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NBA Playoff Momentum

   by Tom Stryker - 04/30/2006

According to the Merrian-Webster Online Dictionary, the word "momentum" carries the following meaning: Strength or force gained by motion or through the development of events.

You hear a lot about momentum in sporting events. For example, baseball teams that play with momentum are definitely worth a look if you're an investor. Riding an MLB team on a winning streak can pay serious dividends. Conversely, going against a team on a losing streak can be equally profitable.

Common sense would indicate that momentum is a good thing. For the most part, I agree with that statement. However, when it comes to handicapping NBA playoff momentum, a team playing well is not necessarily a healthy choice for your pocketbook. Take a look.

Dating back to the 1990-91 season, playoff teams coming off a pair of momentum-building SU and ATS post season wins are a soft 148-166-6 ATS in their next game. Normally, one would assume that a team that is playing well would continue to perform at a high level. That's not the case in the NBA playoffs.

Maybe there's a decline because these teams are forced to play the same opponent in a best of seven series. The familiarity could lead to a lack of continued success. Or, the simple fact that playoff opponents are the cream of the crop could make it more difficult for a team to rip off a string of victories. Whatever the reason, we as sports investors need to pay attention to this money-making opportunity.

Working from the general base of 148-166 ATS, these teams playing with "good 'ol Mo'" perform even worse if they enter off a victory of 14 points or more. In this set, our "play against" side dips to an eye-popping 35-71 ATS. Surprisingly, this system works in all rounds of the playoffs. In Round 1, the record is 10-16 ATS. Round 3 offers a 6-10 ATS mark while the NBA Finals serve up a 4-7 ATS tally. The spot where this situation is most profitable is round 2 at 15-38 ATS!

There is one additional parameter that really makes this technical situation pop. If we take our 35-71 ATS set and make our "play against" side carry a won/loss percentage of .730 or higher and our now "play on" side hold a won/loss percentage of .533 or better, this system crashes to a shocking 6-31 ATS! In somewhat of a surprise, the NBA's best teams really struggle in this situation.

When it comes to sports investing, backing a team with momentum is usually the way to go. As you can plainly see from the analysis above, it's the wrong thing to do during the NBA Playoffs. Round 2 is approaching rapidly and there will surely be plenty of these teams that enter off consecutive wins. Be sure to tuck this technical system away for future use! Best of luck always, Tom Stryker.

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