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Playoff Notebook: 2nd Round Update

   by Larry Ness - 05/15/2008

The two major storylines from the first round were Boston getting extended to seven games by Atlanta and the lack of a "great" series out West, where all eight playoff qualifiers had won 50 or more games. Home teams went 30-14 SU and 25-18-1 ATS but that number was somewhat misleading, as the Atlanta/Boston series went 7-0 SU and ATS for the home teams. That meant home teams went a more modest 23-7 SU and just 18-18-1 ATS in the other seven series.


However, there is nothing misleading about what home teams have done in the second round of the playoffs. Home teams are an incredible 19-1 SU in games played through May 14, with only the Pistons breaking through with a 90-89 win in Orlando over the Magic in Game 4 of that series. Home teams also went 14-3-1 ATS the first 18 games of the second round, before both Boston and LA won their respective Game 5s at home on Wednesday night, with neither team covering.


That still gives home teams a 14-5-1 ATS mark in the second round through 20 games, as home teams seem destined to produce their highest playoff winning percentage since they went 54-28 (.750) in the 1990 postseason. In games played through May 14, home teams have gone 49-15 SU (that's .766) and 39-23-2 ATS. 'Unders' still outnumber 'overs' for those playing totals, 34-to-28 with two pushes.


Updating those following the "Zig-Zag" theory (ie: playing 'on' the SU loser of the previous game), things haven't gone well in the second round. Zig-Zaggers opened the first round just 2-6 ATS but finished "with a rush," going 19-8-1 the last 28 opportunities to finish the first round at 21-14-1 or up 5.6 net games. However, the Zig-Zag theory is just 5-10-1 ATS in the second round (through May 14), leaving players 26-24-2 for the entire postseason.


All four of the second-round series saw the home teams go up 2-0. In NBA playoff history, home teams going up 2-0 in a seven game series have gone on to win 168 of 178 times (94.4 percent). However, two of those 10 losses came during last year's postseason, as the Jazz overcame an 0-2 start in Houston to beat the Rockets in seven games in the first round and the Cavs won four straight over the Pistons in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, after dropping the first two games in Detroit.


Speaking of Detroit, the Pistons have already advanced to their sixth straight conference final, by eliminating the Magic in five games. However, the other three series all saw the teams down 0-2 return home and win two games, evening those series at two-all. Now again, NBA history tells us that in seven-game series tied at 2-all, the Game 5 winner has gone on to win 118 of 141 previous times (83.7 percent). It also told us that the home teams in those Game 5s were an impressive 105-36 in those situations.


That home team domination continued this year, as the Hornets, Celtics and Lakers all won their Game 5s, to take 3-2 leads. It remains to be seen if all three will now go on to win those series. Looking ahead to any possible seventh games, I'll note that home teams have won 79 of the previous 96 seventh games in NBA postseason history (82.3 percent).


Good luck, Larry

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