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Archive for May, 2011

Re-run: Which Games Are the Most Important In a 7-Game Series?

10th May 2011

Since we're in the thick of the playoffs, it seems appropriate to revisit this post from last June regarding the importance of each game in a best-of-7 series:

We can try to quantify [the relative importance of each game] by looking at the potential swings in each team's probability of winning the series based on the outcome of a given game. Let's establish a scenario where two morally .500 teams are playing each other in a 7-game series; the home team in any game has a 60% chance of winning (60% traditionally being the NBA's home-court advantage), and the away team has a 40% chance. At the beginning of a series in the 2-2-1-1-1 format, the team playing Game 1 at home has a 53.2% probability of winning the series (go here for the formulae I used to arrive at these numbers). If that team wins Game 1, their probability of winning the series suddenly increases to 66%, a boost of 12.8%, and if they lose, their probability drops to 34%, a decrease of 19.2%. Since there are only two possible outcomes in any game (win or loss), we can say that the average swing in series win probability for the home team in Game 1 is +/- 16% (12.8% plus 19.2%, divided by 2).

Do this for both teams and every possible situation in a 7-game series, and you can establish which games produce the biggest swings in series win probability:

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 24 Comments »

Player Personnel Executives

9th May 2011

Thanks to assists from Neil Paine and Robert Bradley, late this afternoon I added a new section to the site:

NBA & ABA Executives Directory |

Only the executives in charge of player personnel decisions (usually the general manager) are listed. In some cases these executives were easy to identify while in others they weren't, so if you have any suggested changes please let me know. Please note that your changes will only be considered if you include appropriate documentation.

I also added executive pages for each franchise. In some cases I was not able to find the exact starting date and/or ending date for an executive, so if you can help fill in the blanks please drop me a line, once again with appropriate documentation.

Finally, you may have noticed some changes to the "Quick Index" (QI) at the top of each page. There were some neat sections of this site that I felt were being buried because there wasn't enough room on the QI, so I added a "more" tab to allow easy access to these areas. Please note that some of the links that used to appear on the QI now fall under this tab.

Posted in Announcements | 1 Comment »

The Dissolution of the NBA Playoffs’ Ruling Class

9th May 2011

From 2008 to 2010, the NBA playoffs clearly had a "ruling class" that consisted of Boston, Orlando, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Combined, those three teams played 26 playoff series, and just once did one of them lose to a team outside of their own small clique:

Year Round Rd# Team Opp W L Winner
2008 EC1 1 BOS ATL 4 3 BOS
2008 WC1 1 LAL DEN 4 0 LAL
2008 EC1 1 ORL TOR 4 1 ORL
2008 ECS 2 BOS CLE 4 3 BOS
2008 WCS 2 LAL UTA 4 2 LAL
2008 ECS 2 ORL DET 1 4 DET
2008 ECF 3 BOS DET 4 2 BOS
2008 WCF 3 LAL SAS 4 1 LAL
2008 FIN 4 BOS LAL 4 2 BOS
2009 EC1 1 BOS CHI 4 3 BOS
2009 WC1 1 LAL UTA 4 1 LAL
2009 EC1 1 ORL PHI 4 2 ORL
2009 WCS 2 LAL HOU 4 3 LAL
2009 ECS 2 ORL BOS 4 3 ORL
2009 WCF 3 LAL DEN 4 2 LAL
2009 ECF 3 ORL CLE 4 2 ORL
2009 FIN 4 LAL ORL 4 1 LAL
2010 EC1 1 BOS MIA 4 1 BOS
2010 WC1 1 LAL OKC 4 2 LAL
2010 EC1 1 ORL CHA 4 0 ORL
2010 ECS 2 BOS CLE 4 2 BOS
2010 WCS 2 LAL UTA 4 0 LAL
2010 ECS 2 ORL ATL 4 0 ORL
2010 ECF 3 BOS ORL 4 2 BOS
2010 WCF 3 LAL PHO 4 2 LAL
2010 FIN 4 LAL BOS 4 3 LAL

Over that 3-year span, the Lakers-Celtics-Magic triad went 20-1 in series against non-ruling class teams, and as a result the road to the NBA title always went through one of the three teams. The rest of the league was largely irrelevant when it came to determining the championship.

Until this year, that is. For the first time since 2007, a ruling-class team failed to register at least 1 series win in a playoff season, as the Magic fell to the Atlanta Hawks in a 1st-round upset. Yesterday, the Lakers saw their season end against a non-ruling class team for the first time since 2007, losing in embarrassing fashion against the Dallas Mavericks. And the Celtics, for all of Kevin Garnett & Rajon Rondo's heroics in Game 3, still trail Miami's superteam 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

It's tough to make any sweeping statements on the basis of a few week's worth of games, but the 2011 playoffs seem to indicate a major changing of the NBA guard. After having their way with the league's proletariat for three seasons, the once-mighty ruling class now finds itself on the wrong end of a radical upheaval.

Posted in Analysis, History, Playoffs, Trivia | 30 Comments »

Basketball StatHead: May 6, 2011

6th May 2011

Basketball StatHead: May 6, 2011

Today at StatHead (with a little catch-up from yesterday), check out more research on the psychology of the Hot Hand, how Orlando's high-variance style cost them, and the best college coaches of the past 5 years, among other links.

Posted in Layups, StatHead | 2 Comments »

Basketball StatHead: May 4, 2011

4th May 2011

Basketball StatHead: May 4, 2011

Today's Stathead entries include links to TrueHoop, John Hollinger, and the Wall Street Journal's Daily Fix.

Posted in Announcements, Layups, StatHead | Comments Off on Basketball StatHead: May 4, 2011

Most All-Stars in a Playoff Series (1991-2011)

4th May 2011

This Heat-Celtics series is nothing if not a star-studded affair. A total of seven current All-Stars (Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, & Rajon Rondo) and 2 more former All-Stars (Jermaine O'Neal & Zydrunas Ilgauskas) have drawn minutes in the series so far. But how do those totals stack up to other playoff series since 1991?

First, let's look at the series that featured the most current All-Stars:

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Posted in All-Star Game, Analysis, History, Playoffs, Trivia | 6 Comments »

Basketball StatHead: May 3, 2011

3rd May 2011

Basketball StatHead: May 3, 2011

Today's Stathead entries feature research from Back Picks, ESPN's Stats & Info, and a new edition of JQAS.

Posted in Announcements, Layups, StatHead | Comments Off on Basketball StatHead: May 3, 2011

Tuesday Flashback: May 8, 1997

3rd May 2011

...aka the last time the Hawks beat the Bulls in a playoff game:

  1 2 3 4 T
ATL         103
CHI         95
Four Factors  
ATL 89.0 .585 12.2 19.4 .282 115.8
CHI 89.0 .473 7.6 27.7 .087 106.8

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Posted in Boxscore Breakdown, History, SRS | 11 Comments »