You Are Here > Basketball-Reference.com > BBR Blog > NBA and College Basketball Analysis

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all Basketball-Reference content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing Basketball-Reference blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Basketball-Reference.com // Sports Reference

For more from Neil, check out his new work at BasketballProspectus.com.

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

Posted by Neil Paine on June 8, 2010

A few weeks ago, I looked at various players' career performances in "crucial games", which I defined as: "Game 3 or later in a 7-game series; Conference Semifinals or later; series tied, within 1 game either way, or an elimination game for the trailing team". But while that's a nice working definition, it's certainly far from universal; for instance, one commenter pointed out that an elimination game when down 3-0 isn't very "crucial" at all, because even if you win, it doesn't really do a lot to change the outcome of the series.

Now, I had been operating under the assumption that you still feel pressure as a player even when facing an insurmountable deficit (maybe you even feel the most pressure under those circumstances), but I can see where performing well in that kind of game doesn't really carry the same weight as the same performance in, say, a Game 7. It's a bit like that old criticism of Alex Rodriguez -- he only hits home runs when the score is lopsided (that isn't true, by the way, but it was an actual criticism they lobbed at A-Rod for a while before the Yankees won a World Series with him). A solo HR always counts for exactly 1 run, of course, but if you look at Win Probability Added, that HR can take on wildly different win values depending on the situation. The same goes for wins in a 7-game series -- winning Game 5 when it's tied 2-2 is more important than winning Game 5 when you're down 3-1.

How much more important, though? We can try to quantify that 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:

7-Game Series, 2-2-1-1-1 Format
Game# Location Wins Losses Series p(W) Swing w/ W Swing w/ L Change
Game 1 Home 0 0 0.532 0.128 -0.192 0.160
Game 1 Away 0 0 0.468 0.192 -0.128 0.160
Game 2 Home 1 0 0.660 0.132 -0.199 0.166
Game 2 Home 0 1 0.340 0.122 -0.182 0.152
Game 2 Away 1 0 0.660 0.182 -0.122 0.152
Game 2 Away 0 1 0.340 0.199 -0.132 0.166
Game 3 Home 2 0 0.843 0.100 -0.150 0.125
Game 3 Home 1 1 0.539 0.154 -0.231 0.193
Game 3 Home 0 2 0.207 0.100 -0.150 0.125
Game 3 Away 2 0 0.793 0.150 -0.100 0.125
Game 3 Away 1 1 0.461 0.231 -0.154 0.193
Game 3 Away 0 2 0.157 0.150 -0.100 0.125
Game 4 Home 3 0 0.942 0.058 -0.086 0.072
Game 4 Home 2 1 0.693 0.163 -0.245 0.204
Game 4 Home 1 2 0.307 0.141 -0.211 0.176
Game 4 Home 0 3 0.058 0.038 -0.058 0.048
Game 4 Away 3 0 0.942 0.058 -0.038 0.048
Game 4 Away 2 1 0.693 0.211 -0.141 0.176
Game 4 Away 1 2 0.307 0.245 -0.163 0.204
Game 4 Away 0 3 0.058 0.086 -0.058 0.072
Game 5 Home 3 1 0.904 0.096 -0.144 0.120
Game 5 Home 2 2 0.552 0.208 -0.312 0.260
Game 5 Home 1 3 0.144 0.096 -0.144 0.120
Game 5 Away 3 1 0.856 0.144 -0.096 0.120
Game 5 Away 2 2 0.448 0.312 -0.208 0.260
Game 5 Away 1 3 0.096 0.144 -0.096 0.120
Game 6 Home 3 2 0.760 0.240 -0.360 0.300
Game 6 Home 2 3 0.240 0.160 -0.240 0.200
Game 6 Away 3 2 0.760 0.240 -0.160 0.200
Game 6 Away 2 3 0.240 0.360 -0.240 0.300
Game 7 Home 3 3 0.600 0.400 -0.600 0.500
Game 7 Away 3 3 0.400 0.600 -0.400 0.500

Clicking the table header to sort by the "Change" column, we see that the most critical games are as follows:

Game# Location Wins Losses Change
Game 7 Home 3 3 0.500
Game 7 Away 3 3 0.500
Game 6 Home 3 2 0.300
Game 6 Away 2 3 0.300
Game 5 Home 2 2 0.260
Game 5 Away 2 2 0.260
Game 4 Home 2 1 0.204
Game 4 Away 1 2 0.204
Game 6 Home 2 3 0.200
Game 6 Away 3 2 0.200
Game 3 Home 1 1 0.193
Game 3 Away 1 1 0.193
Game 4 Home 1 2 0.176
Game 4 Away 2 1 0.176
Game 2 Home 1 0 0.166
Game 2 Away 0 1 0.166
Game 1 Home 0 0 0.160
Game 1 Away 0 0 0.160
Game 2 Home 0 1 0.152
Game 2 Away 1 0 0.152
Game 3 Away 0 2 0.125
Game 3 Home 2 0 0.125
Game 3 Home 0 2 0.125
Game 3 Away 2 0 0.125
Game 5 Home 3 1 0.120
Game 5 Home 1 3 0.120
Game 5 Away 3 1 0.120
Game 5 Away 1 3 0.120
Game 4 Home 3 0 0.072
Game 4 Away 0 3 0.072
Game 4 Home 0 3 0.048
Game 4 Away 3 0 0.048

Obviously, Game 7 is the most crucial possible game in a 7-game series; it carries (on average) a +/- .500 swing in series p(W), simply because everything comes down to one game and one game only. However, a Game 5 tied at 2-2 is only the third most crucial game in a 7-game series -- a Game 6 when the home team is leading 3-2 is actually even more important, because it represents that team's best opportunity to close out the series (and people scoffed when the Celtics said they were treating Game 6 of this year's Orlando series like it was "their Game 7").

In general, situations where the team with fewer home games in the series can grab a decisive home victory (Game 6, up 3-2; Game 4, up 2-1; etc.) are among the most critical in a series with this format. Meanwhile, predictably at the bottom are the 3-0/0-3/3-1/1-3 games, suggesting that those types of elimination games aren't really "crucial" at all -- you're basically going to lose the series anyway, no matter whether you win or lose the game. Also, we see that Game 3 of a 2-0 series (no matter which team leads) is relatively unimportant as well when it comes to determining the series' ultimate outcome.

Of course, right now we're in the middle of the NBA Finals, and any basketball fan will tell you that the Finals employ a 2-3-2 format, not the familiar 2-2-1-1-1 from the rest of the playoffs. How does this change the relative importance of each game?

7-Game Series, 2-3-2 Format
Game# Location Wins Losses Series p(W) Swing w/ W Swing w/ L Change
Game 1 Home 0 0 0.532 0.128 -0.192 0.160
Game 1 Away 0 0 0.468 0.192 -0.128 0.160
Game 2 Home 1 0 0.660 0.132 -0.199 0.166
Game 2 Home 0 1 0.340 0.122 -0.182 0.152
Game 2 Away 1 0 0.660 0.182 -0.122 0.152
Game 2 Away 0 1 0.340 0.199 -0.132 0.166
Game 3 Home 2 0 0.843 0.100 -0.150 0.125
Game 3 Home 1 1 0.539 0.154 -0.231 0.193
Game 3 Home 0 2 0.207 0.100 -0.150 0.125
Game 3 Away 2 0 0.793 0.150 -0.100 0.125
Game 3 Away 1 1 0.461 0.231 -0.154 0.193
Game 3 Away 0 2 0.157 0.150 -0.100 0.125
Game 4 Home 3 0 0.942 0.058 -0.086 0.072
Game 4 Home 2 1 0.693 0.163 -0.245 0.204
Game 4 Home 1 2 0.307 0.141 -0.211 0.176
Game 4 Home 0 3 0.058 0.038 -0.058 0.048
Game 4 Away 3 0 0.942 0.058 -0.038 0.048
Game 4 Away 2 1 0.693 0.211 -0.141 0.176
Game 4 Away 1 2 0.307 0.245 -0.163 0.204
Game 4 Away 0 3 0.058 0.086 -0.058 0.072
Game 5 Home 3 1 0.856 0.144 -0.216 0.180
Game 5 Home 2 2 0.448 0.192 -0.288 0.240
Game 5 Home 1 3 0.096 0.064 -0.096 0.080
Game 5 Away 3 1 0.904 0.096 -0.064 0.080
Game 5 Away 2 2 0.552 0.288 -0.192 0.240
Game 5 Away 1 3 0.144 0.216 -0.144 0.180
Game 6 Home 3 2 0.840 0.160 -0.240 0.200
Game 6 Home 2 3 0.360 0.240 -0.360 0.300
Game 6 Away 3 2 0.640 0.360 -0.240 0.300
Game 6 Away 2 3 0.160 0.240 -0.160 0.200
Game 7 Home 3 3 0.600 0.400 -0.600 0.500
Game 7 Away 3 3 0.400 0.600 -0.400 0.500

Sorting once again by the average potential change in series p(W) for each game, these are the most crucial games in a Finals-style 2-3-2 format:

Game# Location Wins Losses Change
Game 7 Home 3 3 0.500
Game 7 Away 3 3 0.500
Game 6 Home 2 3 0.300
Game 6 Away 3 2 0.300
Game 5 Home 2 2 0.240
Game 5 Away 2 2 0.240
Game 4 Home 2 1 0.204
Game 4 Away 1 2 0.204
Game 6 Home 3 2 0.200
Game 6 Away 2 3 0.200
Game 3 Home 1 1 0.193
Game 3 Away 1 1 0.193
Game 5 Home 3 1 0.180
Game 5 Away 1 3 0.180
Game 4 Home 1 2 0.176
Game 4 Away 2 1 0.176
Game 2 Home 1 0 0.166
Game 2 Away 0 1 0.166
Game 1 Home 0 0 0.160
Game 1 Away 0 0 0.160
Game 2 Home 0 1 0.152
Game 2 Away 1 0 0.152
Game 3 Home 0 2 0.125
Game 3 Away 2 0 0.125
Game 3 Away 0 2 0.125
Game 3 Home 2 0 0.125
Game 5 Home 1 3 0.080
Game 5 Away 3 1 0.080
Game 4 Home 3 0 0.072
Game 4 Away 0 3 0.072
Game 4 Home 0 3 0.048
Game 4 Away 3 0 0.048

As was the case with the 2-2-1-1-1 format, Game 7 is easily the most critical matchup in any 2-3-2 series. Also note that Game 6 is once more the 2nd-most important game, but this time when the home team is trailing 3-2 (in the 2-2-1-1-1 format, Game 6 was at its most crucial when the home team led 3-2). The rest of the list is similar, with one notable exception being that a Game 5 with the home team leading 3-1 is far more important in the 2-3-2 format. This dovetails with my simulations of the Finals before the series began, which found that if the Celtics were going to win the championship, the most likely length of the series would be 5 games, thanks to the stretch of 3 consecutive home games.

Using these measures of relative importance, will be theoretically possible in the future to give weight to individual production in each playoff game, crediting performances more or less based on how crucial the game was in determining the series outcome.

ShareThis

24 Responses to “Which Games Are the Most Important In a 7-Game Series?”

  1. Neil Paine Says:

    This Finals is actually in a position where every game could have more importance than the previous game:

    *Series started 0-0 (chg = .160)
    *Lakers win, Game 2 is 1-0 home team (chg = .166)
    *Celtics win, Game 3 is 1-1 (chg = .193)

    If (and only if) the following pattern takes place, the importance will escalate with every game of the series:

    *Celtics win, Game 4 is 2-1 home team (chg = .204)
    *Lakers win, Game 5 is 2-2 (chg = .240)
    *Celtics win, Game 6 is 3-2 away team (chg = .300)
    *Lakers win, Game 7 is 3-3 (chg = .500)

    I'm not sure how often this happens historically, with the importance escalating every game, so I'll have to check that out at some point.

  2. DSMok1 Says:

    Excellent work, Neil. Very useful information.

  3. sidole Says:

    Celts will sweep home.Bye bye PJ.

  4. David Fauber Says:

    Good stuff, I think the grids would be better if you pruned out the redundant "away" entries and just presented it from the perspective of the home team. (eg 3-1 at home is the same as 1-3 away, you're just showing the inverse of the probabilities)

  5. Ben Says:

    Great Stuff. I agree with David Fauber's comment.

  6. Mike G Says:

    Guess what: every game is of equal importance.
    They're also equally 'crucial'.

    And if you increase your chances from 15% to 30%, you haven't increased it 15%; you've increased it by 100%.

  7. DSMok1 Says:

    That doesn't make sense, Mike. He's talking in terms of Series-Win-Probability. The games are not of equal value in terms of that. It's like a leverage index at the game level.

  8. Bill Reynolds Says:

    Under the 2-3-2 format, there have been 25 Finals played (1985-2009). Before this year, the first two games were split 10 times (in 1985, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2003, and 2004). In all ten of those series, the team that won game 3 went on to win the series. Remarkably, the road team won game three seven of the ten times -- 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2001, and 2003.

    Suggests that tonight's game is very big indeed.

  9. Jason J Says:

    I’m not sure it is that surprising that the away team has won the majority of game 3s going into it tied 1 - 1. When you think about it, that’s the team with the better regular season record, the team that earned home court advantage in the first place.

    They are still the favorites in most instances (except when there’s some strange scenario like the 2008 champs playing hurt and lethargic through the second half of the season and then proving to be better than the two teams with the best records…), and you’ve got to imagine that by game 3 both teams have settled down some. Most of the surprises are gone, and the team that has proven itself to be better over the course of the season is likely to be better once all the early adjustments have been made. As a general rule.

  10. Mike G Says:

    Jason J is right. You could look at any of the games (1-7) and probably find the favored team has won 60-70% of them.

    DSMok1, I too was "talking in terms of Series-Win-Probability".
    Yesterday, it's a "crucial" game when you're down 3-0 or 3-1; today it's not "important".

    Both of these conflicting claims are equally weird.

    A team that's adjudged to have a 55% chance of winning a series cannot double their chances in one game. A team with a 15% chance can, though.

    If you're down 3-1 (or 3-0) and come back to win the series, I don't see how you could argue any of those last 3 (or 4) games was less important than any other.

    And if you don't win the series, that still doesn't make any win you got less important.
    Unless, in retrospect, the loser gained nothing by winning any games.

  11. Neil Paine Says:

    Mike, I referred to all elimination games as "crucial" the other day because I needed a way to define "crucial" games, and I felt like that should be a part of it. Then a commenter said, "actually, a game 4 when you're down 0-3 isn't very crucial because a win or a loss won't change the leading team's Series Win Probability that much. So I told that commenter I'd look at each game from a Series Win Probability perspective, and this post is what I found. He was right, in the sense that a Game 4 with the series 3-0 or 0-3 doesn't have the same "leverage" as a Game 4 with the score 2-1 or 1-2. If any of this is difficult to understand, I suggest you read up on the concept of Win Probability Added in baseball, come back, and re-read this post. Then hopefully you'll have a better grasp on the concept I'm working with here.

  12. Mike G Says:

    I do understand leverage. Suppose you have to move a large boulder out of the road. You have a lever and a fulcrum. The first leverage moves the boulder a couple of inches; then you move the fulcrum, and you're able to move the boulder a foot; then you move it again, lever it, and off the road it goes.

    Of course, if you can't ultimately move the rock off the road, the first successful leverages are useless, in retrospect. But if you succeed, it's clear that the first, small move of the rock was the most critical, because it allowed the next moves to proceed.

    You actually use more leverage to move an object a shorter distance.

    If you're down 3-1, winning the 5th game is the utmost necessity. It raises your chances of winning from .144 to .360 : That's 2.5 times as good. Your opponent's likelihood has dropped from .856 to .640 . From comfortable to iffy.

    When Orlando came back from 0-3 to make it 2-3, I read the Celtics were "desperate". What 2 unimportant games can do.

  13. UB Says:

    I believe I was the poster that asked about this a couple weeks ago (and, again, thanks for doing this, Neil - great stuff!). So allow me to chime in, Mike.

    The point is, yes, to come back down from 0-3 requires you to first win that 4th game. The Magic tried to do it, and got 2 of them back. But the funny thing is - that's all they got.

    Is there, at least within the context of THAT series, any difference between losing 0-4 and 2-4? The team is eliminated either way. The extra wins don't get stored up in some kind of special calculation for the next season, at least in direct form (insert arguments here about experience in playoff games, etc).

    In other words, with regards to Orlando's winning their series against the Celtics, the Magic victories in Games 4 and 5 were meaningless. They didn't matter, because the Magic lost anyway. And that's because coming back from 0-3 is extraordinarily unlikely. What the 'crucial' index is meant to show, is whether or not a game significantly impacts the overall likelihood of a team winning a series.

    Think of it in betting terms.

    When Boston is up 3-0, and a guy comes to you and offers you an even-odds bet (so, you bet a dollar to win a dollar) that the Celtics will win the series (so, if the Celtics win the series you lose the best), there's NO WAY you take that bet. When Boston is up 3-1, you still absolutely don't take the bet, though you might think about it for just a moment (the old "Hmm... Nahhhhhhhh."). When Boston is up 3-2, now you're considering it - you still probably don't, but at least now you're considering it for more than a moment ("You know, if Orlando shoots the lights out in Game 6..."). And if the Magic had gotten to 3-3 and he offered you the same bet, with Orlando playing at home, you'd be likely to actually take the bet.

    So that game 4 doesn't change your impression of the series very much (not very "crucial" to the outcome of the SERIES itself). Game 5 changes it more, but not THAT much more (after all, they're still down 2-3 and going to Boston). But game 6 makes a HUGE change in your belief in who's more likely to win the series, in that if the Magic win it now you believe they have a very good chance at going to the Finals.

    So a great performance in game 4 doesn't do much for the overall likely outcome of the series (remember, this whole discussion began with a conversation on individual player performance in 'crucial' games). If a player throws down a huge Game 4 when down 0-3, we tend not to crown him as being particularly clutch (though I've noticed we tend to rarely apply the 'clutch' moniker to big men not named Russell anyway). If that same monster game is played in Game 7, it's far more likely to reflect positively on his legacy.

    I will say, Neil, ironically I'm slightly revising my own position on the matter. At least with regards to media response (because we all know their takes ALWAYS reflect the actual reality), a star player who has an excellent game in any closeout game FOR his team tends to get significant accolades. Not that it makes that much of a difference in the actual series, but the reflection on that player tends to be pretty significant if he nails shut a series with a huge game, regardless of how far ahead in the series the team is.

  14. Mike G Says:

    "... the Magic victories in Games 4 and 5 were meaningless. They didn't matter, because the Magic lost anyway. And that's because coming back from 0-3 is extraordinarily unlikely."

    Maybe you should just say, any wins in a series you eventually lose are meaningless. After the fact.
    In 2006, Dallas' 2 wins against Miami proved to be meaningless, because they lost the series.

    In 1970, the Suns went up 3-1 on the Lakers. LA won a (meaningless?) game 5 and the next 2. Oh -- does that mean the Suns 3 wins were meaningless?

    In 1981, the Celts were down 3-1 to Philly. They won the next 3, by a total of 5 points.
    There not only was no meaningless game, there was not a meaningless possession!

    If you've turned a 0-3 deficit to 1-3, you are certainly in position to keep winning. It's been done. It doesn't really matter if you've gone W-L-L-W-L or L-L-L-W-W, a 2-3 deficit is still as close as a series can be after 5 games.

    Someday, a team will win a series after being down 0-3. Will that, after the fact, make all wins meaningful, back to the beginning of time?

    To win a series, you win four games. Each one has equal value. The betting odds have nothing at all to do with that.

  15. Neil Paine Says:

    So Mike, do you believe a home run hit when you're trailing 12-1 is as "clutch" as a walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th in a 1-1 game?

  16. Mike G Says:

    When you're down 12-1, you need 12 runs to win the game; each of those is equally valuable.
    If you started the rally, that led to the miracle comeback, then yes, you started something great. Everyone behind you, avoiding the final out, perpetuates it.

    Then in retrospect, your homer that made it 12-2 must have rattled the opposition, got their pitcher out of the game, begun a series of unlikely events leading to a 12-run 9th inning. Maybe the winning run is just a bases-loaded walk, with no particular hero.

    Basketball uses the same math.

    If you're down 20 at the half, your coach might say you just need to get it to single digits going into the 4th. Then you're 'back in the game'. Overcoming great odds for the next 24 minutes, every play might be 'clutch'.

    If anyone actually involved with the game should believe this --

    "... 1-3 games ... aren't really "crucial" at all -- you're basically going to lose the series anyway, no matter whether you win or lose the game..."

    -- then we'd have been deprived of some mighty dramatic sequences in the history of the sport.

    The year after Boston's comeback from 1-3 vs Philly (1981), the same thing almost happened next year: Sixers up 3-1, they dropped the next 2. In game 7, at Philly, many fans assumed they'd repeat the previous year's collapse; there were actually empty seats, and this was a game with about 4 Hall of Famers per team.

    Assumptions are crazy. One game is one game.

  17. themojojedi Says:

    I love this stuff! Haven't really thought it through yet so I'm just spitballing some ideas about equal vs unequal importance of games:

    Is this an argument between marginally equal importance of games versus conditionally unequal importance (given results of preceding games)?

    Are there scenarios where these two concepts are both true and scenarios where they aren't?

    If two teams are exactly evenly matched is home-court advantage the only driver of the unequal importance of games?

    If we get to a Game 7 tied 3-3 are each of the first 6 games now viewed as equally important regardless of whether the series started 3-0 or whether it was 2-2 after 4? Is Game 7 now the only game that is important?

    If Stern ruled that the two teams had to play all 7 games regardless of when the series was won, would we agree that all games after one team wins 4 are meaningless/without importance?

    Does the fact that games are played in sequence rather than simultaneously create unequal importance due to the potential to eliminate the existence of (important) games later in the series?

    If in Stern-world II all 7 Games were "played" simultaneously rather than played sequentially would we all agree that each game's outcome is equally important?

    If we simultaneously "play" all 7 games and then randomly sample the game-by-game results (without replacement) until we have a series result does the importance of each game change because of the order that they were sampled?

    If we integrate/simulate over all possible samples/drawings are the games now viewed as equally important again?

  18. Mike G Says:

    "If we simultaneously "play" all 7 games and then randomly sample the game-by-game results (without replacement) until we have a series result does the importance of each game change because of the order that they were sampled?"

    Good question. The closest we have in the real world, perhaps, is the series that stands 3-0 . Each game thereafter either prolongs the series or ends it.

    In either scenario (relying on simulation for Themojojedi's proposal) I cannot fathom an argument that any remaining game has more importance than another. Nor does it make a bit of sense that a team down 3-2 has no chance, simply because they were once down 3-0.

  19. Mike G Says:

    If a guy is 1-5 from the FT line, he's shooting .200 .
    Another guy is 4-5, shooting .800

    If the .200 shooter makes one, his FT% rises to .333 : an increase of .133
    The .800 shooter making one rises to .833 -- up .033

    Was the first one 4 times as important or crucial?

  20. Hk Says:

    The argument that we need to try to "understand" the media's flawed perception, and overreaction, of players is ridiculous. We need to promote logic not contort our views to support some hack writer or sports analyst.

    Each playoff game is equally important, I'm with Mike G on this one.

  21. UB Says:

    It's not an issue of understanding the media's perception, it's trying to better clarify it. Each playoff victory has the same value. But each playoff game does not contribute the same amount to the relative likelihood of a series victory. When a team is down 0-2 and returns home, a loss in that game is much more damaging than if the series is tied 2-2.

    This isn't saying the players should just -give up- when down 0-3 or 1-3. It's saying that when a team is down 0-3 and wins game 4, they're still not very likely to win the series. Because of that, a high-level performance when a team is down 0-3 is not as 'important' as a high-level performance when a team is down 2-3.

    A team can win the 1st game and still lose the series, right? But a team that wins a game 7 must win the series, correct? So game 7 is more 'crucial' than game 1 - can we accept this premise? What the data above suggests is that, in addition to that concept, there's a scale for ALL the other games which affects the likelihood of a team's winning a series.

  22. Hk Says:

    What about the Magic Series this year? If they had split one of those "less" important games 1 or 2, that changes everything. Dwight Howard could have performed at the exact same level and taken his team to a 3-3 tie heading back to Orlando. Slight favorites instead of fishing.

    I'm only discussing individual legacy, it shouldn't be taken into consideration. That's a team stat based on favorable situations outside of skill.

  23. Hank Says:

    So who has the best game 7 stats in playoff history? (All rounds.)

  24. paul Says:

    this is great!

    Any compiled data on how close these mathematical/theoretical calculations come to predicting the actual results over time?

    The human factor (motivated/de-motivated by the series status) might account for some variations from these predicted results.