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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Fitting that I’m writing this on the day of the NBA’s draft lottery, because it feels like teams currently playing in the Conference Finals are holding a kind of lottery to see which lineups have a chance of working.

*The Indiana Pacers have been showing extreme results in the playoffs depending on what 5-man units were on the floor at a given time. Coach Frank Vogel has finally figured out who to de-emphasize and who to give more minutes too. But, given the adjustments that Miami is about to make, Vogel may be making more chances again very soon.

*The Miami Heat were stunned in the opener by how well the Pacers played. The men who were on the floor for Miami were consistently a step slow on defense, and not well positioned on offense. Head coach Erik Spoelstra is well known for tinkering with lineups until he finds the right pieces to stick with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. I can assure you right now that you will see a lot of experimenting in tonight’s Game Two…and probably more this weekend when the series resumes.

*The Oklahoma City Thunder crashed and burned Monday Night when their efforts to play “small ball” against the San Antonio Spurs created defensive holes that Tim Duncan and company could drive trucks through (or around, or over!). There’s absolutely no way they can win the series that way. Scott Brooks must come up with something quick, or that series is going to be over in very short order.

For handicappers, this means you have to watch each game very closely to see which lineups are performing well or poorly. Most importantly, it means you CAN’T use:

 

*Power Ratings

*Regular Season Stats

*Stats from Earlier Playoff Rounds

*Trends or Angles from the Past

Those will largely be meaningless until some sort of dust has settled. Then, you can create new Power Ratings for the new lineups…and calculate stats for what’s happening on the fly for those new lineups. Keep in mind that the keys we talked about last time are still in play. Whatever lineups eventually get chosen by their head coach, PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS will be carrying the heavy load. And, fatigue will become more and more important…though that’s likely to be NEXT week since both matchups have a few days off coming up soon.

Basketball has always been a form of chess, particularly whenever Gregg Popovich or Rick Carlisle are on the sidelines. I can’t recall a “final four” that’s been THIS detached from recent form though. The injury to Serge Ibaka was quite a monkey wrench. But, Indiana’s schizophrenic play the past two months was one as well. Quite a challenge for handicappers, yet quite a great learning opportunity for those of you studying here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. Welcome to the real world! Reality is throwing you into the deep end and asking you to swim. I’m fully confident I won’t have to be throwing you a life jacket.

I have to say though…Las Vegas may be throwing life jackets to its oddsmakers very soon. You know how badly they’ve struggled thus far in the playoffs. Their valuations of home court advantage were way too high in prior rounds. Then, in series openers here, home teams played well! Check this out:

 

Miami at Indiana: Oddsmakers missed team side by 13 points, total by 21 points

OKC at San Antonio: Oddsmakers missed team side by 11 points, total by 18 points

Whenever oddsmakers are in a position of weakness, HANDICAPPERS are in a position of strength!

If YOU are having some trouble finding the right side and totals plays on your own, you can always purchase my top plays in both basketball and baseball 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 or to baseball’s All-Star Break, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

I’ll see you again at the end of the week. That’s likely to be another basketball report because both conference rounds will be off Thursday and Friday before resuming a daily alternating format for the duration. Look for a post time Friday afternoon to outline a topic of interest for Game Three action that will be played Saturday and Sunday.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is proud and humbled to be at your service. It’s been gratifying to hear about so many success stories in all sports since this web feature began a few years ago. I’m fully confident that YOU will make the NBA Playoffs a success because of your focus and hard work. See you again next time.  

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