this season and are currently in a battle to make the 10th seed and the play-in tournament. Another run to the finals looks unlikely for Trae Young and his teammates this season. Similarly the Knicks and the Pacers look to be in rebuilding mode for the remainder of the season and could sink towards the bottom of the standings.
On the home front, the Toronto Raptors have recovered from a rocky start to surge up the standings. Fred VanVleet has been named to the All-Star team for the first time in his career and he has blossomed with Pascal Siakam on the court to lift the Raptors up to 6th in the standings. It will be a fight over the remainder of the season to keep themselves in those automatic playoff spots but one they should be more than capable for.
Rising in the West
In contrast to the Eastern Conference, there are two clear leaders at the top of the Western Conference. This season has been a story of renewal and redemption at the top of the West with the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies all performing at close to their peak.
The Suns have been imperious leading the NBA. They are on course for approximately 67 wins and barring a final quarter collapse they should be the No.1 seed when the playoffs start. The Warriors are preparing for another tilt at the championship and have assembled another strong core with Klay Thompson returning alongside 2-time MVP Stephen Curry, first-time All-Star Andrew Wiggins and Defensive Player of the Year favourite Draymond Green.
The Memphis Grizzlies have become the casual fans’ second-favourite team. Ja Morant high-flying athletics catch the eye but in reality it’s the deep bench and strong starting ensemble that have seen this squad rise up the standings. Home seeding in the playoffs looks likely for the Grizz and no team would enjoy a Game 7 in the Grindhouse.
Pre-season favourites the Los Angeles Lakers have really struggled this year and their odds of reclaiming the championship have slipped out to +2000. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have both missed considerable game time this season while their big off-season acquisition Russell Westbrook has come under pressure for his below-par performances. A potential play-in match up with the understrength Los Angeles Clippers is on the cards.
Seeding Prop Bets
The odds and lines for NBA seeding prop bets will change throughout the season with the factors mentioned throughout the piece all impacting the odds.
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