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NY Times: Underdogs Have Little Bite in N.B.A. Playoffs

Posted by Justin Kubatko on April 8, 2011

Unlike the NCAA tournament, the NBA playoffs are not set up for "Cinderella" runs:

Keeping Score: Underdogs Have Little Bite in N.B.A. Playoffs

This will be my last weekly column for the New York Times this season, as they will move on to baseball next week. However I might contribute a few pieces during the playoffs. Thanks for reading this season.

5 Responses to “NY Times: Underdogs Have Little Bite in N.B.A. Playoffs”

  1. Colombia Says:

    Since winning your region in the NCAA Tourney means you get to the final 4, should the equivalent for the NBA be the conference finals?

  2. Justin Kubatko Says:

    I was thinking along the lines that each conference represented a "region" in the NBA bracket, so the NBA bracket has two regions and the NCAA tournament has four regions. Not a perfect comparison, I know.

  3. David Frantz Says:

    What I'm wondering is why underdogs win in the NBA playoffs so much less than in the NHL playoffs, despite how similar their playoff systems are.

  4. LamarMatic Says:

    In my opinion, NHL has more so called "Cinderella" stories because the game itself depends so much more on effort and being ready to fight for every inch of the rink. Not to mention how big part of the game is the goalie himself, who can win a series by himself just playing great. The best teams in NBA can win some of the underdogs simply by bringing their talent and only a half-assed effort.

  5. Neil Paine Says:

    Hockey lends itself to randomness because it's low-scoring, and games or even series can be won or lost based on one flukish bounce of a frozen rubber disc on ice. Basketball is far more deterministic because it's higher-scoring, the best players play a higher percentage of the game, the outcomes of possessions are more predictable, and players' skills tend to have more influence over the action relative to the luck factor. I'm not saying individual hockey players are more or less skilled than their basketball counterparts, but I'm saying one highly-skilled basketball player can exert much more influence on a game than an equally-skilled hockey player.