The NBA Playoff Preview and the Picks (Part 2: Skin in the Game)

Posted on 04/16/2011 by

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Physicists like to think that all you have to do is say, these are the conditions, now what happens next?
-Richard Feynman

Part 1 set all the preconditions. Now I get to read the tea leaves and make some picks.

Some are more obvious than others

Win % at neutral sites are all based on Top 6.

Let’s start with the East:

Eastern Conference Round 1

Series 1: Chicago vs Indiana

The Facts: The Bulls are arguably the best team in the playoffs, the pacers are the worse. This will not end well.

Win % @ Neutral Site: >70% for Bulls

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 70% ++
W4 23%
W5 34%
W6 18%
W7 15%
L4 1%
L5 1%
L6 4%
L7 4%

Bulls in 5

My Prediction: Bulls in 4. I’m erring to the side of the Bulls romping given the massive talent gap.

Series 2: Miami vs Philadelphia

The Facts: The Heat are arguably the best team in the playoffs (that seems familiar), Philly is somewhat frisky but not frisky enough

Win % @ Neutral Site: just about 70% for Miami

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 70%
W4 23%
W5 34%
W6 18%
W7 15%
L4 1%
L5 1%
L6 4%
L7 4%

Heat in 5

My Prediction: Heat in 5. Philly is young, athletic  and perfect to steal one game (and then proceed to get knocked the hell out).

Series 3: Boston vs New York

The Facts: Boston may have been the best team in the league but then they went and blew it up. The Knicks were finally a good team with some hope then they succumbed to their base instincts and blew it up.

Win % @ Neutral Site: About 61% for Boston in the worst possible case. 70 % + in the Best. New York is a bleh team, that 7 game winning streak featured NJ twice, Cleveland, Toronto and Indiana. I’ll take 65%

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 65%
W4 17%
W5 30%
W6 18%
W7 18%
L4 1%
L5 3%
L6 7%
L7 6%

Celts in 5

My Prediction: Celts in 6. Celts will screw around like they like to do in the early rounds. Rondo will find his groove. Shaq will be back by the end to close it out at MSG.

Series 4: Orlando vs Atlanta

The Facts: Orlando is a one man show (but what a show). Atlanta has been circling the drain since last season. This series will happen but not a lot of people will bear witness

Win % @ Neutral Site: About 68% for Orlando if I’m really,really nice to the Hawks and ignore their post All-Star collapse.

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 68%
W4 20%
W5 32%
W6 18%
W7 16%
L4 1%
L5 2%
L6 5%
L7 4%

Magic in 5

My Prediction: Magic in 5. Somehow Atlanta will win one (or Orlando will lose one). It won’t happen twice though.

Now it get’s rough

Western Conference 1st Round:

Series 1: San Antonio vs Memphis

The Facts: The Forgotten Kings . My preseason blurb for the Spurs: “The Spurs are the forgotten contender. I think the Splitter/Blair/Duncan combo sets them up for the future with a scary frontcourt. Combined with their ability to develop backcourt player thru the development team and they’re the spoiler out west. I’ve already said that I think they’re at least a three seed out west. I trust Pop to play the right guys (Blair) more. I think the health of Ginobli come playoff time will be the deciding factor in whether or not their run ends in the West Finals or the Finals or with the crowds chanting “Duncan Bumaye, Duncan Bumaye!” . Heh.

The Grizz are also very, very dangerous.

Win % @ Neutral Site: For season 52% Spurs, since All Star, 59% Grizz. About 54% for Memphis is my best guess .

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 46%
W4 4%
W5 12%
W6 11%
W7 18%
L4 8%
L5 13%
L6 21%
L7 14%

Grizz in 6

My Prediction: Grizz in 7. I think we get an epic series. I also think that this is were the Grizz arrive as a contender. They can’t win it this year but next year watch out. The Spurs will go out swinging but I think this is the worst matchup they could have gotten as their getting a team with vets (Battier), a superstar (Randolph) and guys with playoff experience (Trick or Treat Tony, Powe).

Series 2: LA vs New Orleans

The Facts: The Lakers were too large for New Orleans before the West injury. Now? Yikes.CP3 will feast on Fisher but that will not be enough.

Win % @ Neutral Site: Before West injury? 55% Lakers. Now? 65% Lakers. Hey, no worries New Orleans at least you have a Football team.

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 65%
W4 17%
W5 30%
W6 18%
W7 18%
L4 1%
L5 3%
L6 7%
L7 6%

LA in 5

My Prediction: LA in 5. CP3 is good enough to get one at home but not two. The Lakers win in five and wait for their second round opponent.

Series 3: Dallas vs Portland

The Facts: Did you know that Dallas has a for real center? Portland is about to find this out.

Win % @ Neutral Site: 55% to 61% Dallas. If Portland started Camby and did not play Roy it would be closer for them. They won’t. My guess is 60%.

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 60%
W4 12%
W5 25%
W6 18%
W7 20%
L4 2%
L5 4%
L6 11%
L7 8%

Dallas in 5

My Prediction: Dallas in 7. Portland will be better than the numbers say but Dallas’ experience will prevail and get us a Lakers-Mavs playoff matchup in round 2. Cuban and Phil in a playoff series. Can’t wait.

Series 4: OKC vs Denver

The Facts: The two best teams in the West since the All Star Break square off in a first round deathmatch. I’d feel for them except that it’s going to be awesome to watch.

Win % @ Neutral Site: 58% to 66% Denver (yes Denver). Denver is banged up and some of the Altitude advantage goes away. My guess is 55% Denver.

The Numbers say:

Home Team Win Margin 45%
W4 4%
W5 11%
W6 10%
W7 17%
L4 8%
L5 13%
L6 22%
L7 14%

Denver in 6

My Prediction: Denver in 6.  I spent hours on this series. I ran every scenario in my head. Here’s my most likely scenario: The odds are about 70% for denver getting at least a split in the first two games. They get the split and win at home and are up 3-1. OKC wins 5 but dies in game 6. I could see seven though and it going the other way. This was like picking between my children.

For the rest of the series we’ll go quickly (because at this point, pure guesswork on my part). I’ll come back to it once the matchups are set:

Rd 2:

Chicago over Orlando in 7. Dwight scares the crap out of the Bulls but it’s not enough.

Miami over Boston in 7. Sigh, don’t trust Shaq and I think Heat get value from Haslem.

Denver over Memphis in 7. Fun series but the Homecourt wins it

LA over Dallas in 7. Sorry Mark but the only way this doesn’t happen invloves kidnapping a member of a ref’s family.

Yes I am going for David Stern’s and the networks dream scenario for Rd 2.

Conf. Finals

Miami over Chicago in 6. The boys from Chicago are just not quite ready yet. Lebron is.

Denver over LA in 6. This is an upset, LA would be slightly favored but I like the Altitude as a factor and I don’t trust Bynum’s knee.

Finals

Miami over Denver in 5

And the challenge of the super friends will be complete.




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