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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM

If there was ever a weekend to be investing in the most dynamic stars of professional basketball, you just watched it. The cream didn’t just rise to the top. The best athletes on the planet came out breathing fire to send a message about their clear intentions to charge to a championship.

Through the eight first round games played Saturday and Sunday, the average victory margin was 16 points, and the midpoints in the string of victory margins was right on 17. Las Vegas oddsmakers usually don’t make dynasty teams that pricey in the playoffs. Here, it was the AVERAGE of all favorites!

Does this mean that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and now even Deron Williams are going to keep leading their teams to one-sided blowouts? Let the long experience of THE DEAN OF SPORTS HANDICAPPING suggest some caution.

*I got a very strong sense that James and Durant were “sending a message” the first time they took the floor as a means of intimidating their current (and future) opponents. MESSAGE SENT! But, there’s no reason to play with that same level of intensity in all four games. You don’t get bonus points by winning by 25 points. The trophy you’re shooting for isn’t any bigger. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these favorites take their foot off the gas so they can save their energy for later rounds.

*Many of the underdogs have GAMEBREAKERS too. Scorers like James Harden, Zach Randolph, Monta Ellis and many veteran stars were flattened by tsunami’s this past weekend. They’re going to get back up…dust themselves off…and get back to work. Some of what you saw in the last six minutes of multiple games last weekend was a road underdog giving up for the day because they realized they had no chance to come back. That doesn’t mean they gave up on the series.

*If you love conspiracy theories…be aware that the LAST thing that Commissioner David Stern wants is a bunch of horrible first round series getting poor TV ratings. They have inventory to sell…and what happened this past weekend was about the worst advertisement possible for first round basketball. I’m not suggesting you start believing in government plots or alien autopsies. But, if some of these series underdogs start making some shots, they may find additional assistance coming their way in the form of whistles in the paint.

I’ll be picking my spots over the next few days, thinking about both my PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS strategy and THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. Many powers who were motivated to send a message Saturday or Sunday may have lost some motivation after making their statements. The onus is now on their opponents to turn this factor to their advantage. Students of my College of Advanced Sports Betting know that you can’t overreact to something you just watched on TV. Trust the proven fundamentals of handicapping whichever direction they lead you.

Remember that you want talent AND motivation when making playoff picks. Talent by itself won’t cover these double digit home spreads. Talent by itself won’t win on the road. I’ve seen far too many bettors over the years overreact to the first few days of results (NBA Playoffs, march Madness, college football bowls, to name a few examples). Keep your heads on straight!

I will have some big plays going nightly in the NBA and Major League Baseball. You can purchase those right here at this very website with your major credit card if you find you need assistance picking a course of action. My College of Advanced Sports Betting is designed to teach YOU how to pick winners. Additional assistance is always just a few clicks away.

I’ll see you again late this week for more coursework. We’ll mostly be focusing on the NBA Playoffs over the next several lessons. I’ll try to fit in some additional baseball when the schedule permits. I always try to emphasize a “read and react” approach to our studies during important sports betting stretches like this.  Let me say again that I greatly appreciate the hard work all of you are putting in week after week. It’s an honor to see that so many of you are returning to read each lesson!

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