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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, May 11, 2012 at 2:02 PM

The second round of the NBA Playoffs will begin this weekend. That will bring about a new set of challenges to Las Vegas bettors who are trying to make money betting the baskets. A lot of the same fundamentals still apply of course. But, second round action is different than first round action in a few key ways.

The first difference you need to be aware of is that individual personnel matchups become much more important. Back in the first round, some teams could just overpower their opponents by moving the ball upcourt quickly, or moving the ball around until there was an open shooter. Well, several teams who couldn’t figure out how to deal with that defensively were eliminated in the first round! We’re down to more elite teams now…and most of those play great team defense.

That means each offense is going to look for a weak link that they can attack…and then they’ll get the ball to somebody who can score against that weak link. If you’re trying to handicap a game or the series, you need to figure out whether or not each defense has such a weak link. Bet on the defenses who are most sturdy, particularly as underdogs. Bet against teams who have a vulnerability or two…particularly when favored.

A quick word here about San Antonio in this light. The team has been playing fantastic basketball in recent weeks. But, the defense is more vulnerable than many realize. They may not look as good going forward as they did in the first round or the last three weeks of the season against disinterested opponents. Their second round opponent will be looking for a spot to attack. Should the Spurs reach the Western Finals, that opponent may be even better at attacking weak spots.

Don’t worry so much about records, trends, or stats at this point. Advanced Handicappers can play chess right alongside the head coaches. The second round is when this becomes a vital skill in each and every game.

Secondly, you need to play attention to how teams are handling the grind of the playoffs. There isn’t much fatigue in the first round except in the battles that go the distance. Once you get into the second round, there will be potential mismatches that develop on a given night because one team is still relatively fresh while the other is completely worn down. Look at personnel rotations, minutes played by starters, and eyeball the physicality of each game on TV.

This is where San Antonio may be able to make up for a defensive weakness. A sweep over Utah allowed them to rest for several days. They’ll be playing a tired winner from the Memphis-Clippers series. Oklahoma City will have a big rest advantage over the Lakers-Denver survivor. Chess can get complicated when some of the pieces are wearing cement shoes!

Finally today, I want to point out that having a variety of weapons at your offensive disposal gets more and more important the deeper you get into the playoffs. “Final eight” defenses know how to stop one weapon. Most are pretty good if there are only two weapons to stop. It’s when there are multiple weapons AND role players who can hit treys or tip in misses on the offensive board that offenses become truly dangerous in the second round and beyond.

I’ve always asked you to isolate the PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in every game you handicap…in every sport. You definitely need to do that in the second round of the NBA playoffs as well. But, in addition, make a supplemental list of offensive weapons. Who are the guys who can hit treys? Are there any energy guys off the bench who can create some fast break points? Which teams are best suited to deal with the defensive challenges they’ll be facing?

This additional work will pay off quickly…and will help you develop a deeper understanding of the chess game that the coaches are playing.

Best of luck in the remaining first round action and the start this weekend of the second round. If you’d like some help tackling the challenges ahead, you can purchase my daily selections right here at the website with your credit card. You’ve probably seen the notices that I’ve been on a recent tear. That’s the value of Advanced Handicapping. You’re always in position to outperform the market because you’re digging deeper in your analysis than everyone else in the market!

My next College of Advanced Handicapping coursework will be go up Tuesday. It will either be a basketball or baseball report depending on weekend developments. I’m hoping to read and react through this busy month so you can learn on the fly in real time. (Note, if you’re a baseball fan, I do have a 50-unit major release going Friday Night!)

Thanks again for your continuing attendance at my free College of Advanced Handicapping. The more you learn about handicapping, the more fun it is…and the more money you win!

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