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2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 5

Posted by Neil Paine on June 9, 2011

Dallas' Series Win Probability Graph after Game 5 (Dallas leads 3-2):

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

Minutes Elapsed p(win)
0 46.7%
Game 1
12 48.0%
24 48.8%
36 42.3%
48 33.8%
Game 2
60 34.3%
72 34.9%
84 29.3%
96 54.0%
Game 3
108 46.0%
120 46.0%
132 45.9%
144 30.9%
Game 4
156 30.3%
168 27.2%
180 21.7%
192 45.0%
Game 5
204 43.0%
216 48.3%
228 53.4%
240 64.0%

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

64 Responses to “2011 NBA Finals Series Win Probability After Game 5”

  1. Anon Says:

    #46 - I absolutely agree Neil, and you mentioned this before. I'm still wrapping my mind around the causality aspect of this though.

    It's like playing that Mouse Trap board game - ask a kid what the most important part of the game is, and they'll probably say it's the cagetrap that comes down over the mouse. They would be right too; after all, if the cagetrap works then you achieve your objective. However, that is only possible if the rest of the trap that proceeds the cage drop actually works! Every other part of the trap then literally becomes just as important in that aspect, and it's why a bunch of kids (including yours truly) thought that game was a total rip-off. There's no point talking about the importance of the cagetrap if the damn swinging boot earlier in the trap doesn't work...

    How do you reconcile this?

  2. Anon Says:

    Also, DJ #49 - great write-up. Thanks.

  3. Anon Says:

    "Or are you going to give the ball to DWade cause it's safer?"

    The irony here (and I love D-Wade, he's been great this series) is that he has been far from "clutch" down the stretch of games 4 and 5. Remember, this is the guy that the media "wanted" to get the ball over LBJ in close games - and he's certainly gotten more touches after the media outrage over LBJ in game 2. Clearly Wade gets a "pass" from the media for winning a title in 2006, but in terms of how he's played down the stretch in this series, by their logic shouldn't he also be the most culpable for the Heat being down 3-2?

  4. UsuallyLurkin Says:

    If Wade is far from clutch in this series, then James is straight out choking. But it highlights the difficulty of scope in choosing the events upon which you should build your table of probabilities. If you tighten it too much, Miami should just give the ball to Chalmers and let him chuck something up from half court. If you loosen it too much, then just give it to Wade and let him dribble within an inch or two of any Maverick for a foul call.

  5. Jon Says:

    @21 I think the settled shot you referred to was a case of Dallas (more specifically Terry) getting inside LeBron's head. He went to that shot immediately after a Dallas (again I think it was Terry, but it may have been Kidd's) 3. It looked to me like he was playing the film director there, trying to ratchet up the drama by one upping the other team. Which had it worked would have been brilliant.

    It was not the best basketball play however. It also seemed to drain him when it didn't work.

    Yes, we are not logical in our valuations. The intriguing aspect of this to me is how do we apply that to LeBron himself. He isn't an airplane, he is all to human and I think he is much more susceptible to all the criticism he has received than he is letting on. He will be the first to tell you that he does not view these games as his career norms, but rather as something much more important to him.

    That doesn't throw out the concept that he can (and probably will) trend upwards towards his norms. It does raise some questions as to whether he is letting the moment get the best of him mentally. Watching LeBron, he is at his best when he seems not to have a care in the world, or looks like he has the game by the throat. At the end of games in the finals, he has not looked like that.

  6. Anon Says:

    "If Wade is far from clutch in this series, then James is straight out choking."

    I definitely agree that LBJ didn't play well down the stretch of games recently. But did you watch the end of Game 4? Wade missed the game-tying free-throw with a chance to help his team go up 3-1. Last night? Wade tov and missed shot with over a minute left and the team down 5. My point was simply that to those who construct the LBJ narrative, Wade is "The TRUE Man" down the stretch who hits the shots, brings his team back in crunchtime, and "makes up for LBJ's blunders"...except he's been exactly the opposite when the team has him take the ball over LBJ. Since these same people place this value on clutch production, doesn't this get factored in? Or are we just fascinated with size-fitting the "choker hat" on LBJ?

    By the way, I don't adopt these viewpoints. Just pointing out incongruities in the logic here.

  7. BSK Says:

    "Wade's injury killed Miami."

    My amateur eye told me that Miami, in general, and LeBron, specifically, played much better with Wade out.

  8. DJ Says:

    Anon asks: "Or are we just fascinated with size-fitting the "choker hat" on LBJ?"

    I think that because he has already been fitted with the choker hat, we look for evidence that confirms the label, and ignore evidence that disconfirms it. As UsuallyLurkin says: we tend to over-interpret patterns.

    So, for example, we think of Hakeem as this awesome playoff god, because of a few memorable playoff series (when he was, in fact, an awesome playoff god). Some people believe he's the best center of the last 25 years largely because he played so well in the playoffs. And we forget/ignore that his team was eliminated in the first round 8 of 15 times he went to the playoffs. But we decide he wears the champion hat and ignore the rest.

    I don't want to give James a pass on his performance in this finals, in the finals in 2007 and in game 6 (I think) last year against Boston. I think he deservedly should be downgraded for not playing up to his standards in the most important games. But, because he's got that choker hat on already, people forget about (for example) his stellar performance against the Magic in 2009. They don't notice that he's 8 for 8 in advancing out of the first round or that only once did he lose to a team that didn't play in the finals.

    Because Hakeem wears the champ hat and James wears the choker hat, Hakeem gets the benefit of "oh his teammates weren't good enough" and James doesn't. But look at Hakeem's '87-'89 squads and the teams that took them out (The Dale Ellis-led Sonics and the Aguirre-Harper Mavs) and then look at the teams that eliminated Bron's Cavs (the Billups-Hamilton-Prince-Wallace Pistons, the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili Spurs, the Garnett-Pierce-Allen Celtics and Howard's Magic) in comparison with the Cavs.

    But Hakeem had those couple of huge series against Robinson, against Ewing, and against O'Neal. So no one faults him for not carrying a mediocre squad to victory over some not-too-impressive opponents.

    Meanwhile, LeBron has left us with the image (for better or worse) of passing to players who missed shots and of not seeming to care at the end of that game against Boston. And so he takes all the blame for losing to very good teams, even though his teammates were little better than Hakeem's.

    It's cognitive inertia of sorts. Once Bronnie wins a championship or two, people will focus on that and forget his bad games.

  9. sean Says:

    @ #43...

    Anon Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 10:35 am
    "If this is his top gear, he's just not that GREAT. If this isn't his top gear-------then it's justified to ask critically: WHERE IS IT?"

    Were you watching the playoffs prior to the Finals?


    I'm talking about these Finals, specifically. I thought that was clear.

  10. sean Says:


    I'm NOT judging the whole future and past of LBJ's career based on these last 5 games, so please, nobody accuse me of that...
    I THINK James is better than what he's been in these last 5 games...
    I don't think James has been BAD so much as he hasn't been THAT good/ great...
    I THINK James has underperformed in the Finals...
    I THINK James' performance in the Finals thus far is ripe for criticism, as he is underperforming and I believe he is better than this...
    It seems that some folks aren't allowing any criticism of his performance to get by without some kind of apology for him----HEY, JUST FACE IT.... he hasn't been that good/ great in these Finals. Period.
    The more people apologize for his performance thus far in the Finals, the more they lower the bar for him regarding what is good/ great.
    YES, there are morons overblowing it-------on 'The Herd' on ESPN this morning, I think someone gave James a 'D+' for Game #5... He had a trip/ doub----and this clown gives him a D+... Don't allow a clown like that to make you OVER apologize for LBJ's Finals thus far. Just call his performance what it is. We should all be doing that.

    This is my impression: suppose someone showed us a picture of a girl. And the girl in the pic did NOT look that attractive... we can assume 1 of 2 things-----> either this girl REALLY is not pretty...OR.... she is pretty, but this is a bad snapshot of her.

    We CANNOT say, however, that she is actually REALLY pretty AND this is an accurate snapshot of her.

    It seems like some folks are trying to make LBJ's Finals thus far a better performance than it's been.

    I think he hasn't been that good-------but I also think he's better than this. I think it's a bad snapshot of him.

  11. Anon Says:

    Sean, yes I agree - James has not played up to par in the Finals. I'm not making excuses for him because he definitely CAN play better, and he SHOULD to help his team win. All I'm doing is showing much of the silliness in the LBJ dialogue. He's still arguably the best play in the league regardless. Wade could be the greatest championship performer in in sports history, his play is absolutely useless if teammates like James don't compensate for his play in prior rounds against better defenses so he can get to the Finals (see the ECF against the Bulls). Apparently, people who are eager to slam LeBron are acting as if the first three rounds didn't exist, especially in the ECF in which LBJ and Bosh had to make up for Wade's subpar play.

    LBJ puts up a legendary performance, people aren't satisfied with it if his team doesn't win. LBJ puts up a subpar performance with his team in the Finals lead (and a Wade ft miss away from tying the score in game 4 with an opportunity to go up 3-1), people are also not satisfied. The agenda here is clear as day...

  12. sean Says:

    At #61... Anon, I'm totally hearing your frustration. If people are writing off LeBron or discounting what he's done in prior playoffs, they're being silly.

    Yeah, and LeBron is is a VERY interesting bind. The RIGHT thing to do for him is to maybe continue with his protocol (though I have to admit that adding the wrinkle of posting up more---possibly in the 4th Quarter or when his jumper has abandoned him might be PART OF 'the right thing to do' going forward)-------but the hordes are clamoring for a 40 point explosion. What if he goes OFF and they lose?

    Like everyone else, you have to shut out the critics and just do/ make the right things/ decisions and perform. If it's not enough to win, you have to suffer the naysayers (even when they're wrong). Popular opinion will NEVER be a substitute for the truth. LeBron just has to do the right thing(s) and let the chips fall where they may. (I do think the right thing MUST incorporate more post-ups if the jumper isn't falling----hell, even if it IS falling, though).

  13. EastDallas Says:

    I agree that Lebron's 17/10/10 line is impressive, and he did have 4 assists in the fourth, but they ALL came before the 5 minute mark. He pulled up when Kidd was defending him, he has to take someone Kidd's size to the rack, and I think we can all agree that the three was ill-advised. He's catching the ball and then thinking about what he's going to do, rather than doing what's instinctive. He ran right into Chandler after catching a ball in the lower box, like it or not, that's a charge. He's letting Terry break him down, he's not helping on defense late in games. Do you really think it's better to let Dirk drive for an easy layup or dunk than to leave Terry open from 25 feet?

    I think he's struggling with what to do without the ball and I think that the Mavs are in his head little. Think about the way that Deshawn called him out, he didn't really 'talk trash', he said Lebron was a better player than he showed, and that sometimes it's easy to check out when you are watching someone else play the game at the level Wade was playing. If you are already doubting yourself those type of honest observations can play more with your head than trash talk.

  14. huevonkiller Says:

    I think it is very unlikely DeShawn is in his head, more than the 44 MPG he plays a night on both sides of the ball.

    If he can get Dirk's rest in the playoffs he'll be fine next season.