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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 1:00 PM

I’ve decided to push back this week’s college basketball article to later in the week because the bulk of marquee matchups will be happening over the weekend. Plus, watching a day full of NBA action on MLK day put me in a state of mind to write about pro basketball. I know a lot of handicappers who aren’t even touching this sport until the NBA playoffs. I’ll pick some spots here and there to provide handicapping tips for students in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping who are giving the NBA a shot.

To me, the biggest element right now in handicapping the NBA is THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. But, it’s not necessarily about the classic causes of motivation (rivalries, revenge, etc..). It’s more like “who has the energy to actually try hard tonight?!”

Who has the MOTIVATION to show up with something resembling 100% intensity (usually 80% is enough to win) when playing team defense and attacking the basket? Who has the MOTIVATION to try to rally from a deficit if they fall behind?

That motivation is actually more about freshness and energy. Teams who are jet-lagged and travel weary aren’t going to bring much intensity. Teams who are playing on night two of a back-to-back may barely show up (particularly if they’re in the lower half of the league where results don’t even matter).

I strongly urge NBA handicappers to do the following:

*Chart the schedules so you know what each and every team is doing in terms of game frequency. You MUST know who’s playing on night two of a back-to-back, or in a B2B that’s also the fourth game in five nights, or the fifth game in seven nights. You must know who’s had a couple of days off to get their legs back. Stats, power ratings, trends…none of them matter if one team is fresh and the other is exhausted.

*Chart the travel itineraries so you know which teams are on extended road trips, or which teams have been hopping back and forth with frustrating home/road alternations that wear players down. There’s nothing worse than backing what looks like a “live dog” at +7 only to see the team take the night off because of road weariness. There’s nothing better than being on a favorite at -7 who’s destined to win by 20 because they’re facing a road weary visitor.

*Pay attention to when overtime games occur, and anticipate extended fatigue issues immediately afterward.

*Pay attention to the player rotations in boxscores so you know which rosters are best able to handle fatigue challenges, and which are disasters waiting to happen during the worst part of a schedule.

*Pay attention to ATS performances so you can see which teams will throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. It’s always true in sports betting, but particularly true right now in the NBA…winning often means knowing who to bet AGAINST. Those of you passing on the NBA so far should be kicking yourselves because so many “bet against” teams keep losing big!

I’m not going to talk about specific teams here in the coursework. I have to protect that information for my paying clients. I may well be increasing the volume in the NBA in the very near future because the “dog days” of January have arrived. The holidays are well back in the rearview mirror, and the All-Star Break is still a month away. Dead emotional spots in the schedule are ripe for the picking if you know which teams fare worst in the toughest fatigue scenarios.

You can purchase my top pro and college basketball releases right here at this very website with your major credit card. If you have questions about this week or long term packages, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters home office at 1-888-777-4155. It’s very easy to include my full Super Bowl card with any basketball package that you sign up for.

I won’t talk about the Super Bowl until next week here in the tutorials because I want to give the Las Vegas line more time to settle…and the Wise Guys more time to tip their hand. We’ll go over some more college hoop material the next time we’re together later this week.

Once again, the Dean of Sports Handicapping appreciates all of your hard work. It’s gratifying to know how many of you have turned your performance around by following the advice presented over the months and years in this forum. Now that the NFL is mostly over, I’ll hope you’ll channel some of that pro football energy into pro basketball. You will be rewarded if you focus on the right keys! See you in a few days.

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