Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Thursday Night, the Miami Heat visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on TNT, in one of the most anticipated regular season games of the entire year. That makes this the perfect time to talk about how smart handicappers should use marquee matchups like this to evaluate the readiness of contenders for the challenges that lay ahead.
Oh…don’t sleep on Houston/Golden State in the nightcap either. And, Oklahoma City will be at war again this Sunday when the LA Clippers come to town for a meeting that will be nationally televised by ABC. Things are about to get interesting!
You want to look for “statement” performances. Perhaps more importantly, you want to notice who ISN’T able to make a statement. That’s proven to be a telltale sign in recent seasons for teams who weren’t quite ready yet to win a title. They started showing that after the All-Star Break once other contenders buckled down and got to work.
The stretch run has begun. Here’s what to look for when the best battle the best.
WHO CONTROLS THE RIM?
Though three-point shooting plays a bigger role now than ever before in the sport, playoff games are still largely won within a few feet of the rim. Which defenses are denying easy baskets? Which teams are controlling the boards? Which offenses are able to get cheap buckets on backdoor plays, put backs, or fast breaks when they beat the defense down the floor.
When watching on TV, focus on the paint rather than the ball. Squares watch the ball! You need to watch the area that gets the money. When studying boxscores after the game, be sure you look at 2-point defense, rebounding, and fast break scoring.
WHICH DEFENSES ALLOW OPEN LOOKS ON TREYS
Almost every contending offense has guys who can make treys. You want to know which defenses can lose their focus when it comes to allowing open looks behind the arc. This has been a problem for Miami in recent seasons…but they usually get it fixed in the playoffs. Are they now too old to fix that? We still believe that games are won near the rim. But, when you have two teams who are dead even near the rim, then it’s three-pointers that will typically provide the tie-breaker. The guys on TV will rave about offenses who make treys. YOU need to focus on which defenses are allowing them in these marquee matchups.
TURNOVERS MATTER IN BASKETBALL TOO
Handicappers and sports bettors have a very good sense of the importance of turnovers in football. In basketball, too many barely notice what’s going on. You’d be shocked at how many Las Vegas bettors don’t know who the best and worst offensive turnover teams are among the contenders. And, they’re often completely blind to which defenses thrive at taking the ball away. Defense isn’t just blocking shots down somebody’s throat!
When the elite teams square off, the team committing the fewest turnovers usually wins. Handicappers must study ball protection on offense (avoiding turnover prone point guards who crumble under pressure, and turnover prone big men who lose the ball in traffic). And, they must study takeaways on defense. Many boxscores these days also report on “points off of turnovers.” Make that category part of your arsenal.
When a game like Miami/Oklahoma City is on TV, you know who the announcers will be talking about. But, they’re just saying the same things over and over again from last year’s playoffs, and the year before, and the year before! The networks are marketing superstars. You’re trying to pick winners. Use these marquee matchups (any game involving contenders from the West, plus Miami and Indiana from the East) to learn what you can about the teams who will be playing well into May and June.
And, if you’d like to hit the market where it isn’t really paying much attention, apply the principals you’ve learned today for games involving the rung of Eastern teams that aren’t in the class of Indiana or Miami. Seeds 3-8 will be having their own battles for respectability. A few of those teams are already making statements at this lower level. You can make money with them too!
Of course, you’ll always GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK! You can purchase our daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longer term packages, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. We have programs available that take you through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs. You always get the most bang for your buck with the seasonal options.
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