NBA: Refined zig zag theory can prove a playoff zinger

Updated: April 23, 2014


Western Conference round 1, game 2: Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs; AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX; Thursday, April 24, 10.10am (San Antonio leads 1-0)

I thought we’d start with something a little different today and look at one of the most popular NBA playoff betting strategies. Many punters swear by “zig zagging”, which basically means betting the team that lost the previous game. As a blanket approach, it’s a very marginal play. The overall successful of the zig-zag theory was 55.5 per cent in the decade 1991-2001 but just 51 per cent since. The trick to the zig zagging is picking the right spots. For instance, teams that experience a blowout loss normally bounce back with a stronger effort so there’s an opportunity to exploit artificially inflated lines. But our favourite use of the zig zag theory is to use only when relevant for the handful of elite teams in the League. For instance, it’s a much smarter play to zig zag on the Spurs, Thunder or Heat than the Hawks, Wizards or Warriors.

There are three playoff games scheduled for today with two of the three series favourites leading after the opening game and we’ll be sticking with the “zig” rather than the “zag” when Dallas meets the Spurs in San Antonio for game 2 of their quarter-final series. Dallas went without a meaningful basket for the final eight minutes of the 90-85 loss to the Spurs in game 1. It’s hard to imagine Dallas knocking off the team with the NBA’s best record as long if Dirk Nowitzki has 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting once again. The Spurs were one of the hottest teams down the stretch, finishing the regular season on a 22-4 SU run at 18-8 ATS. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can now be let loose after coach Gregg Popovich carefully managed their playing time late in the regular season.


Confirmed bets

Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs -7.5 (one unit @ $1.92) – the line movement in this game doesn’t make much sense. The Spurs (62-20 SU, 45-37 ATS) rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Mavericks (49-33 SU, 44-38 ATS) but Dallas covered the 9.5-point line. It took the Spurs three quarters to hit their straps in game 1, but expect them to hit the ground running here and pick-up an 11th successive win over the Mavericks.

Eastern Conference round 1, game 2: Charlotte Bobcats @ Miami Heat -9.5 (one unit @ $1.92); AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL; Thursday, April 24, 9am (Miami leads 1-0) – both sides have injury concerns but Al Jefferson’s jogger’s heel is more of a concern than the bruised knee of Mario Chalmers. Despite walking into the American Airlines Arena with a walking boot, Jefferson expects to play. He leads the Bobcats in points and rebounds this season. Heat by double figures once again, thanks.


Western Conference round 1, game 2: Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets; Toyota Center, Houston, TX; Thursday, April 24, 11.40am (Portland leads 1-0) – game total +214.5


Yesterday’s results: 0-0-2, -2.0 units; total record: 110-6-83, +25.47 units; playoff record: 2-0-4, -2.16 units

Atlanta Hawks +7.5 @ Indiana Pacers (one unit @ $1.92) LOSE (85-101)

Washington Wizards @ Chicago Bulls -5 (one unit @ $1.92) LOSE (101-99)

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Time (AET); prices with thanks to Bet365 (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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