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1. ## Serious discussion about how to handicap rigged games

At this point, if it wasn't obvious before, it is clear the NBA wants the Heat in the finals. So you're Stern and you want the Heat in the finals. Well, the Heat can get there in several ways (Game 4, 5, etc.).

Ideally Stern wants them to get to the finals after winning a game 7 vs the Celtics, but unless there is outrageous biased officiating, pushing for a game 7 from your refs would risk the Heat actually losing that game. Nevertheless, if Stern could decide everything to the letter he would have every home game win the current series.

But with the randomness of player performance and ref ability to affect outcomes without being too blatant, how would Stern go about it? I feel like the following is a natural hypothesis:

push refs to ensure Heat win game 1, favor them strongly in game 2 so they probably start off 2/2 and then let the series play out fairly, or maybe officiate in favor of Boston a little. Heat probably take 1 in Boston then favored to close out in Miami. If they don't then have refs work hard to ensure Heat win Game6 in Boston. If Heat go 0/2 in Boston then officials work hard from then on out to ensure Heat win next two games.

This is what we have to begin the series. Now if you have a model that predicts the game 3 outcome, without considering officiating, and has the Celtics favored by x, how would you go about adjusting it to account for NBA tampering?

At this point if the posted line is exactly x, you would have to imagine the Celtics are a strong play since game 3 officiating should be in their favor. The league probably doesn't want a 3-0 lead by the Heat as it would kill interest in the series. But what if the line is x-2? How do you quantify officiating bias, keeping in mind it is not even clear in which direction the bias is pointing. It's only my guess it will favor the Celtics in game 3.

Thoughts??

mathy

2. You have a hypothesis. Now, you have to test it.

So how do you do it?

You're likely looking at a small sample, but you could compare home/away playoff officiating splits to regular season splits perhaps (both league-wise and crew-based).

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3. The David Stern conspiracy theories. Interesting.

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4. Originally Posted by MonkeyF0cker
You have a hypothesis. Now, you have to test it.

So how do you do it?

You're likely looking at a small sample, but you could compare home/away playoff officiating splits to regular season splits perhaps (both league-wise and crew-based).
That's one approach, but it's not necessarily home and away. If the series had opened in Boston we might have an entirely different situation -- probably officiating in favor of the away team. Is there a better way than going back historically and arbitrarily choosing which team you think the NBA would favor to advance? Is there any reason to think the NBA has a preferred candidate in mind for OKC vs SAS right now?

5. Originally Posted by Easy-Rider 66
The David Stern conspiracy theories. Interesting.
I've never seen such one-sided officiating in my life as I did in game 1 of the series; I don't even care who wins so it's not like I'm a Celtics fan that's a sore loser.

6. Originally Posted by mathdotcom
That's one approach, but it's not necessarily home and away. If the series had opened in Boston we might have an entirely different situation -- probably officiating in favor of the away team. Is there a better way than going back historically and arbitrarily choosing which team you think the NBA would favor to advance? Is there any reason to think the NBA has a preferred candidate in mind for OKC vs SAS right now?
If it were fixed, it would have to affect their bottom line in some positive way otherwise it wouldn't be worth fixing. If you were able to find or fit some data on potential matchup television rating projections, perhaps you could go that route.

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7. you have to overcome the year when the magic made it to play the lakers instead of the cavs. the most likely time to have the fix in would be kobe vs. lebron. i don't know how you can justify this.

8. but talking about fixed games there was a pretty interesting article in espn the magazine about the asian and singapore syndicates using this guy to rig soccer games in small markets.

there was even mention of 'ghost' games where they just made up a match up and posted a score without the teams actually playing.

9. if they need to fix any team into the finals it would be the Knicks.

10. "Fixing" a game is a rather serious charge. One that I don't necessarily believe. Yes, the NBA would like to see certain teams, but there are too many variables at play for them to dictate who wins.

But there is one thing the NBA can dictate: the officials assigned to each game. If you want to find out how to handicap NBA games, just look at who is officiating the game, and what their tendencies are. Certain officials favor certain styles of play. The NBA knows this. There is enough data to quantify this. The NBA surely uses this data in their assignments. They don't need to tell officials who they want to win. They just need to know which officials will favor which team. Its up to you to figure out what these refs favor.

11. It used to be easy,but now the books are on to the line readers of the world and adjusting accordingly but if you read the lines everyday you can still see some of what they are doing however it is a great deal tougher to keep an edge.......

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12. good discussion of this in tim donaghy's book

no reason to believe anything he says, but I am not surprised about his allegations towards other officials and the NBA strongly hinting which teams they preferred to advance in the playoffs. As a convicted felon he has an incentive to smear both other officials and the NBA, but some parts of it are nevertheless persuasive

13. Tim Donaghy made up lot of crap be cause he got busted for his gambling addictions and him fixing the game by himself because of his addictions. Then he blamed everyone and came up with the book idea to expose everyone. I wouldn't trust that guy. There is a good chance he is lying to sell his books. He is just like a tout, will bullshit to get buyers.

If you want to make money in the long run, avoid these rigged/fixed angles. Use experienced, poven cappers like bettingresource if you don't have time to make your own picks.

You are more likely to find fixed games in low profile college games.

14. I guess today's line says it all, you can take the Heat ML, but it's going to cost you. We don't know if the refs will call it so it's a close game or if they want miami to blow them out. either way, I'd bet miami wins.

15. rigged games? how much have you lost on the nba?

16. Would love to see the line movement on those old Donaghy games. If I remember correctly in Gaming The Game they claim that he would get a call with the current spread right before taking the court. The movement on these games must have been insane. Why they did not break down the line moves in the book has always been kind of weird

17. Biggest markets in the West are already out. In fact, the biggest markets in NBA are out with NY and LA x2. I can not even fathom them fixing a game for any other reason than ratings. And if the hypothesis is that the NBA rigs basketball games to increase television ratings for the finals, so far the facts do not support it. Sure SA and OKC play good basketball but they are small markets and would not provide the ratings of a LA and Boston or LA and NY.

Now, I guess it could be possible the reason is for personal gain, but seeing how much these guys already have meaning superstars and Stern, the risk-reward ratio is heavily tilted torwards risk. Risk everything you have for a very small percentage of what you already have. Stern is no idiot.

None of it makes sense to me on a macro level. I could easily see a few rogue refs or players shaving points but not the NBA as a whole. At least not with the facts that are available and anything else would simply be speculation.

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18. Some thoughts.

You would have to be very careful not to 'want' to see a fix, so you would have to set very clear conditions beforehand (for a study), and then bet the scenario once you recognize it. Ideally, live betting would have to be available.

One 'easy' way to fix a game is to get the key big man in early foul trouble. When you see two quick fouls, and even one of them is questionable, bet the other team.

Refs can also have biases that are not related to fixed games. If two of the three refs show a strong bias towards one team and/or against the other team, you often get a Batman & Robin scenario (where it doesn't matter if the other ref wants to be the Joker or Catwoman). Donaghy shared that the Phoenix Suns owner (Sarver) is widely disliked by the refs. That can become meaningful during the playoffs, in a close series where one or two calls might decide the outcome of a game.

MSG may be the best laboratory to study the idea of rigged games. I don't think it's big market related there (for the regular season), as much as mob related. But the underlying problem remains the same: how do you know which game it will be?

Don't jump to conclusions about what Stern might want. What is good for the NBA one year may be different the next year. I would assume it's well beyond the US market by now, with China as most lucrative expansion. But he may play his cards through the media, rather than by fixing games. There is little doubt in my mind that the Jeremy Lin hype earlier this year was created by the (corporate) media for that purpose. Think about it. New York won a few games with a new point guard. How big of a deal is that really? And yet, miraculously, it was world news. The reality is that ... people need their fix.

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19. MIA - OKC best possible matchup. Big city, big name maybe superstars vs. young soon to be superstars in finals.
Miami ML bet guaranteed winner.

SBR
Bash 2012
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20. It's tough to really test. Heat just dominated in Game 6 regardless so refs didn't have to do anything. I must admit I did not see much ref bias towards Heat in Games 3,4,5 while it seemed strong in the first two. Who knows.

So even if you believe the theory what do you do with the posted spread? If you have a model that says Heat by 9 then it's easy because the ref bias can only help. But if your model says Heat by 5, do you think potential ref bias is worth 3 points?

21. If you're using it for betting purposes, you'd have to hypothesize whether the "rig" considers the spread or not. A rig would, by definition, need to be an absolute. You'd merely have to quantify/forecast the probability of a particular side being "rigged."

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22. If you conclude that it doesn't consider the spread but there is evidence of "rigging", then you're simply looking at the ML market.

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23. Originally Posted by MonkeyF0cker
If you conclude that it doesn't consider the spread but there is evidence of "rigging", then you're simply looking at the ML market.
Tough to say -- the refs don't know how everything will play out. If their goal is to minimize bias subject to a Heat win, it's not as simple as just choosing Heat to win the game by 1. If the Heat were losing you'd expect the refs to bring them at least back to an even score, but then the Heat could get hot and win by 15. Or if the Heat dominate from the start of the game the ref bias would not play a roll at all. Anyways it's not an angle I'd play. I'll leave that to Wrecktangle, his broad definition of game theory will lead him to both a Nash Equilibrium and a sharp bias estimate.

24. Originally Posted by mathdotcom
Anyways it's not an angle I'd play. I'll leave that to Wrecktangle, his broad definition of game theory will lead him to both a Nash Equilibrium and a sharp bias estimate.
Agreed.

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