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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Throughout the calendar year, I’ve been emphasizing to you the importance of recognizing PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in your handicapping process. This is true in ALL sports, and is the single most important key in my view toward beating the Las Vegas line. I appreciate that so many of you have given me the chance to prove that to you during college football, pro football, March Madness, and now the NBA Playoffs.

It’s become clear in the past few days that we need to tweak “GameBREAKERS” into “GameWINNERS” because there is a skill to producing when it matters when everything is on the line in the NBA Playoffs.

*Stephen Curry may be one of the best playmakers of all time during by the time his career ends. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as dynamic a long range shooter in my lifetime, and I’ve been handicapping pro basketball since before many of you were born. That being said, he has yet to show he’s a GameWINNER in crunch time in the final minutes of close playoff games. Golden State almost blew a huge lead vs. Denver last week at Oracle Arena. Then, they DID blow a huge lead in Game One of the San Antonio series this past Monday Night. No trophies are given for being the best “third quarter” player in the game.

*Memphis is a team that’s still trying to figure out who its gamebreaker is going to be in the final minutes. It used to be Rudy Gay. He was more trouble than he was worth. But, at least he gave them a plan when they needed a late basket. After blowing a big fourth quarter lead Sunday against Oklahoma City, Memphis is now 0-2 straight up in close games this postseason, 4-1 in games decided by double digits. Does Memphis have a gameWINNER when the outcome is being decided in the 48th minute?

*Carmelo Anthony has a well-earned reputation for putting up big numbers when it’s easy but disappearing when the going gets tough. Let me be clear…Anthony is a fantastic, dynamic offensive player. He’s won a lot of bets for me over the years when I see that he’s facing a defense that can’t handle him. But, in the playoffs, he just becomes a ball hog who misses too many shots and won’t pass to open teammates. He may grow out of that someday. Maybe this series is when it finally happens. But, recent Knicks ATS results show that he’s still not a gameWINNER when facing a tough defense.

Advanced Sports Bettors and handicappers will need to think about line value very carefully through these second round matchups. The single best gameWINNER out there might be Kevin Durant. He hit the clutch shot that beat Memphis, but it didn’t cover the spread. Manu Ginobili is a proven gameWINNER. He hit the clutch shot that beat Golden State, but it didn’t cover the spread. BET GAME-WINNERS WHEN WINNING THE GAME WILL COVER THE SPREAD!

As these rounds develop, focus very carefully on the relationship between key scorers and the Vegas line. Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks may generally be a dumb bet at -5 or higher, but a smart bet at +4 or better. Steph Curry and the Warriors may generally be a great bet at +7 or better, but a team you want to avoid near pick-em. Recognizing the value differences between gameBREAKERS and gameWINNERS will make you a MONEY WINNER the rest of the way.

If you’d like some help finding the best basketball plays on the board during this very challenging time, you can purchase my BEST BETS here at the website with your major credit card. I won’t get much of a chance to talk about baseball during this NBA-heavy month. Just remember that you can be pyramiding your weekly bankrolls by adding Major League action into the mix.  

We’ll talk more about the NBA Playoffs later this week. I can tell you from out here in Vegas that many old-time sharps are struggling because their favorite trends and angles stopped working. People following my Advance Principals have a much better chance of reading and reacting on the fly because they’re focused on what’s happening on the court right now rather than what happened years ago with some out-of-date angle. Keep your pencils sharp and your minds sharper!

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