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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, April 13, 2018 at 3:00 PM

I’ve been handicapping and beating the NBA Playoffs since before many of you were born. The game has changed a lot over the years. I think for the better, though some would say it’s for the worse. People used to think Michael Jordan’s championship level didn’t measure up to “the good old days” of Bill Russell’s Celtics. Now people are saying modern stars don’t measure up to Jordan. In 20 years, people might be thinking of the 2010’s as the glory years compared to 2038.

While the sport has changed a lot, my basic fundamentals haven’t changed. Though, I admit I’ve had to tweak them with this newest style of NBA basketball.

*PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS

You want to bet on the guys who are going to win games for you. That used to be one main guy, like Jordan or Kobe (granting the stellar supporting casts that those players led). Now, it’s more about the volume of weaponry that can attack from all over. The GAMEBREAKERS right now are the guys who can make open treys, or whip the ball around the arc to a teammate so he can make an open trey. The PLAYMAKERS are the ball handlers who will attack the rim if you let them, but pull up to drain a step back trey if you give them too much room.

Your homework this weekend is to study three-point shooting on all 16 playoff teams. You want to know who makes it a point of emphasis, and who’s still stuck in the dark ages of “ground and pound” basketball. Also, you want to know how many trey-shooters each offense has. VOLUME is what matters most right now. Contributions off the bench are often the tie-breaker in important games.

Then, as you watch games this weekend, make note of the defenses which do the best and worst job of chasing down shooters around the arc. It’s easy to forget the defensive element of this angle. I’m confident in saying that a significant number of point spread covers in the coming days will come down to which defenses are a step slow, and which defenses force shooters to make guarded looks.

*THE MOTIVATION FACTOR

Yes, everybody’s fired up in the playoffs. Or, they’re supposed to be. But, the single biggest factor for finding BIG bets that cash your tickets safely is to recognize when the inferior team has given up. This is when 15-point, 20-point, and even 30-point blowouts occur. Vegas bettors used to love the zig-zag theory. Now, favorites are much more interested in getting things over with quickly…which has made four-game sweeps or 4-1 series decisions much more common. The zig-zag only works in the most competitive matchups.

Your homework in this regard is to go back and review last year’s opening round series. Study the scoreboard sequences in every one of them. See if you can spot when the lesser team gave up. See if you can determine which head coaches or collections of talent NEVER gave up. This is going to matter for you next week, possibly as early as next weekend.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking THE MOTIVATION FACTOR doesn’t matter in the playoffs. That’s true in football or college basketball, when every game is a knockout. A lack of hope is a killer late in a one-sided series. Oddsmakers haven’t come close to recognizing that reality.

In terms of money management strategy, KELSO STURGEON is usually conservative out of the gate…focusing on matchup advantages initially…then really stepping up with major releases of the 100-unit and 200-unit variety once THE MOTIVATION FACTOR has kicked in. Maybe that will come in a bounce-back spot after a loss for a good team. Maybe it will be in one of the blowout scenarios I just discussed fading a towel-tosser. I suggest you follow the same general approach unless you’ve spotted what you believe to be a major Las Vegas mistake in this weekend’s lines.

Betting the playoffs is a marathon, but it features occasional special situations where you have to act quickly. All of you fine students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping must be ready for both. Pace yourself for the two-month trip to the Championship round, but stay alert for scenarios that offer gold mine opportunities.

We’ll talk more about the playoffs in the coming days, probably at least once a week through the Finals. I want to make sure the coursework stays on top of both basketball and baseball through April, May, and June. As I mentioned last time, we’ll be holding two classroom sessions per week through the spring and summer.

If you’d like additional basketball and baseball assistance on a daily basis, KELSO STURGEON’S BEST BETS 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 by calling office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. I do have great rates for extended packages that go through the NBA Playoffs, the MLB all-star break, or the full baseball season.

Our coursework is designed for do-it-yourselfers. If you’re not ready for that challenge yet, my advisory service is there to help. The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your hard work and attendance. Best of luck to you with your decisions this weekend. See you again Monday afternoon.  

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