Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If you're the San Antonio Spurs...

I don't know about you, but I've found these NBA Playoffs to be more exciting than the last editions. Aside from Indiana-Atlanta (no offense), all first round match-ups had some backstory to them.
It got even better in the second round, the Bulls shocking the basketball world by stealing Game 1 against Miami, with Stephen Curry catching fire NBA-Jam-style in San Antonio. And then we get to conference finals, with buzzer-beaters to win games, crazy rallies and every other game going to overtime. The drawback of course is that I cut my life expectancy by three years due to the adrenaline rushs.

Okay, enough of the NBA advertising (I swear I'm not getting a dime from David Stern), what do the stats whisper as of today May 29th? Well, Spurs have some waiting to do until they figure out who their Eastern opponent is going to be...

Indiana or Miami in the Finals??

Tough choice if you've watched the last games, but the stats are oblivious to feelings, only hard facts matter, and the Heat remain a strong favorite, with almost 66% probability. Here's the probability breakout:

Winner Number of Games Probability
Miami 6 32.5%
Indiana 6 17.3%
Miami 7 33.1%
Indiana 7 17.1%

Spurs' 5th trophy?

As of today, here are the each team's probability of bringing the Larry O'Brien trophy home:

NBA team Champion Probability
SAS 47.5%
MIA 39.6%
IND 12.9%

If Miami wins the series against Indiana, San Antonio's probability of winning it all drops to 39.8%:

Winner prob
San Antonio 4 4.4%
Miami 4 7.8%
San Antonio 5 8.2%
Miami 5 17.6%
San Antonio 6 15.2%
Miami 6 15.5%
San Antonio 7 12.0%
Miami 7 19.3%

If Indiana wins the series against Miami, San Antonio's probability surges back to 62.5%:

Winner prob
San Antonio 4 7.9%
Indiana 4 4.0%
San Antonio 5 18.9%
Indiana 5 7.3%
San Antonio 6 15.2%
Indiana 6 15.2%
San Antonio 7 20.4%
Indiana 7 11.1%

The big probability swing is of course due to the historical performance of both teams over the regular season and playoffs but also to the change in home court advantage: San Antonio has homecourt against Indiana, not against Miami.

So while San Antonio will not officially voice any preferences (and might even suggest Miami 'cause you're only considered the best if you beat the best), I can't help but feel that deep-down they got to hope for the unexperienced Pacers to end up against them on basketball greatest stage.

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