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2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 3

Posted by Neil Paine on June 5, 2011

Miami's Series Win Probability Graph after Game 3 (Miami leads 2-1):

Miami's Quarter-by-Quarter Series Win Probability Data:

Minutes Elapsed p(win)
0 53%
Game 1
12 52%
24 51%
36 58%
48 66%
Game 2
60 66%
72 65%
84 71%
96 46%
Game 3
108 54%
120 54%
132 54%
144 69%

(For more info on the Series Win Probability methodology, click here)

Posted in Playoffs, Statgeekery | 40 Comments »

A 19-Bullet Salute to Shaq

Posted by Justin Kubatko on June 3, 2011

As you no doubt know, Shaquille O'Neal, one of the NBA's greatest centers, announced his retirement earlier this week. In honor of Shaq, here are 19 bullet points, one for each season of his illustrious career:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Just For Fun, Trivia | 63 Comments »

2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 2

Posted by Neil Paine on June 3, 2011

Dallas' Series Win Probability Graph after Game 2:

Dallas' Quarter-by-Quarter Series Win Probability Data:

Minutes Elapsed p(win)
0 47%
12 48%
24 49%
36 42%
48 34%
60 34%
72 35%
84 29%
96 54%

(For more info on the Series Win Probability methodology, click here)

Honestly, just looking at the quarter-by-quarter stats vastly understates the magnitude of Dallas' comeback.

They were down 88-73 with 6 minutes and 19 seconds left in the game. Using the win probability methodology Wayne Winston laid out in Mathletics, a team winning by 15 at home with 6.32 minutes left in the game should win 99.978% of the time, putting the chances of a Dallas comeback at 1 in 4,550. As a second opinion, Ed Kupfer's win probability metric says a team winning by 15 at home with 6:19 to play should win 99.592% of the time, making the Mavs' comeback a 1 in 245 proposition.

Either way, Miami was less than a half of a percentage point away from taking a 2-0 lead to Dallas and giving themselves a 79% probability of winning a championship. Instead, they now sit at 46%. It's not quite on the level of Dallas blowing a 90% chance in 2006... but it's shockingly close.

Posted in Playoffs, Statgeekery | 33 Comments »

Keeping Score: They Won a Lot of Games, and Soon a Title – NYTimes.com

Posted by Neil Paine on June 2, 2011

Keeping Score: They Won a Lot of Games, and Soon a Title

At the NY Times, I highlight the unprecedented group of superstars currently seeking their first ring.

Posted in History, Layups, NY Times, Win Shares | 4 Comments »

Mailbag: NBA MVPs and Their Rings

Posted by Neil Paine on June 2, 2011

BBR reader Jamey wrote in with this question:

"I'm watching the NBA Finals, and one of the hosts of the pre-game show said that there are 7 players who have won the MVP award that have not won an NBA championship ring. Can you tell me who they are?"

Sure can. In fact, in order to answer this question, I had to create a query that counted rings for all MVPs. Here is that list (I only counted a player as having won a ring if he played in the postseason with an NBA or BAA championship team):

Player Rings MVPs
Bill Russell 11 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965
Bob Cousy 6 1957
Michael Jordan 6 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 6 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980
Kobe Bryant 5 2008
Magic Johnson 5 1987, 1989, 1990
Shaquille O'Neal 4 2000
Tim Duncan 4 2002, 2003
Larry Bird 3 1984, 1985, 1986
Willis Reed 2 1970
Dave Cowens 2 1973
Bob McAdoo 2 1975
Bill Walton 2 1978
Hakeem Olajuwon 2 1994
David Robinson 2 1995
Wilt Chamberlain 2 1960, 1966, 1967, 1968
Oscar Robertson 1 1964
Wes Unseld 1 1969
Julius Erving 1 1981
Kevin Garnett 1 2004
Bob Pettit 1 1956, 1959
Moses Malone 1 1979, 1982, 1983
Charles Barkley 0 1993
Allen Iverson 0 2001
Dirk Nowitzki 0 2007
Derrick Rose 0 2011
Karl Malone 0 1997, 1999
Steve Nash 0 2005, 2006
LeBron James 0 2010, 2009

The 7 MVPs who never won a ring are, of course, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, & Derrick Rose. And no matter what happens in the 2011 Finals, either Dirk or LeBron will be able to remove himself from that list.

Posted in Awards, BBR Mailbag, History, Trivia | 9 Comments »

2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 1

Posted by Neil Paine on June 1, 2011

Miami's Series Win Probability Graph after Game 1:

Miami's Quarter-by-Quarter Series Win Probability Data:

Minutes Elapsed p(win)
0 53.3%
12 52.0%
24 51.2%
36 57.7%
48 66.0%

For more info on the Series Win Probability methodology, click here.

Posted in Playoffs, Statgeekery | 22 Comments »

Biggest NBA Finals Collapses, 1992-2010

Posted by Neil Paine on May 31, 2011

With Dallas-Miami Part II tipping off tonight (not that it's really a rematch), I wanted to see whether the Mavs' loss in 2006 was the worst Finals collapse of the BBR era. We have linescores for every playoff game since 1992, which means I can calculate the home team's probability of winning at various checkpoints within a game:

Stage p(Home W)
Pregame 60.4%
After 1st Qtr =1/(1+EXP(-0.3599755-0.1122741*Home Margin))
After 2nd Qtr =1/(1+EXP(-0.2895922-0.1429087*Home Margin))
After 3rd Qtr =1/(1+EXP(-0.2041572-0.2117494*Home Margin))
Before any OT 52.4%

Combining those probabilities with the series win probabilities I found here, one can determine each team's probability of winning the series at a given checkpoint. This allows us to rank Finals collapses, pinpointing the moments within games where the eventual loser's series win probability was the highest:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, History, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 13 Comments »

Do the Finals Contain the Best Teams in Each Conference?

Posted by Neil Paine on May 30, 2011

Although we like to think "the best team always wins a best-of-7 series", variance plays a much bigger role than we'd care to admit. I found here that the best team in a given season usually wins the NBA title about 48% of the time -- and that's actually an incredibly high rate compared to other sports like baseball (29%), pro football (24%), and college basketball (34%).

Truth be told, playoffs are mainly designed as entertainment, with "finding the best team" as a secondary goal. And there's nothing wrong with that. If we forced teams to play enough to have statistical certainty, it would require a completely impractical number of games. For the fan's sake, it is necessary to achieve a balance between watchability and the feeling that what we watched wasn't a total fluke. And really, the NBA probably does this better than any other sport.

But we still have to acknowledge that the best team does not always win, nor do the NBA Finals necessarily contain the best teams in each conference. Can we put a number on how probable it is that a given Finals matchup did in fact contain the best from each conference? Using a very simplified version of Prof. Jesse Frey's Method for determining the probability that a given team was the true best team in some particular year (with assists from these posts), I calculated that probability for every Finals matchup since 1984, when the playoffs expanded to 16 teams.

Here are those Finals, ranked from the greatest certainty that the two teams were their respective conferences' best to the least certainty:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, History, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 10 Comments »

Miami-Dallas: The Strangest Finals Rematch Ever

Posted by Neil Paine on May 28, 2011

Finals rematches usually involve a familiar cast of characters with a great deal of bad blood built up over past battles, right? Repeat clashes where any roster change is minimal, and the two teams can draw on that shared experience to develop strategies going forward... Like the 1985 Finals, where the two teams' playoff rosters had 21 common players from the year before.

That's the mental picture we get when we think of a championship rematch, at least. But not this year. There are only four common players between the 2006 and 2011 Finalists' playoff rosters:

Udonis Haslem
Dirk Nowitzki
Jason Terry
Dwyane Wade

Among Finals rematches that took place within 6 seasons of the initial matchup, that's the fewest common players in league history:

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Posted in History, Playoffs, Trivia | 16 Comments »

NBA Finals Preview: Miami vs. Dallas

Posted by Neil Paine on May 28, 2011

Miami Heat

58-24, 1st in NBA Southeast Division (Schedule and Results)
Coach: Erik Spoelstra (58-24)

PTS/G: 102.1 (8th of 30) ▪ Opp PTS/G: 94.6 (6th of 30)
SRS: 6.76 (1st of 30) ▪ Pace: 90.9 (20th of 30)
Off Rtg: 111.7 (3rd of 30) ▪ Def Rtg: 103.5 (5th of 30)
Expected W-L: 61-21 (2nd of 30)

Arena: AmericanAirlines Arena ▪ Attendance: 810,930 (4th of 30)

Playoffs:
NBA Finals versus Dallas Mavericks
Won NBA Eastern Conference Finals (4-1) versus Chicago Bulls
Won NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals (4-1) versus Boston Celtics
Won NBA Eastern Conference First Round (4-1) versus Philadelphia 76ers
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Playoffs, SRS, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Win Shares | 8 Comments »

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