The Daily Sweat: Good news Knicks fans, they're a prime zig-zag theory bet for Game 2

·5-min read

If you've been reading this space during the NBA and NHL playoffs, you've seen the term "zig-zag theory." We'll explain, and New York Knicks fans are going to have a new appreciation for it. 

It's the simplest method of handicapping. For practical purposes, if a team loses a game in a series (particularly the first game), you take them against the spread in the next game. There are arguments that the zig-zag theory is outdated, mostly because oddsmakers caught on and move lines to tax bettors playing the method. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 1 to the Phoenix Suns and the line moved four points their way for Game 2. The Lakers did win and cover though. 

Like anything with betting (or life), some context and nuance needs to be involved. But zig-zag betting does make some logical sense: Teams losing the previous game have more urgency and they are more likely to make adjustments than the team that just won. It's not a foolproof handicapping method and it shouldn't be followed blindly, but it can work in certain situations. 

OK, back to the Knicks. 

The Knicks were 1.5-point favorites in Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks and lost a thriller, with Trae Young's last-second shot giving the Hawks the win. The Knicks are 2.5-point favorites for Game 2 at BetMGM — up from Tuesday when the Knicks were -2 — and bettors have to decide if the Knicks will bounce back or fall in an 0-2 hole that has been historically very hard to dig out of. 

The Knicks are a team that had a very good regular season, they were great to bettors and players like Julius Randle will be better in Game 2. It just seems hard to believe New York will be a no-show in the playoffs, and a 2.5-point spread isn't too daunting. The Knicks and the zig-zag theory look like the right side on Wednesday night. 

Derrick Rose and New York Knicks will try to even up their series against the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Seth Wenig - Pool/Getty Images)
Derrick Rose and the New York Knicks will try to even up their series against the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Seth Wenig - Pool/Getty Images)

Let's get a first look at the sports betting world for Wednesday: 

Can the Grizzlies do it again? 

The Memphis Grizzlies pulled off a fun upset of the Utah Jazz (OK, not so fun if you're a Jazz fan or bet on them) in Game 1. The Grizzlies looked very good. Of course, the Jazz didn't have Donovan Mitchell. 

Mitchell is expected to play in Game 2, and that's a big deal of course. Mitchell is a fantastic player and changes the entire Jazz offense. The Jazz are -9 for Game 2, and it's an interesting line. The line for Game 1 was Jazz -8, and the justification for the higher line in Game 2 is Mitchell's return. However, the Grizzlies did cover an 8-point spread with ease. That's a lot of points and the Grizzlies are probably worth a play as an underdog. 

How will the Wizards-76ers series go? 

The Wizards gave the 76ers a hard time in the first half of Game 1, and hung on to cover an 8-point spread in a seven-point loss. The line for Game 2 at BetMGM is 76ers -8.5. The Wizards have been fantastic against the spread for weeks, and it's worth another play on them getting that many points even if it seems unlikely the Wizards are going to take a game this series. Washington could end up covering three (or four?) times in a sweep. 

Who cashed tickets last night? 

The Los Angeles Lakers got a huge win in Game 2 over the Phoenix Suns, and given Chris Paul's health, the Suns could be in trouble. The Lakers are now -350 favorites to win the series. Speaking of being in trouble, a lot of futures tickets could be done in the first round as the Los Angeles Clippers are down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks. 

In the East, the Brooklyn Nets look like a worthy title favorite. They are slicing through the Boston Celtics, and it seems like a sweep is inevitable after a 130-108 Game 2 win. The Nets will be really hard to beat if they stay healthy. 

Fading pitchers coming off no-hitters worked for the second straight day, with the Blue Jays winning as +135 underdogs over Corey Kluber and the New York Yankees (chalk up another winner for the Dog of the Day). It was a good day overall for underdogs, with the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Blue Jays winning as dogs. 

In the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs got a huge win over the Montreal Canadiens, winning 4-0 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in that series. The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Nashville Predators in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead — and cash yet another "yes, overtime" ticket. 

What are we betting on this afternoon? 

It's a big day for work slackers, with four MLB games on the schedule for the afternoon. The best game of the group is the St. Louis Cardinals at the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox are a very good team and have taken the first two games of this series, but it's still worth taking the Cardinals as a healthy +165 underdog in the finale. 

Are the Dodgers favored again? 

Why yes, they are. The Los Angeles Dodgers were small -115 favorites on Tuesday night against the Houston Astros and won easily. It was, amazingly, the 127th straight game in which the Dodgers were not underdogs. The streak goes to 128 on Wednesday, as the Dodgers are a -145 favorite at BetMGM. Los Angeles has shaken off a weird slump and is back to playing like the defending champs, and any spread under -140 might be worth a blind play on the Dodgers. 

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