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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.

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33 Responses to “2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 2”

  1. Sean Says:

    Miami took their boots off of Dallas' throat. What did Wade do in the final 7 minutes? Take 2 shots? That guy has been awesome this series---and he just wasn't present in the last 6-7 minutes. And what kind of shots did LeBron take down the stretch? Awkward 3s? Earlier, I could NOT believe how sloppy Dallas was. I understand there's defense being played---but sheesh---they were committing unforced errors into the 4th Quarter, and that was how Miami was generating NEAR knockout blows of offense. Terry, Kidd, throwing lazy passes at Chandler's feet. And Miami flew down court and converted. Dallas has to be thinking that they could do themselves a tremendous favor if their just a little bit less careless with the ball. There are possessions where they don't get a shot off---and give Miami an automatic 2.

    Marion was big until Dirk just took over. HUGE shots by Nowitzki.

  2. Jacob Says:

    Great stuff, Neil.

    Miami generates so much offense off defensive rebounds and turnovers. As long as Dallas takes care of the ball and doesn't miss shots, Miami's offense doesn't stand a chance. :)

  3. sean Says:

    Could offense and defense be connected somehow?

  4. huevonkiller Says:

    A huge loss, but is that the way James wanted to win a title? He was a role player last night. He doesn't want to win like that.

    James needs to not only win but play at a more normal level, imo. Also the 91 Bulls blew game 1 in the Finals at home, they were the better team anyway. Miami needs to step up it is just one game. There are still 4 or 5 more to settle this one.

  5. Joe Says:

    Miami had a 66% chance of winning the series after game 1, but Dallas had a 47% chance of winning at the start of game 2? And does Dallas' 54% win probability after game 2 take into account that the next three games are all in Dallas--I feel like it should be higher because of that fact.

  6. huevonkiller Says:

    No it sounds about right, the Heat have the highest rating for the year and the best road record.

    Out of the playoff lineups the Heat use, they outscored Dallas 87-73 in the regular season. They have the better starters, they just need to use James 45 a game let's say, instead of 40. And of course they need to finish, what terrible IQ in this game at the end.

    Aside from the Superstars, Haslem is 4-20 in his recent games, he needs to stop shooting whenever possible. Not use up a valuable possession at the end.

  7. King Kong Says:

    Thats what happens when Bron Bron, the strongest and fastest player on the court, decides to dribble for 20 seconds and chuck 3s.

  8. huevonkiller Says:

    Big Deal, Dirk had horrific games against OKC it happens.

    Power of sample size, chill out.

  9. huevonkiller Says:

    Not just bad, horrific. A game score of 0.6 in game 3. Wade also had the worst series of his life offensively against Chicago.

    I don't know if Miami comes back either but get some perspective. I remember AYC coming on here after game 1 to praise Derrick Rose. He looks foolish. I think LeBron will play better but the Mavs look tough.

  10. Neil Paine Says:

    #5 - The Time Elapsed = 0 in this table is before the series started. For their p(win) prior to Game 2, look at Time Elapsed = 48.

    Also, the 54% does take into account the location of the remaining games. In a 2-3-2 series, teams going into Game 3 at home with the series 1-1 should win 53.9% of the time (assuming an evenly-matched opponent and 60% HCA). You can see where those numbers came from here:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=9420

  11. BSK Says:

    You'd also have to compare Dallas's odds of winning the series had they lost game 2 to their current odds.

  12. BSK Says:

    King Kong-

    He did that not once, but twice! On the same possession! That was a real killer. Miami had the ball, up 2, with just under 2 to play. Run the clock down, jack up a bad 3, offensive rebound, repeat, another offensive rebound, throw the ball away, and now they're at just over a minute and a tie game. Brutal.

  13. Jason J Says:

    It was a strange game. Miami looked great when they were picking up Dallas turnovers and getting out on the break. I think Wade was 11-15 at one point. But their half court offense was atrocious. Dallas struggled offensively until the last 5 minutes, but they controlled the boards (I think that might have been a consequence of Wade and James starting to leak instead of rebound) to stay in the game.

    The Heat fell apart against the Dallas pressure defense at one end and the Dallas staggered screen action at the other end. Those should both be fixable, but really their half court offense hasn't looked good since the first round. Wade and James have just been hitting a lot of tough shots. Which, hey, they do that. If the defense gets straightened out they could easily win this series doing that as well.

  14. Greyberger Says:

    A point of comparison that hasn't gotten mentioned a lot between these teams is how Dallas plays a cerebral, polished kind of game that's been built on years of practice and preparation, while Miami is trying to overcome that with brute talent that had almost zero preparation before the regular season started.

    Dallas is the exception to the truism that NBA teams rely on thin playbooks and dumbed-down defenses compared to international leagues. They move the ball fluidly and run intricate sets that end with multiple jump-shooters popping open at the same time. They have a zone defense scheme that's more than a white flag of surrender. The Mavs coaching staff asks more of the players and the players have built more collectively than any team since the 08 Celts.

    I don't want to harp too much on the other side, but let's just say there's a preparation gap. Miami has had a condensed schedule and at times looks like they're thinking about what to do instead of knowing what to do. They've shown flexibility in the playoffs, but it would help if they had anything as methodical and seasoned as the hurt the Mavs can put on you with that Dirk-Kidd-Terry unit out there.

  15. Jason J Says:

    Greyberger - I agree and think that Dallas can work that experience advantage a lot further. I actually don't think Dallas ran anything all that complex to get their points last night. Basically they switched their side pick and pop action from the right side of the floor to left side of the floor and threw in a second screener.

    If they work the baseline for Terry while running a high pick and roll between Barea and Dirk, I think that causes problems for the Heat who will have to put a larger defender on Jet w/ Barea on the court. We saw some of that against LA.

    At the other end, I thought the Heat abandoned the 3 - 4 pick and roll with James and Bosh too quickly. Chandler recovered to Bosh well a couple of times, and they just stopped, but if James really pushed it, I think they could have sucked the Mavs D in really tight and opened up some uncontested 3s (or if the Mavs didn't clog the paint, some interior attempts for LBJ).

  16. Luke M. Says:

    #4 - Huevonkiller, I don't think LeBron cares how he wins a title. If he felt any need whatsoever to win a title as "the man," he would've stayed in Cleveland. Or at the very least, he would've left but not gone to a team with an already established superstar who was already "the man."

  17. huevonkiller Says:

    Yeah too bad he has the most win shares in the playoffs, and leads the team in scoring. Whether you like him or not he can do A LOT better, on this team.

    I think you need to look at who's leading the league in all stats again this year, it doesn't matter where he plays he turns you into the second option. And last night was a joke, if he wins like that it means nothing.

    The Heat need a do-over, and need to assert themselves especially James.

  18. huevonkiller Says:

    BSK those shots were just fine a week. His 3 point shooting has been the hottest I've ever seen, I do understand the flawed mentality. There is some context for what he did.

    He's had NO conscience in the closing moments of games, and it has worked for him mostly. Time to go back to the bread and butter though, I concur.

  19. huevonkiller Says:

    *a week ago

    My bad.

  20. Luke M. Says:

    Huevonkiller - I'm not saying LeBron isn't the best player on the Heat, or that he doesn't have the potential to be the best player on that team. I'm saying he doesn't CARE how he wins a title. Your quote was "A huge loss, but is that the way James wanted to win a title? He was a role player last night. He doesn't want to win like that." My point was that if LeBron felt any sort of need to win a title as the undisputed best player on the team, he never would have gone to a team where it was even possible for him to win a title while someone else was the best player. It's definitely possible for the Heat to win with Wade as their best player, and LeBron had to know that going in.

    And I'm not sure what you mean by saying "if he wins a title like that it means nothing." If he wins while playing terribly, or as a role player, it'll still count. He'll still have 1 title. If he wins 3 more as the best player, nobody will say, "well, he won 4, but 1 of them doesn't really count." They'll say he won 4. Kobe has 5. I don't know how many times he was the best/most dominant player on those teams, but it certainly wasn't all of them. Rodman has 5 rings and he was never the most dominant player, and nobody says those titles are meaningless for him. If James wins with Wade carrying him, everyone will still say he won a title in 2011.

  21. huevonkiller Says:

    Every star in Miami is sacrificing, the net ranking is the same except Miami has a better chance of winning than Cleveland. For a game or two I can see James not caring if he defers, but usually that hasn't been the case.

    Under scrutiny people will admit Shaq is the cog to LA's success in the 3-peat, whether he won 4 titles to Kobe's 5. He's far better in the 3-peat.

    Magic has 5 titles, Kareem has 6, but Magic gets far more exposure from the Lakers for it. He was the younger and more important player. Kareem can't even get a statue built.

  22. Federico Says:

    Man, Lebron didn't just decided to dribble the ball andn chuck awkward 3s. Shawn Marion played some sick defense on him.

  23. AHL Says:

    Give Dallas some credit. Via NBA Playbook, they ran a double screen+roll, something they'd never done before in the series, which sparked the comeback.

  24. Luke M. Says:

    Huevonkiller - So are you saying that regardless of how many titles (if any) LeBron wins, none of them will matter/"count" unless he's the most important/best player on the team? Essentially that the only players who have "legitimate rings" since 1970 are the Finals MVPs who would be Abdul-Jabbar (2), Barry, Billups, Bird (2), Bryant (2), Chamberlain, Dumars, Duncan (3), Dennis Johnson, Magic Johnson (3), Michael Jordan (6), Moses Malone, O'Neal (3), Olajuwon (2), Parker, Pierce, Reed (2), Thomas, Unseld, Wade, Walton, Jo Jo White, and Worthy. And we'll throw West out because he was on the losing team. So that means no rings for Dr. J, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Jerry Lucas, Dave DeBusschere, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Pau Gasol... You get the idea. It's an interesting way to look at things, but I'm not sure I'd call it the correct way.

  25. sean Says:

    I don't know what is in LBJ's head or heart---but the move to Miami seems to indicate a concession on his part that being PART of a championship is what was top priority.

    I'm not saying that since moving to Miami that he hasn't upgraded his wish list to have him be THE man, e.g., MVP of the Finals--------like Burt Reynolds in 'The End' trying to negotiate down with 'the man upstairs' as he swam closer to safety... but to many LeBron assumed a lesser status in the unwritten code of legends as soon as he left for Miami, just as your new car depreciates in value the moment you drive it off the lot.

    So LBJ assumedly accepts that he may not be 'the man' on his own team, at least at some level.

    Regarding Bird's non-MVP in the 1981 Finals------Bird WAS the best/ most important player on the Celtics in that series. Maxwell was voted MVP because Bird had a tough shooting series and averaged just 15 ppg, whereas Maxwell averaged 18 ppg + (if my memory is correct) on much more efficient shooting. Problem was with that MVP vote, that Bird led all players (both teams) in steals AND assists for the series AND grabbed 15 rpg, nearly as much as Moses Malone for the series lead in THAT category. Maxwell was the nice secondary player that maybe played over his head------and thus got the sentimental vote. They also needed Maxwell to perform that well to win, but would have been in more dire straits had Bird not done what HE did.

  26. huevonkiller Says:

    Why do people act like LeBron didn't reaggravate his injury last year?

    All he did was move to a team where he's the best player in the league without having to average 30/8/8 every season in order to contend.

    It does have an effect on his health, and that's the priority. At that weight and playing style his career might not be as long as Jordan's and he needs to maximize these seasons. If anything he needs to use up less energy in the regular season, and Wade too. Only the playoffs matter.

    There's a reason you don't see swing players at 250+ pounds.

  27. huevonkiller Says:

    #24 Yeah the entire playoff run is probably more important. I imagine the Superstar order won't really change much.

    Luke the youth/importance factor isn't a theory, Magic is more popular and respected than Kareem. It is mostly due to being younger, they were comparable before but Magic was simply more important in the Dynasty. Same thing with Shaq. Kobe can have more rings but he has AI stats during the 3-peat (except in 2001).

  28. Nick Says:

    Magic being more popular and respected than Kareem is probably mostly because Magic is generally regarded as a great guy off the court and Kareem is considered to be kinda a jerk. Kareem was a better player than Magic, he just happen to play half his career in the least memorable stretch in NBA history.

    A few years ago, Pro-Football Reference did a blog post about Jerry Rice that argued he could have made the Hall of Fame twice if you cut his career into halves (both Even/Odd year and first half/second half worked IIRC). They also concluded he is the only player in NFL history this is true of.

    My mind now being on this track, I'm kinda curious how the same idea would work out applied to the NBA. Kareem is an obvious choice for consideration for that idea, and I think Russell, Jordan, and probably Wilt would make it, but beyond them, I'm not sure.

    Any thoughts? Other than this is really more of a post-season blog topic, I guess.

  29. huevonkiller Says:

    You're wrong, Magic is frequently seen as just a step below Jordan and ranked Higher than Kareem. People often say Jordan, then Bird or Magic.

    He's #4 on the ELO player rater. Intelligent people know he's overrated though Neil Paine even stated how Kobe was better. Kareem was a role player during the Dynasty. They may have started as equals but they clearly weren't at the end.

    Eventually the same will happen in Miami, and it happened with Kobe too. People don't even remember Shaq and his 36 PPG 14 RPG in three Finals.

  30. Nick Says:

    "They may have started as equals but they clearly weren't at the end. "

    They didn't start as equals. Kareem was the league MVP Magic's first year. And at the end Kareem was at the end of a career that was played half before Magic ever played a game. The guy had already won championships and MVPs before Magic was out of high school. If you just count the years they played together, Magic was overall better (from about his 4th year on). Kareem's career had a lot more to it than just the time with Magic.

  31. huevonkiller Says:

    I was referring to the early parts of the Laker dynasty, not just Magic's rookie season. Magic was better by his junior season, and from then on he got most of the glory. Jerry West is a scrub compared to Kareem but he has a statue, LA doesn't appreciate Kareem enough and that's because he arrived at the wrong time.

    I recognize Kareem had a career before Magic, but Magic is more popular and ranked higher overall. People remember him more because he contributed the most during their dynasty.

    If you force someone to have a logical discussion then things change, but people are enamored with the younger superstars in Dynasties.

  32. sean Says:

    I think the Lakers HAVE TO put up a statue of Kareem (and I believe they are)... Getting the statues is a lot to do with politics-----and Kareem doesn't do himself any favors in the personality department, and it's cost him in more ways than one (whether it's appropriate or not).

    In 'When the Game Was Ours', it was stated that Kareem wanted to get into business like Magic did after their playing days. Kareem went to Magic for guidance and told Magic that he 'wanted to be like him'...and Magic told him 'no you don't... you have to be on all the time/ you have to be nice/ approachable'... then Magic told Kareem a story about one of his clients and said that the guy years earlier had come to a Lakers game with his son and asked Kareem to take a photo---which Kareem gruffly declined. Magic (who admittedly was NOTHING next to Kareem---might have been his rookie year---offered to pose for a pic. 20 years later, the man is doing business with Magic and says that his kid still has that picture in his home. Magic told Kareem this story and basically said 'that shoulda been YOU... but you're not nice to people'.

    I think perhaps it was easy to bypass Kareem in favor of others and that much of the 'bypassing' wasn't rooted in basketball legacy necessarily.

    Kareem is getting older, perhaps less surly and more of a sympathetic (with an emphasis on pathetic) character and now maybe they'll throw him a bone.

    I think the jerk factor has delayed the statue to this point, though. It happens.

  33. cort Says:

    kareem was also not nearly as friendly with fans and media as johnson, and thus got much worse publicity. he rarely smiled, was muslim and vaguely militant at times, and very serious/touchy. johnson was happy go lucky, never met a camera he didnt like, and enjoyed being the center of attention. lived for it actually. kareem is far more introspective, articulate and intelligent. and publicly surly.
    i was thinking of the same passage about johnson and kareem in the macmullan "WTGWO" book too, sean. spot on.
    he also had some great battles vs. LA and wilt with milwaukee early in his career, but still played more years for LA than johnson (14-12). sure jabbar "deserves" a statue when compared to some who have gotten them and since they are giving them out a lot nowadays, but i find griping publicly about not having one a bit childish. especially in these times.
    one of main the reasons kareem has been passed over for coaching jobs and other NBA positions was his poor PR skill/personality. i think he is still bitter about a lot of things, which is silly when one considers he got to play a game for a living, became rich and famous, got a college scholarship, and had hundreds of people helping him achieve his goals (coaches, trainers, media, PR workers, etc.) who never get a sniff of a statue. i doubt jabbar has never held a "real 9-5" job.
    and as great as he was, he isnt even an NBA star if he is 6-7, or even an NBA player if he is 6-4 instead of 7-2. yes he suffered discrimination for his height and skin color, but come on, he has lived a rather charmed life in most respects.

    sort of reminds me of how bill russell refused to sign autographs for anyone, even teammates, as a principled player. but long after he retired, he would sign autographs and memorabilia at shows for money. hmm. i know he didnt make the huge money when he played, but i guess he must have needed it badly later in life.
    or how guys like hank aaron and oscar robertson dwell on the negatives and seem bitter years later about ill treatment 40-60 years ago. they forget they played a game for a handsome living, benefited greatly from the unheralded grunt work of others (trainers, coaches, fans, media/PR people, etc.), and basically never had to work at a real job. and that they got far more positive treatment than negative. aaron got a lot of positive mail too in his pursuit of ruth's record. yet all you hear about are complaints about some crappy letters he got.
    larry bird got death threats at the 1985 finals in LA. did he complain about it ad nauseum? no. i bet 99.99999% of people dont even know that he received the threats.