Before you zag for the Rockets . . .

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

April 30, 2019 12:35 AM

Oddsmakers are expecting “zig-zag” bettors to back the Houston Rockets plus the points Tuesday night in the second game of their Western Conference second-round series against the Golden State Warriors. 

After the point spread in the series opener hopped between Golden State -6 and -6.5 from open to close (in a game won by the Warriors 104-100), Game 2 opened and held for quite some time at Golden State -5.5. 

Most variations of the zig-zag say to bet the straight up loser of the last game against the spread in the next game. 

There are many dynamics in this particular matchup pointing to an erratic ebb and flow… 

  • Golden State gets lackadaisical when it gets comfortable. Against the Clippers, the Warriors went 0-3 against the spread after a straight up victory. They missed the spread by 18, 1.5, and 23 points in those failures. Possibly worth noting that Golden State won the finale of the Clippers series, then failed to cover its next time out vs. Houston. So, Golden State is 0-4 ATS in these playoffs immediately after a straight up win.
  • These teams played in the Western Conference finals last year. Golden State won the first game 119-106, then didn’t cover the second game in a 127-105 loss. The Warriors bounced back to win and cover the third game 126-85, before dropping Game Four 95-92 as 7-point favorites.
  • Of any team in the NBA, Houston is best build to challenge Golden State. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has publicly stated that he’s put together a collection of skill sets designed to derail the Warriors’ current dynasty. That means the Rockets can race far ahead if Golden state takes its foot off the gas.
  • Houston shot just 29.7% on three-pointers in Sunday’s loss. It was their worst performance this postseason in that very fickle stat. Through six games, its three-point percentages have been 36.6, 40.5, 33.3, 37.0, 35.1, and 29.7%. Pencil in a “normal” percentage Tuesday, and expectations for a nail biter or upset are even higher. 

There are no sure things in sports betting. And in this volatile battle, anything can happen amidst all the fouling, flopping, and flamboyantly throwing arms in the air when refs don’t make a call. If a couple of Rockets get themselves thrown out, so much for the zig zag. If a couple of Warriors go ballistic, the series will be tied heading to Houston. 

Beyond hoping a zig-zag approach works out, there’s not much yet for handicappers to trust with full confidence. In this postseason, Golden State has played at pace factors ranging from a slow 96.5 to a sizzling 110.5. Houston’s low was 92.6, it’s high 100.9. Golden State’s offense has committed 20 or more turnovers in three of seven playoff games, but 12 or fewer three times. In any given game, anything can happen across the full spectrums of fast/slow, sloppy/sharp, hot/cold, clean/dirty, and even healthy/injured.

You can see why so many bettors want to latch onto a system like the zig zag when the Rockets play the Warriors.


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