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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, May 17, 2013 at 7:00 PM

The NBA Playoff schedule has created a great opportunity for me to show you how my Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping approaches can be applied to studying a series. I’ll use this late-week slot in the schedule to preview the Memphis Grizzlies/San Antonio Western Conference Championship series that begins Sunday. My early report next week will preview the Eastern Conference Finals that will feature the Miami Heat against the winner of the Indiana Pacers/New York Knicks series.

 

PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS

When you think of San Antonio, the “big three” of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili naturally come to mind. It’s important to note that the Spurs won Game Six this past Thursday Night when Parker and Ginobili were only 4 of 22 shooting! They have some role players who can fill the void, at least on occasion. Still, the team generally lives and dies in the playoffs based on the contributions (or lack thereof) of those three stars.

Memphis is a balanced team that is most dangerous when Zach Randolph is pounding the ball inside and feeling his oats. That frees up Marc Gasol for open looks. Any team with more than one “in the paint” scorer is lethal in the postseason. Advanced Handicappers should note that Mike Conley has upped his game since Rudy Gay was traded.

Who has the edge between the two teams? I respect the experience and talent of the Spurs legends. I’m also aware that Memphis is more dynamic IN CLOSE, which is a big reason why they upset the Spurs two years ago. Very tight call.

 

THE MOTIVATION FACTOR

As I’ve said before during the postseason, everyone is “motivated” in the playoffs. Nobody would say “San Antonio is more motivated than Memphis to win this series.” Both teams have maximum motivation to win the series. What I look at in the playoffs comes at the other end of the spectrum. Which team is more likely to get down on themselves if things start to go South? Which team has shown an ability to bounce back best off a loss?

Oklahoma City was motivated vs. Memphis in the last round, but they stopped believing in themselves. Golden State had great attitude and energy vs. San Antonio. They simply ran out of gas with so many key players trying to fight through injuries. Which of Memphis or San Antonio is more likely to lose faith or run out of gas?

I’m still pondering this angle. I will tell you that San Antonio didn’t impress me last year vs. Oklahoma City when things got turned around on them. And, they didn’t impress me two years ago when they lost as a #1 seed in the first round to Memphis. This tells me San Antonio doesn’t have an extra gear to go to when needed. Will Memphis? Or, will Memphis shrink under the spotlight of new expectations?

 

BASKETBALL FUNDAMENTALS

Defense. Rebounding. Protecting the ball. Three-Point Shooting. Scoring when you HAVE to score late in a game. I’ve talked about all of these at various times through March Madness and late season NBA. They all matter. Here’s my checklist heading into the series:

 

Defense: Memphis (arguably the best defense in the NBA)

Rebounding: Memphis

Protecting the Ball: Tough call

Three-Point Shooting: San Antonio by a lot

Clutch Scoring: San Antonio

You don’t normally think of San Antonio as a team that “has” to make treys to win. But, they might as well be the Knicks in this series because Memphis is so strong inside. This is part of why the Spurs struggled in that series two years ago. Edges they normally enjoy inside the arc were cancelled out. Barring injuries, we should see something similar this year.

The principals of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping project a very tight series. The market has given the early nod to San Antonio slightly because of home court advantage. I firmly believe Memphis can win this series if they stay healthy and don’t wilt under the spotlight. Handicapping the series is basically determining how important composure and experience are going to be in the latter stages.

I won’t talk to you here about my game-by-game plans. That information must stay protected for my paying clients. You can purchase all game-day basketball and baseball right here at the website with your credit card. The Dean of Sports Handicapping aims to teach here in the Advanced College. Additional assistance is always a few clicks away.

See you early next week to talk about the Eastern Finals. Thanks again for all of your hard work!

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