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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 6:00 PM

It’s very important for students of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to realize that handicapping the impact of injuries is never as easy as it seems. There are a few examples of that going on right now in the NBA Playoffs. And, given the ferocity of play so far, handicappers may be dealing with new challenges in the coming days when new players get hurt.

 

Consider:

*The Chicago Bulls were supposed to have no chance this year of mattering in the playoffs because Derrick Rose wasn’t able to come back yet from his horrible knee injury suffered in the first round of last year’s postseason. Then, Joakim Noah was ALSO hurt, and his minutes would be limited. Even with that bleak outlook, Chicago stole a win at New Jersey before taking a 2-1 series lead with another victory this past Thursday Night. They may still be knocked out in the first round. But, they’re playing a lot better than many in the sport expected. Here in Vegas, Chicago has covered two of its first three pointspreads.

*The Golden State Warriors lost David Lee in Game One of their series with Denver. The Warriors don’t have much of an inside presence. Andrew Bogut is often hurt himself! Golden State was so devastated by Lee’s injury that they beat Denver 131-117 without him in Game Two, topping the Vegas spread by 22 points.

I don’t mean to suggest that injuries don’t matter. The Lakers are obviously suffering with their M*A*S*H unit (with others joining Kobe Bryant in street clothes). Boston’s second half offensive performances have been historically dismal without Rajon Rondo on the floor to lead the charge (though Boston did cover their first game in New York). Denver could sure use Danilo Gallinari’s shooting touch in their battle with Golden State.

My point is, handicapping the impact of injuries is complicated. Remember that as you ponder what life will be like for Oklahoma City without Russell Westbrook the next few weeks…and with additional injuries that are bound to come up in both conferences now that the championship is officially on the line.

 

Questions to ask:

*How good is the replacement? If the backup at the injured position is still pretty good, you’d be surprised how little drop-off there is on a per-game basis.

*Can the team switch to “small ball” or “tall ball” in a way that still gets the job done? Golden State went small without Lee, and it completely through Denver off on both sides of the floor. Coaches are innovative, and players are resilient. A well-coached team with varied weaponry can weather a storm. A poorly coached team with a weak bench can completely fall apart. Know the difference!

*What role will fatigue play as a series gets deeper? Chicago might be able to handle an injury a bit better because they play slow basketball. A run-and-gun team might be okay at first, but then completely lose their legs later in the series. A playoff series is often a battle of attrition, with one team wearing down the other both physically and mentally. Can Golden State’s “small ball” approach work four times? Or, will it work just once or twice before the remaining healthy players run out of gas?

This level of analysis will present a challenge to many of you. But, I can assure you that it will also present a challenge to oddsmakers! They have to post guesses about the impact of key injuries. You get to evaluate those guesses and pound any mistakes that are made. YOU are still in a position of power if you intelligently think through the impact of each injury that comes up.

You’ll get a quick chance to do that Saturday when Oklahoma City takes the floor for the first time EVER without Russell Westbrook. I’m quite certain that you’ll be dealing with variations of that through the next several weeks. Pro basketball is a brutal sport. Collisions, missteps, and inadvertent elbows are inevitable. Advanced Handicappers must be prepared for the inevitable!

If you’d like some help finding strong plays on the NBA (and MLB!) schedules, you can purchase my top selections daily right here at this every website with your major credit card. I understand that these are challenging times for many of you. I’m always here to help if needed.

I told you I’d be “reading and reacting” to NBA Playoff developments here in the coursework. I have no doubt that challenging storylines will continue to present themselves throughout the rest of the postseason. We’ll get together again early next week to review lessons from the weekend. This year’s playoffs are presenting a trial by fire that will help you become an Advanced Sports Bettor and Handicapper. Keep working hard!

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