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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 5:00 PM

The NBA Playoffs will be transitioning to Round Two this weekend. As I write this, we already know that the Golden State Warriors will face the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday in the West. The other three series will be locked in soon…as Houston, Washington, and Cleveland await the winners of San Antonio/LAC, Atlanta/Brooklyn, and Chicago/Milwaukee respectively. If you’re reading this on Friday, the picture may have clarified even more.

I’m not going to talk specifics because I have to protect possible releases for my clients. But, I will give all of you students of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping some guidelines to follow.

First, a very quick review of the basics that we’ve been touching on already.


*Look for multiple weaponry because “1-on-5” just doesn’t work in the modern game

*Evaluate THE MOTIVATION FACTOR on a game-by-game basis, particularly later in each series when the trailer may be tempted to throw in the towel.

In the first round, we saw some really early laydowns. Toronto gave up shockingly soon. Though Dallas and Portland managed to grab home wins…they really weren’t competitive through the bulk of their showdowns with Houston and Memphis. Some of you may be thinking that there’s no way any of the “final eight” teams could give up hope in the middle of their new series. WRONG! There’s actually strong potential for this all over the brackets!

*MEMPHIS could easily fall behind and give up hope vs potent Golden State. A lucky draw vs. injured Portland won’t do anything to help them step up in class vs. the best team in the NBA.

*HOUSTON also had a lucky early draw…and could start to tune out head coach Kevin McHale if they have trouble vs. San Antonio (or the LA Clippers if Chris Paul and company rally). This is less likely because it’s a state rivalry. But…remember how so many of San Antonio’s opponents last year lost the will to fight. It could happen again if the treys start falling like theyd did last year for the Spurs.

*WASHINGTON was actually very unimpressive down the stretch of the regular season. Randy Wittman was supposedly hours away from being fired. This is a team that could definitely break into factions if things start poorly vs. Atlanta (were Brooklyn to rally back in a shocker, I wouldn’t expect the Wizards to have much trouble with Paul Pierce’s former team!).

*CHICAGO has a way of disappearing when things start to go poorly (a label that’s stuck to Pau Gasol in recent years).

*CLEVELAND lost Kevin Love…and may find that having only two serious weapons (on a team with a poor bench) isn’t enough to get the job done this season. Don’t forget that Cleveland really fell apart in the first half of the season for a few weeks. Many of the same bench players are still around from that disappointment.

I don’t mean to suggest that Golden State, San Antonio, and Atlanta are going to be locks. We could have some really great battles in the second round. My point today is that THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is still a very big deal. Moving to the second round doesn’t change that.

Some quick homework for you:

*Focus on how each offense is likely to attack on offense. You’ve seen enough of these teams to know that off the top of your head. Frankly, if you don’t know that off the top of your head…you should pass the first game or two of each series to get caught up! How does Golden State score points? Memphis? What’s kept Atlanta from scoring at its regular season pace? Will Cleveland be too predictable without Love?

*Then, evaluate how each defense is suited to stopping that particular strength. Some teams have little hope of stopping James Harden. Some can at least slow him down. Some teams are slow on the outside defensively, which makes them extremely vulnerable to three-point offenses. Others can scoot around and deny open looks. Review the best defensive efficiency marks from the regular season (points allowed per possession). Go over the Defensive Player of the Year voting to see which “stoppers” may come into play.

The smartest TV pundits will emphasize that matchups rule the day in modern basketball. That used to be more about 1-on-1 scenarios. Now, it’s more about tactics. (By the way, the worst analysts focus on “legacy” and “what a win would mean to this player” kind of nonsense…you’re trying to pick winners not write a novel!)

That’s your framework…PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in how they match up against the opposing defense…followed by how THE MOTIVATION FACTOR can put a big black cloud over a team that’s not well-suited for this particular battle.

For those of you looking for additional guidance, you can purchase my personal selections as the first round ends and the second round begins. Those are always available right here at this very website. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Call during normal business hours.

Thanks once again for your time and effort. I personally believe that oddsmakers are going to have some conundrums to deal with in the second round that will open the door to big winners. Take what you’ve learned from The Dean of Sports Handicapping and walk through that door!


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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