NBA Playoffs: The Bounce Back Effect


You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself in the NBA playoffs. Do teams historically tend to bounce back in their next game after getting embarrassed against the spread (ATS)? The short answer is yes!

I have found a great winning strategy by looking at all NBA playoff games since the 1990-91 season (thanks to for the data). Let’s have a look at the number of bets won/lost when betting on teams that lost the previous game of the series by a certain margin ATS:

The overall record of the strategy is good, but nothing to write home about: 839-755. Still, a 52.6% win percentage is enough to overcome the vigorish since you need to win at least 52.4% of your bets when betting at -110 or at least 51.2% when betting at -105. Also, I was stunned not to observe a single row where the win percentage went below 50%.

Notice how the win percentages generally increase as we move down the table. More specifically, teams that have lost the past game by 12.5+ points ATS hold a 271-213 record ATS: that’s a 56% success rate and a 9.2% ROI (Return on Investment)! If it got destroyed by 22.5+ points ATS, you get a 67-45 record (59.8% success rate, 16.7% ROI).

I wondered if I could find a nice trend by looking at the previous two games. I did. In order to simplify the writing in the tables below let me define “x” as “the difference between the spread and the actual margin of victory”.


Overall, teams losing against the spread on two straight occasions in a series have gone 278-251 (52.6%) in the following game since the 1990-91 playoffs.

Now, if you impose the restriction of only betting teams that have lost by at least 4.5 points ATS in both of their previous meetings, you obtain a 141-106 record (57.1%). The corresponding ROI turns out to be 11.3% when betting with -105 lines.


In summary, here are some tips you might want to follow during the NBA playoffs:

  • Bet teams that have lost the previous game of the series by 12.5+ points ATS;
  • Bet teams that have lost the previous 2 games of the series, both by 4.5+ points ATS.

I hope you enjoyed the read and that the strategies described here will earn you a fair share of profit!

Professor MJ