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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 1:00 PM

It’s very important that you bring peak focus and attention to the first few weeks after the NBA All-Star Break. The best teams do! Too many handicappers want to give everyone a few days to get back into the flow. History has made it clear that there are proven strategies smart bettors should be following.

First, the best teams are NOW playing like the games matter. Elite teams who had been pacing themselves through the first 50 games now want to crank things up to get into playoff form. The starters play with more intensity and play more minutes if needed. Head coaches don’t let the bench slack off with a lead because they’re going to need bench contributions in the postseason. And, of course…it’s not just about getting ready. Playoff positioning matters so much… contenders are playing for a good seed if one is in reach.

If you work your way slowly into the new schedule, you’ll miss a lot of pointspread blowouts from high quality teams playing at peak intensity. It’s the ideal time for students of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping who focus on PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS to really ride those guys for big money. 

Second, playoff caliber teams will play playoff-style games against each other. It’s not right to say that “the playoffs begin now,” because losing isn’t as damaging. But, you’re going to see halfcourt chess matches involving high level personnel now when contenders are squaring off. That’s particularly true if there are no back-to-back issues involved. Fresh teams will go at it hard because they want to send a message to opponents while establishing their own readiness. Handicap accordingly. That could mean taking Unders in certain matchups. In others, that means reading the chess match and taking the better positioned team at a line near pick-em.

Third, teams are now playing to their strengths in terms of Over/Unders. The best defensive teams will play more Unders because they’re emphasizing defense for the full 48 minutes (just as they will in the playoffs). Teams who emphasize pace and offensive flow will play more Overs because they’re executing at a very high level. Vegas oddsmakers have always had troubles with NBA totals anyway. They will really miss the mark the next few weeks with several teams if history is any indicator.

Fourth and finally, teams who need to tank for draft position in the lottery will really go in the tank. They just can’t risk accidentally winning a game! Maybe they’ll show up once or twice a week to keep it from being too obvious. But, bad teams need to lose for the future sake of their franchise. That means benchwarmers will get extra minutes, and decent starters will have to sit out with minor injuries. You do have to be careful because some of the pointspreads will get pretty high (particularly on the road). Focus on the worst 4-5 teams in each conference and try to find spots to fade them at affordable prices on their home floor.

I know that most of you prefer betting college basketball at this time of year. You’re all excited about the road to March Madness. Hey, I am too! But, I know that every dollar I win betting the NBA in February and March can be used to pump up my bankroll for the tournaments. You’re not just leaving money on the table when you ignore the NBA. You’re leaving the money you “could” have been making down the road with that increased bankroll.

Here’s your homework:

*Study the standings very closely on a day-to-day basis

*Learn the strengths and weaknesses of all the contenders

*Pay particular attention to offensive and defensive “efficiency” (per possession)

*Study third and fourth quarter performances of the most likely tankers

*Keep an eye on the injury reports, particularly for non-contenders

*Study Over/Under tendencies for each team as the new reality takes shape

There are only 30 teams, so it’s not hard to get up to speed even if you haven’t been following the sport closely. Heck, it’s possible to start from scratch and do well just because these proven fundamentals are so solid.

There are some really good games you should at least monitor right out of the gate so you can get your head in the right place…

Thursday: Dallas at Oklahoma City

Thursday: San Antonio at the LA Clippers

Friday: Toronto at Atlanta

Friday: Cleveland at Washington

Friday: Houston at Dallas

Friday: San Antonio at Golden State

Wow…that might be your top four in the East (or top five with Chicago) along with six Western powers going head to head as the new session begins. It hardly feels like homework if you’re watching great games like that!

If you’d like some help finding the best basketball bets on the board each night (college and pro), you can get those right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. This is a great time to ask about extended service through March Madness and the NBA Playoffs.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you early next week to talk about college basketball. I’ve said enough today about the NBA. Now it’s time to quietly take advantage of these edges while the market lags. It will be basketball only until baseball arrives in early April. Most of our coverage will be in the colleges because that’s what you’ve asked for. Just be sure you’re making the most of what BOTH college and pro basketball have to offer!


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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