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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 7:00 AM

I’m about to take a little hiatus from the day-to-day grind of running my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I wanted this last class discussion before the break to cover the NBA, since the championship chase will be front and center in very short order.

What matters most to KELSO STURGEON when handicapping the games that matter most in the NBA? Obviously we start with PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. This category often cancels out in the later rounds when the great teams start playing each other. But, in early playoff action…particularly in a best-of-seven format that really makes it difficult for inferior teams to advance…you always want to bet on the best players to win and cover. Make them prove they CAN’T cover spreads before you give up on them.

In the NBA, PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS come in all shapes and sizes. Your points of emphasis should be:

*Guys who create scoring opportunities out of halfcourt sets

*Three-point shooters

*Defensive playmakers who affect shots and grab rebounds

The next champion will have all of those, even if the mainstream media will tend to focus on one or two categories at the expense of the others. Don’t bet on teams who don’t make plays defensively. Don’t bet on teams who ONLY win with defense because it takes a talented offense to go deep in the playoffs. Playoff winners have GAMEBREAKERS on both ends of the floor.

The second most important factor to me is a tweak on THE MOTIVATION FACTOR that always looms so large in my sports betting approach. In terms of the playoffs, most every team is “motivated.” They’re trying to win a championship. But, what often happens, particularly in the earlier rounds, is that the lesser threats see the writing on the wall and lose their will to fight. Call it THE DISCOURAGEMENT FACTOR. Once a team has given up hope, they’re just going to get steamrolled. Do your best to read body language, and then look at hustle stats in the boxscores for evidence that teams have given up hope. Most blowout covers in the NBA can be linked to THE DISCOURAGEMENT FACTOR.

I want to also talk briefly about a common topic come playoff time…variations of “the zig zag theory.” You’ve probably heard a bunch of different versions. But, the basic fundamental of this approach is that you want to bet “bounce backs” with teams off a loss…particularly the favorites in a given series if they happen to lose…or any quality team in a “backs-to-the-wall” situation. This worked great many years ago. I’m not nearly as fond of it now because top teams have learned that it’s advantageous to get series over with quickly because rest is so important. The best teams don’t have as many “flat spots” as favorites that allow their opponents to zig-zag back to a win off a loss!

So, it’s okay to back the superior team off a bad game…but I wouldn’t zig-zag all the time. Let the bounce-back work for you when you already have advantages in PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS who need to respond after a poor outing.

Finally, let’s touch on the most important statistics to monitor.



Two-point Shooting Percentages Allowed


Turnovers Forced

Overall Defensive Efficiency (points allowed per possession)

It may be an overstatement to say that “defensive wins championships.” I can tell you this though…you’re not winning a championship with a mediocre or poor defense! Golden State was much better defensively last year than the mainstream media realized. Handicappers who don’t pay enough attention to defense are going to lose their money.



Three-Point Shooting (percentage and volume)

Turnover Avoidance

Ability to Draw Free Throw Attempts

Overall Offensive Efficiency (points scored per possession)

It’s easy to fall in love with the Kobe Bryant type of player who tries to carry his team on his shoulders through the playoffs. But, the game has evolved way past that now because it was such a low-percentage way to play! Good offenses work the ball around for open looks. They make smart passes and don’t dribble into heavy traffic trying to force things. And, possibly most importantly these days, they make a lot of three-pointers off of all that ball movement.

Focus on these factors, and I’m confident all of you do-it-yourselfers will have a wonderful spring and early summer. Do the work it takes to be informed, and then profit from being better informed than the market.

If you’d like some help along the way, KELSO STURGEON’S BEST BETS can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages (basketball AND baseball) can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155, or on weekends before the first games get started

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates all of your attendance and hard work since this web feature began many years ago. I trust that you’re well-prepared for the challenges at hand during this hiatus. Go make some money!


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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