“All right, what do we think? What do we know? What can we prove?.”-And the Band Played On
I apologize for my lateness on this one but, sometimes, life happens.
And now we come to the time when I review all the numbers for Round 1, review the results versus the model and document the picks for Round #2. Lot’s of data to go over so let’s get right to it.
We’ll start with the Round 1 Picks and the post mortem. Let’s keep in mind that I can only forecast the likelyhood of an outcome. My method for predicting basketball games is good but randomness happens. Case in point, when I used my model for the second year in a row to pick the NCAA tournament, I was surprised to have picked the winner for the second straight year. I wasn’t surprised to have outperformed 97% of the ESPN public brackets.
Putting it another way, Vinnie del Negro and George Karl happen.
Let’s start with what I picked for Round 1:
The Model went 6-2 in Round one with only one dead on pick. Heat-Bucks was dead on. Spurs-Lakers and Thunder-Rockets hit the second most likely outcome. Three more series hit the third most likely outcome and Clips-Memphis and Nets Bucks went to the 4th most likely outcome. This was somewhat worse than previous years. However I will remind you of the method for making the picks:
- Setting the player Value
- Projecting Minute Allocation
- Running the Playoff Model
The important point in that equation is step 2. Remember, I am trying to predict what each and every coach will do. A very interesting thing happens if I run the model again and I just change the minute allocation to match team actuals for round 1.
The model is still 6-2 (with it now missing the result of Brk-Bulls and getting the Grizz-Clipps right) but now we have two series dead, 4 at the second most likely outcome and two going to the third most likely. Take out guessing at the minutes and it did a lot better.
Let’s review by series with my thoughts.
Thunder vs Rockets
Russell got hurt. Scotty Brooks got confused. Young Rockets rallied but fell short as young teams are wont to do.
Spurs vs Lakers:
The Lakers were a hospital ward. The Spurs recovered to early season form.
Nuggets vs Warriors:
Coach Karl was exactly who we thought he was. Mark Jackson was much better than expected. Curry and Iguodala were fantastic. The refs interjected themselves in Game 6. Sadly, Nuggets fans are used to this. Still waiting for the mother of all KarlWatch posts.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies
The Grizzlies front office took away Lionel Hollins’ bad options. Tony Allen is missed by the Celtics. Vinnie del Negro’s rotations were insane. Why did they bury Bledsoe again? CP3 not quite enough. Memphis looks dangerous. Is Phil ready to get back to coaching in LA?
Miami vs Milwakee:
Lebron James and the Heat are just stacked.
New York vs Boston:
There’s the Bad Melo and JR we all know and love. Mike Woodson has lost control of his guys. Kidd needs to step up and take control. Paging Steve Novak. Thanks to the Big Ticket and the Truth for a hell of a ride from Boston fans and basketball fans.
Indiana vs Atlanta:
The Pacers defense is good. The Atlanta nightlife is still very good apparently.
Nets vs Bulls:
The Bulls had their supposed MVP out (Rose), actual MVP on one leg (Noah), third best guy in the hospital (Deng), best remaining guard in a boot (Hinrich) and the Nets still lost to them. More impressive is that any of these injuries might end Derrick Rose’s career. At this rate, we’re going to be calling it the Rose theory not the Ewing Theory.
Prokhorov mini-giraffe is very sad right now.
By the way, Dwight Howard/Pau Gasol/Nash for DWill/Brook/Humphries, who says no?
Now let’s look at the top performers. First as table by team:
And yes, I did deviate from the model this time for the Smackdown. Sue me.
Spurs vs Warriors:
The Warriors — helped by the healthiest Bogut that we’ve seen outside a Bucks uniform — did what they were supposed to do. I had picked Denver in seven but that pick presumed a limited amount of minutes for Bogut. Add a healthy Bogut, a rather impressive coaching job by Mark Jackson to the typical George Karl lineup hatchet job in the playoffs and the warriors winning a series they came out to play in was to be expected.
As for the Spurs, the big question was if they were the team that won 67 of 82 over the close of last season and the beginning of this one or the team that limped into the playoffs. The evidence points to the Spurs once again being a historically great team. I think the Warriors are a better team than their record, which is why I’m not picking a sweep.
Spurs in 5 Games (94.9% Win probability)
X-Factor: Curry with cheat mode engaged.
Thunder vs Grizzlies:
I must commend the Memphis front office for addressing their teams weaknesses this season. In Hollins, the Grizzlies have a coach who runs an extremely tight defensive ship but who has a tendency to go iso-crazy which, given the fact that he has the some of the best post players in the NBA, is pure madness. By taking away Rudy Gay and getting Prince and the way underrated Ed Davis, Memphis has turned itself into an improved version of their 2011 team. The Thunder needed Russell Westbrook at his apex to beat that team in seven.
This is why as much as my model loves Kevin Durant and the Thunder, I am going Grizzlies.
Grizzlies in 6 Games (38.2% Win probability)
X-Factor: Z-Bo destroyer mode or Kevin Durant going into I-got-this mode.
New York vs Indiana:
We know that Carmelo Anthony is not a superstar. His belief that he is led him to be the worst player on the Knicks in Round one. Don’t get me wrong, Melo has all the physical gifts required to be a superstar. It’s his decision making that lets him down. When Melo plays within the Knicks system, when he passes the ball to the open man, when he avoids long, contested two-pointers and he takes to the post, the Knicks are a real contender. Meanwhile, the Pacers are a good, young defensive team. Those kind of teams tend to falter right about now. I trust Jason Kidd more than I fear bad Carmelo Anthony.
But betting on Melo makes me even more squeamish than betting on George Karl.
Knicks in 7 Games (61.7% Win probability)
X-Factor: The simple story of Dr. Anthony and Mr. Melo.
Miami vs Bulls
When the season started Miami was a good but flawed team. They were missing one more quality big. Of course Riley managed to find a world class big on the waiver wire. The current version of the Heat is unfair. The only real question for the Heat in round two is: sweep or gentleman’s sweep? Chicago is a walking Mash unit but Thibbs is a great coach. They steal one in this series.
Regardless of the outcome, the Bulls have my respect.
Heat in 5 over Bulls (97.9% Win probability)
X-Factor: Derrick Rose getting some courage and stepping up. Won’t happen.