Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 1:30 PM
As promised, I’m back with a look at the Eastern Conference Championship round in the NBA Playoffs from an “Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping” perspective. This is a very challenging series to handicap in my view for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, the key players don’t really fit into the classic categories.
PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS
This is always where we start. It’s the deciding characteristic in almost every major sporting event you come across. When the market has a misread about the impact players, you’re going to make big money as a sports bettor. The problems here are:
*Miami has one superstar gamebreaker in LeBron James…easily the greatest player of the current generation and arguably the single biggest basketball force to ever play the game. He’s an incredible scorer, but could also make a strong case as Defensive Player of the Year as well. He’s Michael Jordan if Michael Jordan lifted more weights growing up. Miami wins the “gamebreaker” discussion quickly vs. anybody because they’re the only team with LeBron James.
*Miami has surrounded James with role players who know how to play to their roles (even Dwyane Wade, who would be a gamebreaker on another team, is largely a glorified role player with the Heat). A three-point specialist isn’t normally thought of as a “gamebreaker.” But, he is if the series comes down to whether or not Ray Allen can make open looks. Chris Bosh isn’t a gamebreaker, until you decide to leave him alone because he’s the least scary option.
*Indiana’s gamebreakers are on the DEFENSE. You’ve probably seen that replay of a blocked Carmelo Anthony dunk a few hundred times. HUGE PLAY. And, it came on defense. If you only look at “offensive” gamebreakers, then Miami wins in a rout. When you give the Pacers credit for their “defensive” gamebreakers, it becomes a series.
Miami is the better team overall, and deserves the nod in that light. Handicapping each game will come down to determining whether or not Indiana’s defense can slow down Miami’s offense enough to be competitive.
THE MOTIVATION FACTOR
Miami has tasted a championship, and wants to taste another. Indiana can play free and easy with nothing to lose, and has revenge after losing to the Heat in last year’s playoffs. Typically, this category cancels out in the playoffs because everybody’s motivated. I’ll say this. If there’s a chance one team is going to be complacent, it’s Miami because they’ve shown a tendency for overconfidence in the past. If there’s one team that has a chance to lift its motivation up to “11” on a scale to 10…it’s revenge-minded Indiana. Slight edge to the dog in my view in this category.
Once again, we’re talking about the awesome Miami offense against the awesome Indiana defense. Indiana has one of the most fundamentally sound defenses I’ve ever seen…and they play that way with great athletes. Let’s run through the same categories we used in our Western preview.
Defense: Indiana (statistically the best defense in the NBA)
Rebounding: Indiana by a lot
Protecting the Ball: Miami
Three-Point Shooting: Miami
Clutch Scoring: Miami
I have a lot of respect for both teams. To me, the clear difference will likely involve what happens late in close games. Indiana has a tendency to make turnovers under defensive pressure. Indiana doesn’t really have a go-to-guy that’s a sure thing when they need points against a pressuring defense. This is going to kill them in crunch time. Miami can go to either LeBron or Wade…and has other guys who can make an open look if the ball moves around. Miami is deservedly the Vegas favorite.
That being said, Indiana can certainly cover in games they lose. They will be in the +7 to +9 range as a road underdog depending on how the series plays out (prices will drop if Indiana stays competitive, but will soar if they get blown out). They’re certainly capable of winning at least one home game at a price near pick-em, conceivably all home games given their results in Indianapolis this postseason.
I can’t talk specifically about Game One, or my game-by-game plans because I have to protect that information for my clients. I can assure you that I’ve mapped out a fairly aggressive approach for both side and total action in this series. And, I fully intend to hit the ground running in Wednesday Night’s first game. You can purchase my selections in basketball and baseball right here at the website with your major credit card. My College of Advanced Sports Betting was designed to teach you how to pick winners. Additional help is always a few clicks away.
Back again later this week with what will probably be another basketball report reflecting on action to that point in the Conference Finals. Enjoy the games, and do your level best to get the money!