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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 12:56 PM

The last time we were together I outlined some introductory notes on Advanced Handicapping principals for the NBA Playoffs. As promised, I’m back today to provide further depth that I hope will help your personal approach to the postseason.

If you missed that last web article, the keys I presented were:

*Focusing on personnel matchups

*Emphasizing defense and rebounding

*Looking for offenses who share the load

*Benefiting from slow-moving oddsmakers

*Fading the public

Now that everyone’s watched several games through the opening weekend, let’s dig a big deeper into hardcore basketball.

*As you watch the games and read the boxscores, be sure you’re paying very close attention to what’s happening around the basket. Teams are so evenly matched at this level that victory and defeat is often determined by who scores the most easy points. I’m talking about fast break dunks, tip-ins off misses, putbacks after an offensive rebound, or a dunk from a big guy after a pass out of a double team.

On TV, watch what’s happening in the paint rather than looking at the ballhandler. Gamblers typically watch the ball all the time because they’re rooting for their bets. You’re a handicapper. You’re trying to analyze the series because you want to pick additional winners in future matchups. Focus on the area of the court that will determine which teams cover pointspreads.

In the boxscores, look at how often the centers and forwards are scoring. Is it just a few buckets a game with hardly any free throws? Or, are they among the high scorers for their teams because they’re doing so much damage inside? You may not be able to watch every minute of every game on TV. Boxscores will tell you what you need to know in this regard.

In the first three days of playoff action, teams with the better two-point shooting percentage are 9-2 straight up, and 9-2 against the Vegas pointspread. And, my big Sunday winners on the LA Lakers over Denver and San Antonio over Utah saw dominant edges on easy points.

*Pay attention to tempo, because the team that can force its preferred tempo on a series is going to cover more often than not. You may not be aware that New York-Miami is the slowest series out of the gate. Miami knows that New York can’t guard them…so they set up their offense, work for an opening, then make their shot. The Heat have topped 100 points twice in two games that had 87 and 86 possessions per team.

If you watched Oklahoma City/Dallas Monday Night, you saw Oklahoma City jump to a big early lead with some fast spurts, but then marveled at how Dallas could slow things down to take the Thunder out of their offensive rhythm. If not for free throws, Dallas would have won that game despite trailing by 16 points in the first half.

In every series, think about who wants to play fast, who wants to play slow, and who has the ability to force their preference when the game is on the line. If both teams want to play fast, take the Over and worry less about the team side play. If both teams want to play slow, take the Under. Orlando and Indiana have both been happy at slow paces so far in their series, and the games have landed on 158 and 171.  

There are all sorts of very simplified strategies that you’ll hear people endorse during the playoffs. Do this in this situation, do that if a team is coming off a loss. Hey, some of those work out percentage-wise. But, the coaches and the players aren’t worrying about trends or systems. They’re trying to get the ball in the bucket against whatever the opposing defense is throwing at them. Advanced handicapping means getting in the minds of the coaches and players and playing chess right along with them.

From this point forward for the next several weeks we’ll have a mix of basketball and baseball here in these web tutorials. I don’t want to completely lose track of baseball during the NBA playoffs. I’ll let sports headlines dictate where we go in our next report set to run Friday afternoon.

If you’re concerned that you’re not up to the challenges of Advanced Handicapping right now in the NBA playoffs, you can take the easy way out and sign up for my picks. Daily and full playoff packages are available for credit card purchase right here at this website. I do have a 50-unit NBA Blowout scheduled for Tuesday Night. That provides a great chance for you newcomers to try out my service at an affordable price. More big plays are coming up through the week because I can already see that oddsmakers are being slow to respond to important developments in multiple series.

Thanks for attending today’s class in my online home study course. I look forward to seeing you again soon. May is a great month to be a sports fan!

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