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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, February 1, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Last week I talked about the challenges of handicapping the Cleveland Cavaliers after they fired David Blatt as head coach. So far, so good for the Cavs…as they looked very impressive in routing the San Antonio Spurs this past Saturday night. This week, another coach has fallen. Monday morning, the Phoenix Suns announced that they had fired Jeff Hornacek. This move surprised nobody…and probably should have been done weeks ago.

Now, I want to be clear here that I’m not saying Hornacek should have been fired because he was doing a terrible job. He’s the same man he was last season when the Suns made a surprising run to respectability. They were supposed to be a threat to make the Western playoffs this year as a young up-and-comer. Instead…a few things happened to destroy their season.

*Some of their youngsters got paid

*Some of their youngsters decided they didn’t like being told what to do

*An old school mindset like Hornacek’s hates dealing with spoiled youngsters

*Management hadn’t put together a really balanced roster with dynamic weaponry

*It all just BLEW UP!

Phoenix had become the new Philadelphia 76ers. Except the team wasn’t tanking for draft position. They were tanking because the players hated the coach and vice versa. Nobody tanking for the draft starts a season 6-4 straight up, with a win over the L.A. Clippers. But, those problems took hold fairly quickly into the new season. The Suns are 8-31 since that 6-4 start…and are an amazing 2-19 straight up their last 21 games. In a league with a lot of beatable teams!

Hornacek had to be fired because the players were basically holding the season hostage until he was. They weren’t going to play for him.

Las Vegas oddsmakers had serious trouble “catching down” to Phoenix’s new poor level of play. For the season, the team is 18-31 against the spread…with some of the worst results coming most recently. Though, the team did establish a bit of a pattern. They were basically 50/50 to show up and compete at home…in front of friends and family. On the road? Utter no-shows. Phoenix is 1-13 ATS its last 14 road games even though the market knew they were tanking! There was just no way to get the lines to where they needed to be.

And…this is where you students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping really need to be paying attention. There’s currently no way to be sure what level the Suns will be playing at moving forward! Oddsmakers are completely FLYING BLIND about what’s going to happen this week and beyond.

*If the players respond positively, they may jump back from being a Western Conference version of Philadelphia to a mid-level team that will get some results moving forward. I wouldn’t suggest “playoff caliber.” But, just showing up with an effort would lift the team a few points in Power Ratings. Maybe they’ll now be about a .500 caliber team straight up moving forward.

*If the players don’t like the new coach, they’ll just keep showing up with poor efforts to cash their paychecks.

*If the players like the coach, but management decides its best to just “tank out the season” for the draft lottery…then we won’t see that improvement until next season.

It can’t be coincidental that Hornacek was fired at the end of a road trip. Phoenix is about to start a SEVEN-game homestand (five before the All-Star Break, two after) that will give the new coach a great opportunity to get things started well. The players are less likely to no-show home games…so now was the PERFECT time to show the community that change is in the air. Here’s the coming schedule…

Tuesday: vs. Toronto

Thursday: vs. Houston

Saturday: vs. Utah

Monday: vs. Oklahoma City

February 10: vs. Golden State

February 19: vs. Houston

February 21: vs. San Antonio

Wow…all home games but a BRUTAL slate of opponents! It’s clear to me that messages are going to be sent in those games. Either Phoenix gets results against good opposition. Or, the players learn that you just can’t turn it on and off in this league when matched up against quality. For our purposes as bettors, we need to figure things out before the oddsmakers do. The best way to do THAT is to watch those games, read body language on the floor…on the bench…and during timeouts, and read boxscores to discover strengths and weaknesses of the “new” Suns.

Throw out the stats, trends, and angles from the first half of the season. A new era is about to begin. You’ll make money if you can solve some mysteries before the market does.

I’m The Dean of Sports Handicapping because I’ve been learning and teaching for longer than anyone else in the industry. If you’d like some help making your final Las Vegas betting choices every day, KELSO STURGEON’S top plays can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters’ office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

Thanks for your attendance. Your homework today is very clear…start paying more attention to the Phoenix Suns! I’ll be back with you in a couple of days with some college basketball coursework. Then, we’ll talk about handicapping Super Bowl 50 matching the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers at the end of the week. Big week!


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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