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Ups and Downs: Team Performance in Best-of-Seven Playoff Series


  • Swartz Tim B.

    (Simon Fraser University)

  • Tennakoon Aruni

    (Simon Fraser University)

  • Nathoo Farouk

    (University of Victoria)

  • Tsao Min

    (University of Victoria)

  • Sarohia Parminder

    (University of Victoria)


This paper explores the impact of the status of a playoff series on team performance in a best-of-seven playoff format. Betting line data are collected on more than 1200 playoff matches from the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) from 2003 through 2011. Regression methodology is used to suggest that teams in desperate situations (i.e., those teams close to elimination in a series) tend to have better results than when they are not in desperate situations. However, there also seem to exist situations where the mountain is too steep to climb, and desperation leads to capitulation. In comparing the two leagues, it appears that the effects due to the status of a series are less prominent in the NHL than in the NBA.

Suggested Citation

  • Swartz Tim B. & Tennakoon Aruni & Nathoo Farouk & Tsao Min & Sarohia Parminder, 2011. "Ups and Downs: Team Performance in Best-of-Seven Playoff Series," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 7(4), pages 1-17, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:7:y:2011:i:4:n:3

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