By Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com
With help from our trusted well-oiled database, let’s examine a handful of time-tested proven theories that have lined our pockets during the opening round of playoffs since 1991. Here is what the machine has to say.
For the most part, No. 8 seeds in the NBA playoffs (the Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trail Blazers this season) are teams that likely scratched and clawed their way into the post-season. Not good enough to be seriously considered threats against top-seeded opponents but just barely better than the dregs of the league.
Rest assured, their life expectancy is not long at all, as they’ve lost over 71% of time (56-146 SU) in games against No. 1 seeds since 1996. In fact, only the 1996 New York Knicks, the 2007 Golden State Warriors and the 2012 Philadelphia 76ers were good enough to pull the rug on top seeded foes and advance to Round Two of the playoff.
And you can virtually write them off in games against No. 1 seeds that are off back-to-back SU and ATS wins. These guys scratch out of the match with alarming regularity, going 4-27 SU and 10-21 ATS, including 0-17 SU and 3-14 ATS whenever the 8-ballers are off a spread loss of 4 or more points in their last game. Be aware.
Upset Losers Are Winners
Yes, you read that right… it’s not an oxymoron. Instead, it’s a powerful handicapping edge. It occurs whenever a team was upset as a favorite in an opening round game and is at home in the game immediately thereafter.
That’s confirmed by the fact that they are 94-25 SU and 71-44-4 ATS, a rock solid number 61.7 winning spread angle. And if these upset victims happen to be a No. 1, 2, or 3 seed they are a jaw-dropping 50-6 SU and 37-17-2 ATS in these follow-up affairs.
Don’t be afraid of these chalkbusters. That’s because they don’t lose their composure. Instead they almost always dig down deep and respond with aplomb in games after being embarrassed.
Surprisingly, in the right role, double-digit underdogs do well in opening round contests, especially when playing off a playoff loss. These overweight puppies are 35-20-2 ATS in this role.
And if these same guys lost as a double-digit dog in their last game they zoom to 26-12-1 ATS, including 18-5 ATS against non-division foes.
Granted, these dogs are not exactly pedigree puppies but the fact of the matter is they tend to come up big against disinterested favorites not capable of chopping heavy lumber.
And Down Goes Frazier
The psyche of teams that are not playing well comes immediately to the surface during the opening round of the NBA playoffs. That’s evidenced by the fact that teams riding a three game-exact loss skein are wobbly and oftentimes one punch away from being counted out.
With glass-like jaws, these swirling teams are just 47-65 SU and 47-61-4 ATS away from home this round, including 7-11 SU and 6-12 ATS in lid-lifters.
Worst of all, road dogs of more than six points on a three game exact losing skid are 3-29 SU and 10-22 ATS on their way to the canvas.
And just an FYI: teams that lose the first three games in an opening round series are just 12-23 SU and 13-19-3 ATS in Game Fours, including 6-15-2 ATS as dogs of four or more points.
Defending champions (the Cleveland Cavaliers in this case) are 78-34 SU and 62-46-4 ATS overall in opening round games the next season, including 17-8 SU and 16-8-1 ATS in Game One of Round One the following season.
Furthermore, they are13-3-1 ATS following a double-digit loss during opening round games, and also a spotless 8-0 ATS when taking more than five points in this round.
Enjoy the opening round of the 2017 NBA playoffs.