In the first round of the playoffs, upsets may happen in the form of an eighth seed upsetting a first seed, a seventh seed upsetting a second seed, and so forth. However, just because a team is seeded higher than the other team in the matchup, this does not automatically mean that the higher-seeded team will be favored in the matchup. This is especially true with the fourth vs. fifth seed matchups as well as when the playoffs progress into the latter rounds. In this article, we’ll provide you with some tips on what to look for when trying to pick an upset in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Matchups Favoring One Team Over Another
The first potential tell-tale sign of an upset is when the underdog matches up overwhelmingly well against the favored team. What this means can relate to a few different factors. For example, if the favored team thrives on fast break points but the underdog team extremely adept at limiting a team’s fast break possession and excels in half-court sets, this may signal a potential upset. Another example would be a team that wins or losses by its ability to make three-point shots (favored team) matching up against a team that has the best defense against three-point shooters (underdog team). This matchup could also serve as a recipe for disaster for the favored team.
Motivation From Previous Years
Another sign of a potential upset would be if the underdog team was bounced by the favored team in playoff series from previous years. With more time for the underdog team to gel as well as additional games against the favored team, the underdog team may find themselves getting more used to the playing style of the favored team while learning the tendencies and weaknesses of the opposing team’s players. This way, the underdog team will gain much more experience playing against the favored team, in addition to their added motivation to essentially gain payback against the favored team for ending their season in the previous year(s).
Superstar Vs. No Superstar
Although a team may be favored to win the series over another team, another potential factor that could turn the series into an upset would be the fact that the underdog team possesses a bonafide superstar player whereas the favored team does not have such a player. Since superstar players will receive the majority of minutes and is able to really imprint themselves into games, they may be able to control the tempo and flow of the game while carrying his team. If the favored team is unable to find an answer against the opposing team’s superstar player, this player may gain more and more confidence as the series progresses, turning his team from being the underdog to being the favorite in a matter of a few games.
Healthy Vs. Not Healthy
The last potential signal that may bring about an upset is when the underdog team is much healthier than the favored team, especially if the best players on the favored team are the ones most affected by injuries. As the playoff series progresses into a grind, a team who’s not feeling the best in terms of their health will likely only feel worse as the series goes on.