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2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 4

Posted by Neil Paine on June 8, 2011

Miami's Series Win Probability Graph after Game 4 (Series tied 2-2):

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

Minutes Elapsed p(win)
0 53.3%
Game 1
12 52.0%
24 51.2%
36 57.7%
48 66.2%
Game 2
60 65.7%
72 65.1%
84 70.7%
96 46.0%
Game 3
108 54.0%
120 54.0%
132 54.1%
144 69.1%
Game 4
156 69.7%
168 72.8%
180 78.3%
192 55.2%

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

37 Responses to “2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 4”

  1. Anon Says:

    This series is just bonkers.

  2. JTaylor21 Says:

    Really, Bron. 3-11? Only 11 shots for the league second leading scorer. 8 less shots than Chris Freaking Bosh? I mean seriously he waits until the f*cking NBA finals to become passive. What happened to the Bron that was beasting against the two best defensive team in the L during EC playoffs?

  3. Anon Says:

    The new wrinkle in the irrational LBJ narrative:

    LBJ with Cavs: plays great game with subpar teammate play, might miss a "key" shot late (or make it as well, but we'll say miss for sake of argument), media/fans rip him for single miss regardless of individual performance or teammate performance. Labeled a "choker".

    LBJ with Heat: plays subpar game offensively, another teammates plays great but misses a "key" shot late (Wade miss ft to tie the game, coming from a opposite end of the court LBJ pass), media/fans rip LBJ for individual performance regardless of the teammate's miss of "key" shot. Labeled a "choker".

    ...just find this interesting.

  4. Anon Says:

    Also, let's jus say Wade makes both fts to tie the game and the Heat go on to win it. With other players in the past who don't play well offensively but whose team wins, the narrative after the game would be "player X wins game with 'gritty', 'gutsy' performance and, with his struggles from the field, managed to will his team to victory". For LBJ (as seen after Game 3), it's "LBJ rides fellows teammates to victory".

    As Andande put it so eloqeuently, LBJ can't win...even when he wins.

  5. HY Says:

    Game 1~3, I don't think LBJ played bad. Game 4, no doubt. He had a terrible game. I don't know it's Spoelstra's plan or LeBron just being passive but that was a bad game anyway.

    Perhaps LeBron is too tired because of his heavy minutes throughout the playoffs? We'll see in Game 5.

  6. Dre Says:

    Awesome stuff! I notice 20% drop in the span of 12 minutes after 4 games. Has there ever been such a big change in odds of winning in a finals? Or rather where does this rank in terms of probability of winning changing in one quarter of play?

  7. Luke Says:

    Well, if nothing else, LeBron's decision to take his talents to South Beach has proven that Dwyane Wade is a better player. Okay... "proven" might not be the right word, but if LeBron were playing anywhere near Wade's level in this series, it'd be over already.

  8. sean Says:

    LeBron is experiencing uber-scrutiny as a result of the wacky nature of our society. Everything is knee-jerk, everything is 'what's the temperature now; then 5 seconds later what's the temperature NOW?!? And how 'bout NOW!?? And NOW!!?? And how 'bout NOW??' every 5 seconds.

    The media hardly wants answers. They just want to create more QUESTIONS for the impatient, front-running, non-committal ghouls that (unfortunately) make up SOOOO much of our society.

    It is some SHOW to watch a propped up personality struggle. The dysfunctional public wants blood--------and the creepy media, desperate to write something/ talk about something is all too eager to be that devil on your shoulder who says: 'look! look! there's some blood HERE!!'

    Of course, LeBron generates LITTLE sympathy as he has played a big role in building up the expectations, thus CREATING the opportunity for hyper-reaction to ANYTHING that could be construed as a fall or as 'failure'.

    LeBron has played a solid FINALS. Game 4 WAS weak, yes. It was 1 game. I cannot explain it---but it was ONE game. Wade has been VERY good in the Finals-----hardly a reason to KNOCK James. As a matter of fact, it may be MORE a reason to quietly nod at LBJ's direction with APPROVAL. LBJ IS a facilitator. If the ball is getting to the right hands in the right spots-----the facilitator's job is being done. Quietly, perhaps (and of course our whack-nut culture hates QUIET). And the fact that LeBron's self-expression on and off the court is anything BUT 'quiet' hurts the LeBron Sympath-O-Meter ratings. Rather than be RATIONAL, the hordes become VENGEFUL. Rooting for a hero is fun, but tearing him down---for some/many---is even BETTER. Especially if he gives you an open window.

    Wade DID have the ball in HIS hands in the critical moments last night---and he missed a tying FT, then fumbled away an inbounds pass for a final shot, down 3. As great as he's been, he has his own culpability.

    It's 2-2. I still like Miami to win. I think LBJ will have a HUGE game #5.

  9. sean Says:

    I have to say this though... Teams CANNOT be allowed to but 6'3" (and old ones, no less) on LeBron James-------and have LeBron NOT make them pay for it.

    He HAS TO have a post game where he abuses you if you try to go small on him. I didn't see that last night. What I saw was him just being driven deeper away from the basket on possessions. He did the Mavs a favor by not posting up J Kidd. Miami can't let that happen again. It becomes too easy to defend him and it shouldn't be easy to defend LBJ. By putting J Kidd on LeBron, the Mavs are able to get J Kidd OFF of Wade (plus for the Mavs)and use him without repercussion on LeBron (big plus for the Mavs).

    Miami has to put a stop to that. GREAT players who play at the top WILL (and should) slide down to the post to abuse a little guy when given the opportunity.

  10. sean Says:

    That should say 'PUT 6'3"' guys on LBJ...

  11. Neil Paine Says:

    #6 - This is pretty big for the middle of a series, but the biggest changes (since 1992) typically occur very late, when the leverage index is highest:

    1. 2010, Game 7: Celtics' p(W) drops 65.5% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    2. 1998, Game 6: Jazz p(W) drops 46.8% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    3. 2005, Game 7: Pistons' p(W) drops 44.9% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    4. 1992, Game 6: Blazers' p(W) drops 38.1% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    5. 1997, Game 5: Jazz p(W) drops 37.6% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    6. 1994, Game 7: Knicks' p(W) drops 30.2% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    T7. 1997, Game 6: Jazz p(W) drops 29.8% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    T7. 2003, Game 6: Nets p(W) drops 29.8% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    9. 2000, Game 6: Pacers' p(W) drops 28.1% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    10. 2003, Game 3: Nets p(W) drops 26.8% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    11. 2010, Game 7: Celtics' p(W) drops 26.1% between the end of game 6 and the end of the 1st Qtr

    12. 2005, Game 6: Pistons' p(W) drops 25.3% between the end of the 4th Qtr and the end of OT

    13. 2011, Game 2: Heat p(W) drops 24.7% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    14. 2006, Game 6: Mavs' p(W) drops 23.6% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    15. 1998, Game 2: Jazz p(W) drops 23.3% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

    16. 2011, Game 4: Heat p(W) drops 23.1% between the end of the 3rd Qtr and the end of the game

  12. DSMok1 Says:

    Neil--could you make a list of the most exciting series, by simply summing up the total deltas? That would also penalize the shorter series. Perhaps also listed "through X games" to see how this series stacks up.

  13. Neil Paine Says:

    #12 - Most exciting series thru 4 games, according to that metric:

    Year sum(delta)
    2003 1.3573
    1992 1.3005
    2009 1.2002
    2008 1.1795
    1998 1.0585
    2011 1.0397
    2010 1.0331
    1995 1.0203
    2006 0.9864
    2004 0.9733
    1994 0.9670
    2001 0.8665
    2000 0.8662
    1997 0.8366
    1993 0.8258
    1999 0.7928
    2005 0.6566
    1996 0.5951
    2002 0.5931
    2007 0.4888
  14. sean Says:

    @ #7: Might be harder to play ar similarly high levels when you're taking turns (e.g., who's the hot hand?) while BOTH of you are playing from the top of the key.

    If one of them did something different, they could perhaps more easily be BOTH playing near 'Wade's level' for the series. They could BOTH be 'doing their thing' at a high level in the same game/ series.

    It resurrects the old questions about their functional compatibility. Last night was a perfect opening for LeBron to slide down and post up a smaller defender. He appeared to have ZERO interest in doing that.

  15. Romain Says:

    Speaking of Wade, he now has played 10 Finals games in his carrer, here are his stats:
    32.7 ppg - 7.9 rpg - 4.0 apg - 2.2 spg - 1.3 bpg
    0.511 from the field, .740 from the FT line

    Not too bad!

    It'd be interesting where he stands among all-time greats who have played at least 10 Finals games

  16. Anon Says:

    "Okay... "proven" might not be the right word, but if LeBron were playing anywhere near Wade's level in this series, it'd be over already."

    And if Wade played near LBJ's level in the ECF, the Heat sweep the series and win every game by double digits. Did you forget that he was virtually invisible in that series?

    Good points from Sean. I actually read an article where it covered LBJ's post game - he actually has played great in the post. I'll see if I can get the link.

  17. Neil Paine Says:

    Funny/sad tweet from @tr3yball:

    "I remember when DeShawn Stevenson used to talk bad to/about LBJ in his Wizards days and LeBron would embarrass that man, not last night tho"

    I have to admit, last night this seemed like a thousand years ago:

  18. Anon Says:

    Here's a good read Sean -

    They should help LBJ offensively by running more plays in the post for him, and he should make a more conscious effort to post-up if he sees the mismatch.

    Neil - among the best sports beefs ever.

  19. Bob Says:

    @ #3 and Sean:

    This is a little bit unfair to Rose, isn't it? Here he was blasted for not being effective taking shots when the rest of the team was struggling scoring just like LBJ was in CLE, and for not being "clutch" when somebody else carried the team, like LBJ is now.

    @ Neil:

    The 2003 NBA Finals were the best Finals I've seen in my life. It's a pitty it wasn't so popular at the time and didn't bring as much audience as other less competitive ones. I think it's the most underrated Finals in the last 10 years.

  20. Neil Paine Says:

    #19 - Unfortunately, I think people lump it together with the 2002 Finals (one of the least-competitive Finals of the last 20 years) because New Jersey lost both times to a dynastic team.

  21. huevonkiller Says:

    Anon, there's a reason players don't normally play 44-45 minutes a game even during the playoffs.

    LeBron has nothing left, imo, he's got too much mass and too much speed to sustain that kind of minutes on the court.

    And please, the Wade fans are obnoxious it is why I like Kobe more even though he's worse than Wade. Wade took plenty of plays off on the road to the Finals and has a soft matchup. I'm in Miami too so I don't need to be lectured about anything.

  22. huevonkiller Says:

    *to sustain those kind of minutes

    Erik messed up, with that freakishly physical style flying around everywhere you have to be careful. Wade's playing style is dangerous and LeBron is even more so, he should have taken games off like Shaq.

  23. huevonkiller Says:

    It's like those people that were impressed beyond recognition that Kobe destroyed the Phoenix suns last year. The Playoffs are about matchups, the Mavs are a weak*** team on the peimeter. In 2006 LeBron/Kobe destroyed them at a freakish level.

    Yeah Dirk is the biggest Choker in my era and even he had a "Second shot" late into his career. You have Laker fans coming on here during the regular season, like Anonx2, demanding Dirk get another MVP. And talking up his "clutch" ability, that's just ironic. What a fool.

    I still think James should have gone to Chicago though, I do think my brain is a little sharper than his in that sense. He would never have had to deal with this stuff.

  24. Julius Says:

    #6 #13
    That would also be the second biggest collapse in the Finals should Miami eventually lose that series, only second behind... Miami-Dallas in 2006 ;-)

  25. Bill Says:

    Well, the problem with collapse evaluation is that assumes the coin isn't weighted. There's a reasonable chance 2006 was played with a weighted coin -- an NBA employee has stated the outcomes were being manipulated by the officials.

  26. Luke Says:

    I admit LeBron is an amazingly talented player, and most of the time, shows us why it was such a big deal for him to take his talents to South Beach. But I hate the guy. I never really liked him much in Cleveland - I was mostly indifferent to him, but I hate him now that he's in Miami. And yes, I enjoy watching him lose. And as much as I like Dirk and Kidd and the rest of the Mavericks, I would probably enjoy watching LeBron lose to anyone more than I'd enjoy watching Dallas win. But you can't deny that, objectively, for whatever reason, LeBron has had a very poor Finals so far.

    LeBron's Finals numbers: 4 games, 17.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 3.3 TO/G, and 26-56 shooting (.464)
    The rest of the playoffs: 15 games, 26.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 1.5 BPG, 2.9 TO/G, and 131-283 shooting (.463)

    I know it's a small sample size, and LeBron's assists and steals are up a bit, but he's shooting the same percentage, so he's scoring less, rebounding less, blocking less, and turning the ball over more. And he's shooting the same percentage, so the only reason he's not scoring as much can only be because he's not shooting as much. If the Heat end up losing this series, that's all anyone will remember, is that LeBron shrank under pressure/shied away from the big moments as the stakes got higher.

  27. Raoul Says:

    Coach Spo was using Lebron like Magic. Doing a high post at times and passing off. I agree that he needs to do more posting at the low post and try to get to the rim from there or pass off. I think a big deal with last night was the Dallas zone. Miami didn't react to it well and as a result, went scoreless for...almost 5 minutes(?). Miami needs to address the zone properly, otherwise this is going back to Miami with Dallas up 3-2.

  28. huevonkiller Says:


    Kobe was my favorite player for a while, I still found the critics of James annoying even back then.

    Misleading on your part, the first three games followed the gameflow. Wade scored in heavy iso-sets on a weak Kidd/Terry/DS. He's not going to rack up assists in those situations.

    People have a problem with Game 4, as do I, but I'm curious to see what else is left. I think he's tired but I'll know more depending on what else happens.

    Regardless Erik should have been more intelligent with James, his elbow was still wrapped in ice back in the October training camp. He doesn't seem like the type of player that will have a super long career, better be careful.

  29. Luke Says:


    That certainly wasn't meant to be misleading. I just looked up the numbers and averaged them out. He had a phenomenal conference finals. He's having a sub-par finals. I don't know how you can objectively say that's not true unless you're a diehard Miami/LeBron fan. I hate the guy and want him to lose, but I still generally try to be objective on my assessments of him (and every other player) regardless of my personal feelings towards them.

    Also, LeBron has MORE assists in the finals than he does the rest of the playoffs, so I'm not sure what you mean about the iso-sets for Wade not racking up assists. And I'm not sure about the "game flow" argument either. LeBron did okay, but certainly not what you'd expect from the world's most talented player (and I mean that, it's not sarcasm.) Just for comparison's sake, here's the same stats for Wade:

    Wade's Finals stats: 4 games, 29.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.5 TO/G, and 49-80 shooting (.613)
    Rest of the playoffs: 15 games, 24.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 3.3 TO/G and 120-265 shooting (.452)

    Wade has stepped it up in pretty much every category in the Finals, while LeBron has gone down, which was all I was trying to say.

  30. sean Says:

    @ #18...

    Anon, terrific article. Thanks for the link... couldn't have had better timing with that, bro. Yeah... I believe he CAN do it. 'WHY DIDN'T HE' is what is vexing me. Post up the little ankle-biters, LBJ! Make 'em pay!

  31. CJ Says:

    Styles make fights. Wade has a much more favorable match-up against Dalls than he did against Chicago. Bogans and Brewer gave him hell, while LeBron was matched up against a game but overmatched Luol Deng. He was also effective when they ran PnR with Korver's man. Chicago does help and show aggressively, but Thibs doesn't really like to double. I'm not a big X-and-O guy, but for whatever reason, Dallas' zone has really disrupted LBJ more than Wade.

  32. Robert Says:

    Really, 23, Dirk is the biggest choker of this era? You're on, go ahead and go look at his stats in the playoffs and 4th quarter for his career. People that make such blatantly wrong blanket statements should be tracked down and scalped for their stupidity. I'm going to write my congressman and suggest a government program that handles these kinds of situations.

  33. huevonkiller Says:


    Yeah Wade has "Stepped" it up against a weaker defense, the Bulls are the best defense in the NBA. Funny how that works when you have a weak backcourt defending you.

    It is about matchups, Wade has a much more favorable one and LeBron let the hot hand do his work. Wade needs the ball in his hands to make it work, it was part of the gameflow. You're not really following how weak a matchup Wade has, it made sense at the time.

    Game 4 is a different matter, but don't try to lecture to me about how someone coasting through the first and third round, who doesn't play 44 minutes a night, is having such a historic series. He's playing great but it is within the confines of the matchup on the court.

    Even against Boston adjusted plus-minus says Paul Pierce is the best perimeter defender. Even then James had a tougher two-way assignment.

  34. Luke Says:


    I didn't say Wade was having an "historic" series. I said he was playing better in the Finals than he had in the previous rounds and that LeBron was playing worse in the Finals than he was in previous rounds. Not a lecture, just pointing out some stats.

  35. Ray Says:

    CJ Says:
    "for whatever reason, Dallas' zone has really disrupted LBJ more than Wade."

    When LeBron is handling the ball, he tends to walk it up and then pound the hell out of it. Unfortunately, lots of passing and maximizing the use of your shot clock are even more important against zone defenses.

    He's the most talented player on the planet, and he's made strides in his post game, defense, and perimeter shooting... but excess dribbling and poor time management continue to be serious problems for him.

  36. huevonkiller Says:

    Ok chill I'm talking about the first three games of the Finals. I know about game four, and also I'm not sure who wins game five or who plays well in the future.

    Luke that doesn't invalidate anything. Wade didn't decide to step down against the 2006 Bulls, and step up against the 2006 Mavericks. The Mavs are weak defensively at his position, Chicago isn't.

  37. sean Says:

    Bob sez: @ #3 and Sean:

    This is a little bit unfair to Rose, isn't it? Here he was blasted for not being effective taking shots when the rest of the team was struggling scoring just like LBJ was in CLE, and for not being "clutch" when somebody else carried the team, like LBJ is now.


    I know I came off heavy handed with Rose after the Heat series. My intention was NOT to blame Rose for the Bulls defeat---but rather INCLUDE him in it. He did not play well in addition to his teamates. If the Bulls do acquire help for Rose, Rose might have to adjust his game to benefit the team, too. I don't think going forward that the Bulls can have Rose taking the shots he did and get to the next level.

    I don't think I criticized Rose when somebody else had a good game in a Bulls win.