Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, April 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM
I think I’ve uttered that sentence about a dozen times in the last few days when watching either the NBA Playoffs, the NHL Playoffs, or even Major League Baseball. No matter how long you’re a sports bettor or a handicapper (and I’ve been doing this professionally for longer than many of you have been alive), the world of sports is going to bring you something you’ve never seen before on a daily basis.
Because our coursework here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping is all about finding pointspread winners from the reality that confronts us, we need to think through the challenges currently being presented by the “never seen anything like it” complexities in the NBA Playoffs. Some quick thoughts.
*DONALD STERLING AND THE LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The Clippers played so badly Sunday afternoon at Golden State that you have to wonder if they players have mentally thrown in the towel on the season already. They were a step or two slow on defense from the outset. You can’t stop the Warriors shooters playing like that. They were turnover prone and frustrated on offense, outside of Blake Griffin trying to carry the team on his shoulders like the superhero he plays on TV commercials. You watched a team that was absolutely shell-shocked.
Will that continue? I’ll be following media reports that include comments from key players like Chris Paul. And, I’ll be watching Game Five Tuesday Night in LA very closely to see if the team gets its fire back on both sides of the ball. Again, look at team defensive rotations and offensive synchronicity when evaluating if the Clippers have regained the needed focus.
*INDIANA PACERS LATE COLLAPSE
This has been the big story before the weekend! But, the Pacers managed a road win Saturday to even up their series with Atlanta at two games apiece. Then, other headlines knocked them off the front page. As handicappers, you still have at least two more Pacers games to pick, and possibly a month more if they can keep playing to pointspread expectations in this series and the next.
Can the Pacers challenge Miami in the East? I’m still not seeing top level play. But, putting Roy Hibbert on the bench down the stretch sure seems to be helping. And, some of the “poisons” in the locker room seem to be getting fewer minutes off the bench too. Frank Vogel seems to be finding who’s there to win and who isn’t. That group can win this series vs. lowly Atlanta, and may not be overmatched by Washington in the next round (assuming the Wizards finish off the Bulls). I’m fully convinced we won’t see “the best” of Indiana any more this season. That 33-7 team from the first half of the season doesn’t exist any more. I need to see 48 minutes of intense defense and good ball movement on offense before I consider betting the Pacers aggressively moving forward.
*OVERTIMES, OVERTIMES EVERYWHERE!
Portland and Houston played their third overtime in the first four games Sunday Night. Something like that would have seemed almost impossible accept Memphis and Oklahoma City had just done the same thing the night before! You can already see it with the players now…but these extended periods of crunch time play at peak intensity are absolutely exhausting all the participants.
Moving forward, handicapping each series will involve determining who’s best able to handle fatigue (because of team depth, excelling at a slower pace, and having the legs to execute in the final minutes). In the next round, whoever survives those two series could be in trouble unless they happen to fade opponents who also have to go the distance. As I write this, that’s certainly possible.
Clearly, fatigue issues are going to be important the rest of the way in the Western brackets. And the eventual NBA Championship round may be strongly influenced by how easy or hard Miami (or a surprise representative) had it on their particular pathway. Face it…Miami is coasting through scrimmages right now, while the West has been an all-out war.
If you see any team right now struggling to make jumpers in crunch time because of tired legs, you’re already seeing who’s going to struggle later this week and through much of May when seasons are on the line. Regular season stats, math models, and Power Ratings won’t matter much because playoffs are nothing like the regular season. You’ve seen that already…and the difference is only going to be more stark moving forward.
Often, being The Dean of Sports Handicapping means reminding you about the lessons of history. Right now, it’s much more about guiding you through history as it’s happening! I’m honored that you allow me to do so. If you’d like more direct assistance with nightly basketball, you can purchase my BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. If you have any questions about packages that take you through the rest of the NBA Playoffs, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.
I’ll be back later week for either a basketball or baseball report depending on developments. I’m going to “read and react” as headlines warrant. This time of year the coursework really comes alive. I greatly appreciate the hard work of so many attentive students. Best of luck to you this week.