Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM
It’s been amazing to watch the NBA Eastern Conference Finals series matching the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat develop. You normally think of a very intense basketball series leading to UNDERS, because intensity typically gets channeled into defense when a season is on the line.
But, as we’ve also seen during March Madness with the most aggressive teams, the modern game is tending toward MORE scoring in playoff type action because aggression is happening on both sides of the floor. If you ATTACK THE BASKET, you earn a lot of fouls. That…
*Puts you on the line for uncontested free throws
*Forces defenders to back off so they don’t foul out
The first four games in the Heat/Pacers series have gone Over the Las Vegas total. The first game landed on 184 in regulation against a total of 181. The second game scooted up to 190 against a total of 182. Game Three saw a huge offensive performance by the Heat trigger a 210 game that flew over 182. Game Four fell back to 191, which still cleared a lifted Vegas total of 185.
In those four games, the winning team shot 53%, 53%, 57%, and 57% on two-point shots. The two teams combined to attempt 57, 58, 62, and 60 free throws. Even though the games have been “slow” in terms of lacking fast break scoring…they’re still going Over.
The Pacers set the tone for this style in their first round series against Atlanta. At home, their games landed on 197, 211, and 189 for three Overs, with Indiana shooting 34, 29, and 35 free throws in a continual onslaught of the basket.
Miami was also attacking Milwaukee in their first round. But, it was only Milwaukee so they weren’t breathing fire. Still, the Heat shot 69%, 49%, 55%, and 57% on two-pointers in that series.
It’s like watching the best Louisville team of the past few years play the best Kentucky team of the past few years in imaginary Final Four. Attack…attack…attack! This is what basketball has become. Advanced Sports Bettors and Handicappers need to adjust accordingly.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m automatically encouraging an Over play for my clients tonight. You have to be a paying customer to get the plays! We may be at a point where the referees start to swallow their whistles. If that happens, shooting percentages and free throw volume will go down (of course, we may have an MMA match break out in the paint!). Both Indiana and Miami have played some big Unders in the playoffs in games where the refs were quiet.
My point today is that you have to make adjustments to how you used to handicap postseason basketball. I know a few longtime sharps who are getting hurt badly this month by trying force Unders because that always worked for them in the past. Those same guys have had trouble in recent March Madness action too. PAY ATTENTION to what’s happening now! Read and react to coaching strategies, player talent, and officiating. That will serve you well for the rest of this series, and in the NBA Finals when this survivor faces the well-rested San Antonio Spurs in a series that begins Thursday June 6.
You can bet Unders when passive teams are facing good defenses. You can get them BIG much of the time because they’ll stay Under even with overtime. Be sure you know the difference between passive and aggressive when evaluating basketball offenses.
That wraps up today’s lesson. I’ll be back early next week to talk about baseball. Then, I’ll have a series preview for the NBA Championship that will run before that opener.
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Thanks again for all of your hard work. The Dean of Sports Handicapping is proud that the response to this series has been so positive all year round. Thanks for reading, and for encouraging your friends to read too!