Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, April 25, 2014 at 4:00 PM
After talking so much about parity in baseball in recent days, it may be time to apply that same theme to what we’ve been watching in the first week of the NBA Playoffs. Normally you don’t think of the NBA as being a league of parity. There are huge gulfs from top to bottom. And, this sports lends itself to dynasties because a “best-of-seven” playoff format makes it very hard for underdogs to eliminate the very best.
But, OBVIOUSLY, this first week of action has been all about parity. None of the market favorites in the West were able to win their first two home games. That’s HOME games from the best teams in the best conference! Only defending champion Miami in the East was able to go 2-0 at home. Miami may still be in their dynasty phase…and may be destined to go the distance again this season (which is easier out of the East). With everyone else, the market is learning:
*The FAVORITES aren’t as good as everyone had thought. San Antonio’s artistic style is best against bad or average teams who haven’t mastered the fundamentals. They’re finding out vs. Dallas that there isn’t much margin for error. Oklahoma City’s superstar showcase is vulnerable against smart team basketball. Memphis plays smart team basketball. Indiana hadn’t played like a true #1 seed in months. I’m continually AMAZED by how long it’s taken the market to notice this. Fading Indiana the past two months has been the single best investment in all of global finance.
*The UNDERDOGS are better than everyone had thought. That’s particularly true with Portland and Washington, who were priced as inferior to Houston and Chicago respectively even after you adjusted for home court advantage. Those underdogs went 2-0 straight up on the road…and weren’t remotely outclassed at all. Memphis goes on that list too, as they’ve peaked at the right time while also bringing good health to the postseason. They lead OKC 2-1 at the moment. Dallas has covered its two games with San Antonio by a combined 33 points thanks to improved defense and some smart moves by head coach Rick Carlisle. I’m not ready to put Atlanta on the “good surprise” list because their opponent, Indiana, may be so awful right now that Hawks victories are taking candy from a baby.
*The MEDIA rarely knows what it’s talking about! I’ve harped on this a few times here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. If you listen to the media, you’re going to get torched with your bets. Everybody was picking San Antonio and Oklahoma City to sail through the first round. They’re 1-4 ATS through five games. Chicago enjoyed a “coaching mismatch” over Washington according to the TV pundits. They’re 0-2 ATS with a pair of home losses. We see it every year in basketball. The media hypes the wrong teams during MARCH MADNESS, then makes a few more mistakes in the NBA Playoffs. Here in 2014, we’ve probably seen the most extreme evidence of yet in both of those events. What has the media been RIGHT about so far in the NBA?!
What does all this mean for handicappers moving forward?
*Keep focusing on underdogs until the tide turns
*Keep focusing on defense, particularly inside the arc (soft defenses are losing!)
*Focus on TEAM play rather than individual superstars
*Start paying attention to minutes played and fatigue issues with worn down starters
The fundamentals are even more important in a time of parity. And, many of these teams in the brackets are relatively even with each other even if their head and shoulders above the dregs of the league who are waiting for the draft. The NBA as a whole doesn’t have parity of course. The current NBA brackets do! Keep applying the fundamentals that we’ve discussed in the past…and study those boxscores so you can see which PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS are going to turn mortal because of fatigue within a parity-riddled struggle. When teams are this even, there are few rest breaks.
If you’d like some help finding the best basketball plays on the nightly board, you can purchase my BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. Remember that you get more bang for your buck with longer term packages. If you have any questions, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Full service options that include baseball and Triple Crown horse racing are also available.
I’ll be back early next week for your next class get-together with the Dean of Sports Handicapping. We’ll be talking about both NBA and MLB through the spring and early summer. I’ll be using a “read and react” basis to determine the topic each time. Right now, I’m guessing that we’ll be talking basketball again in our next report. It’s amazing how things are developing right now in the NBA brackets compared to what we’re used to seeing in this sport. I can assure you that Vegas oddsmakers are as confused as they’ve ever been right now because they were getting all of their pre-tournament information from ESPN and TNT! Aren’t you glad YOU were getting your guidance from KELSO STURGEON?!