Monday, January 24, 2011

Boston Celtics to win the NBA title


A couple of weeks ago I posted the NHL mid-season standings and used the results of the season series to date to predict that the LA Kings would defeat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. It was a bit of a joke as LA have been crap since then, but it also shows you just how tight the playoff races are in the NHL.

That's not the case in the NBA, which has just passed its halfway point. Here, the conference leaders are just so much better that there is little point in doing this sort of predictive analysis; the top teams almost never lose a season series. Boston hit the midway mark at 32-9 to lead the East while San Antonio dominated the West with a 35-6 record. With so few defeats, it would be very unlikely that either team would have lost an intra-conference season series and that turns out to be the case. So Boston would face San Antonio in the final and would win based on their victory back on Jan 5.

Using 41-game records and NBA tiebreakers, the playoffs would set up like this:

Boston over Charlotte
Atlanta over Orlando
Miami over Philadelphia
New York over Chicago*

San Antonio over Portland
Dallas over Utah
Denver over LA Lakers*
Oklahoma City over New Orleans

Boston over Atlanta
Miami over New York
San Antonio over Dallas
Oklahoma City over Denver

Boston over Miami
San Antonio over Oklahoma City

Boston over San Antonio*

The * represents a series where the team with the better record is losing the season series. The Lakers-Denver matchup is a bit unfair; they played once in Denver before the midway point with the Nuggets winning and the Lakers home win a couple of days ago isn't counted here. Not that it matters, San Antonio wins the West over all comers.

This analysis isn't that interesting because talent differential between the top teams and those sneaking into the playoffs is significant in basketball. In the NHL, teams can be quite close in talent levels and there is no dominant squad, so it can be a bit more fun to guess what might happen, and the playoffs will have more upsets.

Still, with blockbuster trades to come (Carmelo Anthony for example) and injuries lurking, anything can happen, so I'll post another update for the NBA after 62 games have been played. Check back in 2 months for that.

Best,

Sean

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