In NBA handicapping circles, Zig Zags are trendy applications that have been profitable moneymakers during the playoffs. The play is simple: Play On a team off a playoff loss in its very next game.
The theory is that in a short series, involving imminent elimination, a team in more inclined to bounce back with a good effort off a losing performance than it is to continue its losing ways.
How have these plays held up of late? You might be surprised.
Here are pointspread results of NBA Playoff Zig Zags from 1991 through 2009.
Game Two: 149-125-12
Game Three: 163-118-14
Game Four: 127-124-4
Game Five: 93-95-5
Game Six: 57-50
Game Seven: 22-20
The strength of NBA Zig Zags appears to be in Game Three. That’s generally where lower seeds return home after opening the series as a visitor. They tend to step up the pace when doing so off a loss.
Round ‘em up
Round One: 283-246-12
Round Two: 191-163-7
Round Three: 93-83-6
Round Four: 44-40-2
2nd Round games have been more profitable than others while championship rounds are a virtual toss-up.
Planting the seed
No. 1 Seeds: 85-74-4
No. 2 Seeds: 81-60-2
No. 3 Seeds: 66-58-8
No. 4 Seeds: 57-55-1
No. 5 Seeds: 48-42
No. 6 Seeds: 43-40-1
No. 7 Seeds: 32-40-3
No. 8 Seeds: 38-36-3
Note these results are since the 1996 season, when our database first began charting seeds. Living up to it’s billing, No. 2 tries harder.
Burn baby burn
Like all things that are popular, they eventually burn out and revert back to the norm.
A combination of the ‘law of averages’ and an over-adjustment by the oddsmakers has seen the NBA Zig Zags start to go up in smoke this decade.
That’s confirmed by the fact that these plays are 330-308-19 overall since 2000, including 34-38-1 when on the road off back-to-back losses and 19-24-2 in championship games.
Higher than a kite
So then where is it then we can still expect to catch the best buzz with these NBA Zig Zags, you ask?
Twist these two up for size and remember, no bogarting: 1) Double Digit Dogs are 38-19-1 -and- 2) teams off a loss of 20 or more points are 101-59-2.