Category Archives: NBA Playoffs

NBA Finals Preview: The Trilogy

After three brutal rounds of intramural B-league competition, the series we have all been waiting for is finally here. For the first time in NBA history, the same teams will meet in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. Last year’s installment was incredible, and in my humble opinion this year’s edition will pack more talent onto the floor than any series in the history of the NBA Playoffs, with a combined 45 All-Star game appearances and 7 MVP awards across the competing rosters. Although the Cavs are the defending champs, and the Model suggests betting the house on the Warriors.
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NBA Playoffs Conference Finals

Thankfully the Celtics and Wizards delivered us one 7-game series in what was an otherwise surprisingly non-competitive second round. John Wall and Isiah Thomas both had breath-taking moments, but in the end, it was the notoriously cold-blooded Kelly Olynyk who closed out the Wizards just as the model predicted (OK, maybe not that last part). In the Western Conference, the Warriors are clearly bored, and the Spurs took down the Rockets in one of the strangest, most anti-climactic elimination games I have ever seen. Let’s hope that James Harden gets his talents back from the aliens in time for next season. Continue reading NBA Playoffs Conference Finals

2017 NBA Playoffs Simulation

According to our NBA playoff model, the probability of the Clippers winning their first round match up is 0.41. However, what happens if they do win their first round matchup – and what is the probability of the Clippers making it to the conference finals? Or winning the NBA championship? While we can assume that these values would be less than 0.41, the initial predictions alone do not supply us with the answer.
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2017 NBA Playoff Bracket

Our NBA Playoff model calculates win probabilities for each series matchup based on each team’s regular season statistics. We used multiple regression techniques to develop a variety of models. We arrive at our consensus winners by taking the average prediction from a handful of our most successful models. For a more detailed breakdown of these NBA models, and to see our 2015 & 2016 brackets, check out our NBA Playoff Bracket Methodology. Our model has picked 78% of series winners correctly, along with 15 of the past 27 champions. In other words, on an average year, it gets 11.7 of the 15 series winners correct and has a 56% chance of getting the champion correct. Our predictions for the 2017 playoffs are shown below:
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NBA Modeling Methodology

Our data is built off of all regular season games since the 1989-1990 regular season, giving us 27 seasons in all. It was fun to test our models performance over the Jordan-dominated 90’s, the Shaqobe 00’s, and to the modern pace-and-space era. There is no doubt that the style of play in the league has changed drastically over this time. This poses a challenge for modeling the most recent seasons, as most of our training data will not reflect the boom in outside shooting that we are seeing in the game today.
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