NBA First Round May be One-Sided
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Kelso Sturgeon - Contributing Sportsbook Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If the opening weekend of the 2015 NBA Playoffs is any indication, handicappers and sports bettors may be in for some very one-sided first round series that lack drama and intensity. It's dangerous to draw conclusions from just one game. But, when that one game is consistent with issues that had been present prior to the postseason...then you can draw safer conclusions.

Some quick examples:

BROOKLYN isn't a playoff caliber team by traditional standards. If you're #8 in the East, you're pretty bad! Even while covering a spread, they didn't look at all like a team that was ready to scare Atlanta. The Hawks were very sluggish down the stretch while coasting to a non-cover win.

BOSTON isn't a playoff caliber team either. Great bunch of kids who are going to hustle their butts off. But, in a normal season, they'd already be on vacation and thinking about next year. They can hang with the Cavs for spurts when their three-pointers are falling. Otherwise, they're not a real threat unless LeBron James or Kyrie Irving get hurt.

MILWAUKEE's inexperience and lack of offense was a huge problem in their opener against Chicago. They're not a playoff caliber team either by traditional standards, and their particular weaknesses are even a bigger issue in playoff-style basketball. They may have a moment or two in this series...but the Bulls will have to fall back for things to get truly interesting.

DALLAS was in awful form down the stretch by Western Conference standards. There's no chemistry on the team. Dirk's age is really showing on defense. Rajon Rondo was a gamble that didn't work. Can they play a solid 48-minute game more than once in their matchup with Houston?

PORTLAND has been decimated by injuries, and didn't look like a team that can win four games in the next six from Memphis. Too bad...because the Blazers deserved better luck. You have to play with whoever suits up. Tough draw in a killer conference.

NEW ORLEANS impressed me Saturday with their come-from-way-behind effort. But, they're just flat overmatched by the outstanding Golden State Warriors. You can't really point to a glaring negative with the Pelicans, outside of inexperience. This isn't a team that's imploding before our eyes or anything. But, can they make this a truly compelling series? For now, that's unlikely.

I talked last time here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping about how THE MOTIVATION FACTOR can take the form of towel-tossers having no motivation as a series progresses. I think handicappers need to pay very close attention to how the teams I just listed up above perform in their Game Two challenges Monday through Wednesday. Pointspreads project those teams to lose Game Two. That sets up the following when they head home with little hope:

  • A no-show as early as Game Three (though I wouldn't expect that to be universal)
  • A no-show in Game Four letdown if they happened to win Game Three
  • A definite no-show in Game Four if they fall behind 3-0!

    Clearly I'll be stepping out on some good teams at affordable prices in Game Fours. That's next week. THIS week, I'm already studying blowout possibilities in Games Two and Three for exploiting teams who may have already tossed their towels. There are some teams that just don't have workable options for providing sustained competition in their current matchups. You saw how often the Vegas line missed the mark by wide margins in the opening weekend. That's likely to continue.

    Your homework:

  • Study the teams I outlined above from a perspective of boxscore "hustle" stats in their series openers. If you see teams getting outclassed on the boards, getting outscored in fast-break points, and getting outplayed in the turnover department...when they're supposed to be EXCITED about Game One...you can only imagine what's going to happen when the doldrums really kick in.

  • Study the teams I outlined above from a perspective of "two-point defense." Once a team loses its fight, it tends to give up a lot of easy buckets. They get surprised for backdoor cuts. They don't rotate to stop jumpers. They don't help quickly enough if an opposing star has a matchup advantage. Bad chemistry shows up with soft inside defense!

  • FEIST: NBA Stretch Run - The Best of the West
  • STURGEON: NBA First-Round may be one-sided
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