We’ve taken a look at the NBA odds for Tuesday’s first-round games, and we’ve hand-selected the best two plays against the spread for your discerning palate. Should we fade the Toronto Raptors again?
Jason’s record as of Apr. 20: 73-73-5 ATS, 10-15 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
To zig, or not to zig? That is the question for people making their NBA picks on Tuesday. We’ve got three Game 2 matchups on the slate, and for many bettors, that means supporting whichever team lost straight up in Game 1. But as our colleagues at LT Profits Sports Group have already pointed out, using that version of the zigzag theory has only generated a profit in specific situations since 2001. The devil is in the details.
It turns out that the Toronto Raptors fit the bill. No. 4 seeds are 32-25-5 ATS when zigging in the playoffs, and when you factor in that Toronto is playing a first-round game at home, things look even brighter. So will we be adding the Raptors to Tuesday’s basketball picks?
Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV)
It doesn’t look like a good choice from a basketball perspective. The NBA odds at press time have the Raptors (49-33 SU, 37-44-1 ATS during the regular season) favored by five points, up from –4 in Game 1, when the Wizards (46-36 SU, 33-46-3 ATS) beat them 93-86 in overtime. Toronto needed a massive fourth-quarter comeback just to put that game in extra time; both teams shot the ball poorly, but the Raps were particularly myopic. Their starters shot a combined 0-for-11 from long range.
As expected, Toronto head coach Dwayne Casey hastened his team’s demise by keeping two of his best players off the floor during crunch time. Jonas Valanciunas (20.6 PER) was nailed to the bench during the overtime period, while James Johnson (17.9 PER) didn’t play a single minute of Game 1. Even the fans at the ACC were cheering for Johnson to enter the game, while Paul Pierce was busy ventilating the Raps for 20 points on just 7-of-10 shooting.
However, it’s the adjustments teams make that power the zigzag, and although Casey has frustrated us with his lineup decisions in the past, we believe he’ll make the necessary adjustment here and give Johnson some burn Tuesday night – especially after Terrence Ross (11.2 PER) shot 0-for-6 from downtown in Game 1. It’s a lukewarm recommendation, though.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Raptors
Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
The zigzag breaks down once you move away from the top four seeds, and the way the No. 7 Mavericks (50-32 SU, 36-44-2 ATS) honked Game 1 in Houston, we’re not inclined to give them a second chance. The Rockets (56-26 SU, 48-34 ATS) had things under control for the most part, winning 118-108 as 5.5-point favorites – the same basketball odds that we have on tap for Game 2.
There was a point during Saturday’s series opener that Dallas started clicking. Rajon Rondo (12.4 PER) started making some shots after a slow start, helping the Mavs take the lead for a while late in the second half. But shooting has been the major weakness in Rondo’s game ever since he blew out his knee in early 2013. He was back to laying bricks in the third quarter as Houston quickly built up a 10-point lead and never looked back.
There are some adjustments that the Mavericks can make in Game 2. But their options appear limited now that Devin Harris (14.8 PER) and Chandler Parsons (16.3 PER) are iffy to play Tuesday after missing Monday’s practice. Both men are officially listed as questionable; Harris is a valuable back-up to Rondo at the point, and if Parsons can’t play in Game 2, that means it’ll be up to Richard Jefferson (11.3 PER) to try preventing James Harden (26.7 PER) from getting to the free-throw line early and often. Good luck with that.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Rockets