How Important is Game 5 in a Tied NBA Finals?

As this goes to press, Game 5 is about to tip off between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. The Celtics won Game 3 but lost Game 4, and while that’s not ideal for them the way taking a 3-1 lead back to San Francisco with them would’ve been (2016 aside, that’s pretty much an automatic win), it does put them into an absolutely critical Game 5. The winner of this series can afford to lose Game 6. The loser is going to have not one but two elimination games ahead of them if …

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Tied at 2-2, are the 2022 NBA Finals Over?

As we’ve demonstrated repeatedly over the past few weeks here (just look at the last few articles on the home page of this here site for the many, many ways we’ve carved up 7-game series scenarios during these playoffs), if you are the underdog in the NBA Finals and you win Game 3 to go up 2-1, the absolute worst thing you can do for your cause is to go out there and hand home court back by losing Game 4. Well…the Boston Celtics did exactly that Friday night, losing Game 4 to send the series back to San Francisco …

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The Importance of NBA Game 6 to Winning Game 7 (Part 2)

Yesterday, we took a look at every series that has gone seven games in the NBA playoffs since the league went to a best-of-seven format in 2003, trying to find a pattern in how winning Game 6 to stave off elimination worked out for the team that ultimately forced the Game 7. In 29 such series between 2003 and 2012, the team that had Game 7 at home won it 22 times, so that’s the most important factor of all; having that winner-take-all game on your own floor is the strongest determinant of whether you’re going to win it. Curiously, …

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The Importance of NBA Game 6 to Winning Game 7 (Part 1)

There are going to be two Game 7s played in the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. In one, we have the chance to see the home team run the table for just the sixth time since 2003, as the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have each won all three of their games at home, including a win by the Mavericks to force a Game 7 on the road. In the other, the Boston Celtics survived an elimination Game 6 in Milwaukee and now get to come home to Boston to try and win a Game 7 in a …

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Does the NBA Team That Wins Game 3 Win the Series? (Part 2)

Yesterday, we took a look at every series that went back to the underdog’s home arena tied 1-1 in order to determine whether Game 3 would, functionally, ultimately decide the series. What we mostly learned is that having home court advantage in the playoffs is so overpowering that even losing a game on their home floor doesn’t often stop the favorite. When the underdog wins Game 3 at home, they’re still only 6-11 when it comes to winning the actual series, a 29-53 pace over an 82-game season. When they lose? Only one team, the 2016 Thunder in their second-round …

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Does the NBA Team That Wins Game 3 Win the Series? (Part 1)

When the road team steals home-court advantage in the first two games of an NBA playoff series, they are too often undone by losing Game 3 on their home floor. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because you’ve probably read the two-part series on this site about whether “the series starts when the road team wins a game” in the NBA Finals, in which the trendline has overwhelmingly seen the underdog give home court back in Game 3 and go on to lose the series. Doesn’t matter whether it was the old 2-3-2 Finals format or the more recent …

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Was 2022 the Worst NBA First Round Ever?

The first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs has finally come to a merciful end with exactly nothing of interest happening at any point. That is to say, there were zero upsets—all of the top four seeds advanced in each conference—and none of the series went seven games. Indeed, only four series went even six games, with three ending on the favorite’s home floor in Game 5 and one, the Celtics-Nets dumpster fire, ending with a pretty little implosion of what was supposed to be a superteam and title contender but instead had Kyrie Irving on it, which only ends …

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The Phoenix Suns: Runaway 2022 Favorites

Since taking a 23-point loss at the hands of the Miami Heat to drop to 30-9 on January 8, the Phoenix Suns are 27-5, carrying a 57-14 record into the last 11 games of the season. Indeed, the Suns are so far ahead of the rest of the NBA field that their magic number is just three to clinch home court throughout the Finals. Memphis, at 48-23, and Golden State, at 47-23, are the only ones who can catch them in the West, and Miami, at 47-24, is the only team mathematically alive in the East to get a Game …

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When “3s And Layups” Goes Wrong

Critics of NBA aesthetics often say that the league has degenerated into a dumbed-down version of basketball where the only thing that matter are “3s and Layups”. And to a degree, they’re right—add in free throws to the mix and you’ve got the essentials of efficient basketball, which can be statistically measured and which have time and again borne out that those elements are the best way to score points. And since you can’t win if you don’t score more points than your opponent (duh), it stands to reason you want to maximize your efficiency. Granted, the critics of aesthetics …

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At 28-34, Washington Wizards Still Overachieving

How bad are the 2022 Washington Wizards? A team that started 10-3 is 18-31 since then, including a Friday night loss to the Atlanta Hawks that was a must-win for Washington if they hoped to remain in shouting distance of the bottom end of the play-in game race in the East. Their Net Rating of minus-2.8 on the season is seventh-worst in the league, and on paper they’re actually worse than the New York Knicks (25-38) and Indiana Pacers (22-43) below them. That’s right. The Wizards, at one point in November the Eastern Conference’s top seed, is even at 28-34 …

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