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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, June 12, 2015 at 12:00 PM

We’ve split games at both sites so far in the 2015 NBA Championship round featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Cleveland stole a game in Oakland as an 8-point underdog. Golden State finally rose up and played like champions as 4-point favorites Thursday night in Cleveland to even the series.

Before talking about handicapping the rest of the Finals, I want to quickly review the points I made in our last coursework. Hopefully you had that report in the back of your minds as you watched Games 3 and 4. Here’s what I wrote would be the key factors through the week.

*Cleveland’s legs

*Steph Curry’s shooting (he’s due to get hot!)

*Andrew Bogut’s struggles (he’s been a big disappointment)

*Steve Kerr’s adjustments (big results after losses to Memphis and Houston)

*A role player for Cleveland becoming a second-half shotmaker

Let’s take them one by one…

*Cleveland managed to stay fresh Tuesday, though they did blow most of a 20-point lead once they got tired. They never seemed to have anything in the tank Thursday given all of their missed shots (4 of 27 on treys, many of which were open looks). This whole series may ultimately ride on Cleveland’s legs!

*Steph Curry was awful as the team fell behind by 20 points…but then found himself in the rally Tuesday and victory Thursday. He’s still not setting the world on fire. But, he’s no longer a negative in this series.

*Andrew Bogut was so bad that they had to bench him! He didn’t start Game Four, and only ended up playing three minutes because he was awful when on the court. He committed three fouls in those three minutes, and committed the team’s first turnover.

*Steve Kerr didn’t make a relevant adjustment until it was absolutely necessary. That’s a strike against him. But, his switch to small-ball did work brilliantly, both in the Game Three rally and the Game Four blowout. He’s now well-positioned to overcome his slow sense of urgency.

*Nobody stepped up for Cleveland in their loss. Dellavedova certainly made a name for himself with some big shots and hustle in the Game Three victory.

If I may say so myself…my guidance from early in the week was very much in touch with how the series ultimately played out. This is what it means to be a handicapper! Quants can crunch all the numbers they want. But, until they understand the ebb and flow of sports…the moves and counter-moves of complicated chess matches involving PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS…the role that fatigue and THE MOTIVATION FACTOR play when the going gets tough…they’re not going to truly be analysts. (Good luck understanding chess by counting how many spaces a rook moves in a game!) Real-world handicapping is so tough that you can have a decent sense of a series and still time it wrong with bets. Proven winners are few and far between.

Now…how do we handicap these last two or three games? I’m not going to tip my hand in terms of my personal picks. But, I will be focusing on these issues.

*Will having two days before Game Five allow Cleveland to retake control of the flow and tempo of the series? They really took the air out of the ball in the first three games. That act by itself helped disrupt Golden State, who prefers to play faster. Cleveland’s untimely lack of discipline, and their instinct to attack shorter players played right into the Warriors’ hands in Game Four. Cleveland must play slow to win!

*Are Cleveland’s legs already shot? Or, was Thursday just a temporary collapse? LeBron is exhausted. Dellavedova needed IV fluids late Tuesday (really early Wednesday). Cleveland fans have to admit that they may have already seen the best this team has to offer because the gas tank can’t be refilled.

*Can Steph Curry or Klay Thompson go off? Curry has been a big disappointment, particularly for the league MVP. Thompson is capable of stringing together treys, and we’ve seen during the season. Either of those guys could put a game out of reach just by hitting a few bombs in a row.

If you’d like some help finding the best betting options in every game of the NBA Finals, you can purchase those right here at this very website with your major credit card. (And don’t forget about daily baseball!) 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 any weekday or weekends before the first baseball games start. Be sure to ask about combination packages for the month of June, or through baseball’s All-Star Break.

I hope you’ve learned a lot about real nuts-and-bolts analysis through these NBA Playoffs here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I greatly appreciate your continued attendance and hard work. I’ll be back again with you on Monday. That may be a baseball report because we only have one NBA game between now and then. It will probably go this way. If form holds, and 9-point favorite Golden State wins Sunday, I’ll probably talk about baseball. If Cleveland scores another road upset to shock the world, then we’ll talk about that new dynamic heading into Games Six and Seven.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping looks forward to seeing you again soon. Have a great weekend!


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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