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Zig-Zag Theory

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NBA Zig Zags…Up In Smoke  

Long before “The Gold Sheet” first called out the premise, Zig Zags were primarily recognized as popular rolling papers for those who enjoy their smoke of choice. 
 
In NBA handicapping circles, Zig Zags are trendy applications that have been profitable moneymakers during the playoffs. 
 
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The premise 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 2013.
 
Game On, Dude
 
Overall: 745-661-36 (52.9%)
 
Game Two: 186-147-13 (55.8%)
Game Three: 188-151-6 (55.4%)
Game Four: 153-155-7 (49.6%)
Game Five: 117-118-6 (49.7%)
Game Six: 72-67-2 (51.7%)
Game Seven: 29-23-2 (55.7%)
 
The strength of NBA Zig Zags appears to be in Game Two where they become a near 56% point-spread play on the blind. 
 
That’s especially true for home teams off a Game One home loss as they are 50-33-1 ATS (60.2%), including a spotless 4-0 SU and ATS as an underdog.
 
Burn Baby Burn
 
Like all things that are popular, though, they eventually burn out and revert back to the norm.
 
A combination of the ‘law of averages’ and an adjustment by the odds makers has seen the NBA Zig Zags go up in smoke since 2001. 
 
That’s confirmed by the fact that these plays slipped dramatically the last 13 years (2001-2013), going 434-412-26 – or 51.3% - overall as opposed to a 311-249-10 mark – or 55.5% - in games played from 1991-2000.
 
Talk about a buzz kill.
 
Round ‘Em Up
 
Round One: 351-315-20 (52.7%)
Round Two: 227-195-7 (53.7%)
Round Three: 167-151-9 (52.5%
Round Four: 56-48-3 (53.8%)
 
While it appears there is hold no discernable edge between rounds, it’s interesting to note that the largest profits are derived by home teams in Round Two as they are 124-103-4, including 76-48-3 when playing off a double-digit defeat.
 
Planting the Seed
 
No. 1 Seeds: 101-95-5 (51.5%)
No. 2 Seeds: 100-80-3 (55.5%)
No. 3 Seeds: 87-75-9 (53.7%)
No. 4 Seeds: 76-68-1 (52.7%)
No. 5 Seeds: 69-62-2 (52.6%)
No. 6 Seeds: 55-53-2 (50.9%)
No. 7 Seeds: 39-58-4 (40.2%)
No. 8 Seeds: 57-43-5 (57.0%)
 
Note these results are since the 1996 season, when our database first began charting seeds. 
 
Disparate results abound between No. 7 and No. 8 seeds. 
 
Digging deeper, No. 7’s are a not-so-lucky 3-15-1 (16.6%) as underdogs of 9 or more points, while No.8’s are 12-5 (70.5%) as a ‘pick’ or favorite.
 
Rocky Mountain High
 
So then where is it we can still expect to catch the best buzz possible with NBA Zig Zags these days, you ask?
 
Twist these two up for size and remember, no bogarting:
 
1) Double Digit Dogs are 44-23-2 (65.6%) and…
2) Favorites of 4 ½ points or more off a loss of 20 points or more are 30-9 (76.9%).
 
After all, they make the best ‘sense’… if you know what I mean.
 
 

  
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