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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, April 12, 2019 at 12:00 PM

I would argue that the most extreme adjustment for handicappers between any sport’s regular season and its playoff occurs in the NBA. It’s not a totally different game. Players still have to throw a ball through a hoop. But, the strategies and energy behind how that gets accomplished are much different.

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been winning Super Bowls forever. Big money franchises still rule Major League Baseball by accumulating all the pitching and hitting talent. College basketball teams don’t coast through their conference schedules to save themselves for postseason tournaments.

The NBA goes from being a travelling circus to intense competition in a finger snap.  What I call THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is now front and center. Nobody is coasting any more. You won’t hear about anybody being rested for “load management.” Loads were being managed so players would be ready for NOW. Everybody is ready to bring peak intensity. This means handicappers must focus on skill sets and strategies.

The good news is…this is manageable, even EASY if you know what you’re doing. You just have to get into the minds of the head coaches. What opponent weaknesses are they trying to attack? Which PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS will be emphasized most in the offensive flow? Who can use a defensive stopper off the bench to turn a game (or a series) around.

Your homework between now and first tipoffs this weekend is to review straight up and against the spread records over the past three seasons for all 16 head coaches in the playoff brackets. Anything further back will be “old news” in terms of basketball’s evolution. Make it a point of emphasis to know which coaches know how to win (and win big enough to cover), and which are exposed for being in “over their heads” in the playoffs.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping doesn’t mean to suggest that the players don’t matter. Obviously the players matter. But, everybody already knows the players very well. There are few secrets. Betting markets have been slow in recent years to react to head coaching strengths and weaknesses. This is where much of your money will be made. Your “game of the year” caliber bets will likely come from going against an outclassed head coach rather than asking a superstar to be a superstar. Games are already priced on the assumption that superstars will have big performances.

Do you know when superstars matter most in the point spread? That’s kind of a trick question. It’s when they get injured and can’t play! Oddsmakers have trouble properly pricing the absence of a key player. Some teams can absorb the loss while barely losing a step because of talent depth and smart coaching. Others fall apart immediately, shattering like an old vase.

Because pro basketball is more physical than ever, you can be certain that injuries will happen over the next several weeks. Plan ahead so you’re not caught by surprise. Your other homework, which doesn’t have to be a rush, is to estimate the point impact on the line for an injury to each of the three best players on every playoff team. That’s less than 50 guys. You can have that done in a week.

Or, if you prefer, just do that for players on the eight series favorites who are most likely to advance. Those PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS will matter the most, and are most likely to see their teams involved in long, drawn-out series where bettors can take advantage of absences.

As the postseason progresses, focus on THESE areas as you watch games and read box scores.

*Three-point shooting consistency

*Having a wide base of scoring options

*Rebounding dominance, particularly on defense

*Defenses that force bad shots or shot clock violations

*Offenses that can get good looks late in close games

As each series progresses, see if you can tell when a trailing team is ready to throw in the towel. Sometimes, it happens by the second game! I’ve noticed in recent seasons that it’s becoming easier and easier to read body language for when the lesser team in a matchup “breaks.” They know they don’t have a chance to advance, and they lose their will to battle on both ends of the floor.

I trust students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping will know to aggressively attack any convergences of today’s themes. Invest in healthy teams with good head coaches who execute the fundamentals at fair prices vs. badly coached teams who have given up. You’ll cover these games by double digits.

For my paying customers, I won’t have HUGE releases every single day. But, I am confident I’ll make money for you from now through the last game of the championship finals. And, there will be some monsters along the way. There always are!

KELSO STURGEON’S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling my office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure you check on packages that include the NBA Playoffs and Major League Baseball.

Thanks very much for you attendance and attention. I have full confidence that you’ll make the most of this NBA postseason. Just by showing up for class, you’ve established that you’re serious about winning. Doing the homework exercises I assign shows that you’re willing to do the extra work it takes to become a winner. Roughly 99% of the general public is neither serious nor willing to do the work. Congratulations on being a 1-percenter.

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