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Finally, Evidence for a Momentum Effect in the NBA


  • Arkes Jeremy

    (Naval Postgraduate School)

  • Martinez Jose

    (Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena)


No previous study on momentum in team sports has found any valid evidence for a momentum effecti.e., an effect of success in the past few games, over and above the effect of team quality. We develop an econometric model to determine if there is a momentum effect in the NBA by examining how success over the past few games leads to a higher probability of winning the next game. The model takes into account the home vs. away strengths of the teams in the current game as well as their opponents in the previous games (to calculate measures of adjusted success over the past few games). Thus, success in previous games is adjusted for quality of the wins or losses. In addition, we account for rest days before the current game for both teams. Using data over three NBA seasons (2007-2009), we find strong evidence for a positive momentum effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Arkes Jeremy & Martinez Jose, 2011. "Finally, Evidence for a Momentum Effect in the NBA," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 7(3), pages 1-16, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:7:y:2011:i:3:n:13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ioannis Asimakopoulos & John Goddard, 2004. "Forecasting football results and the efficiency of fixed-odds betting," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(1), pages 51-66.
    2. Arkes Jeremy, 2010. "Revisiting the Hot Hand Theory with Free Throw Data in a Multivariate Framework," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-12, January.
    3. C. Sire & S. Redner, 2009. "Understanding baseball team standings and streaks," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 67(3), pages 473-481, February.
    4. Daniel M. Oppenheimer & Benoit Monin, 2009. "The retrospective gambler's fallacy: Unlikely events, constructing the past, and multiple universes," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(5), pages 326-334, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gabel Alan & Redner Sidney, 2012. "Random Walk Picture of Basketball Scoring," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-20, March.
    2. Fry Michael J. & Shukairy F. Alan, 2012. "Searching for Momentum in the NFL," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-20, March.

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