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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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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“Suck Faster” Revisited: Relating Pace to Net Rating

It’s been awhile since we’ve taken a deep, obscure statistical dive around here and squeezed every little dust particle of data out of it, hasn’t it? So why not put that hat back on and revisit a concept first examined in the very early days of this site’s existence? In 2017, I wrote about the Brooklyn Nets under Kenny Atkinson, long before they got their current roster, and considered how combining an up-tempo style with a plug-awful team only managed to make Brooklyn 9-35, holders of the league’s worst record on January 25, 2017, a state of affairs that ultimately …

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Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Stats (2021-22 Edition!)

It’s time for the third annual edition of Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Stats! If you’re not familiar with the concept, you can read the 2019-20 edition or the 2020-21 version, but the basic idea is after the first week of the season, when every team has played two or three games, there are all kinds of wacky statistical anomalies from players and teams getting off to hot (or ice-cold) starts. Projecting them for the entire season can be all kinds of fun and produce some insane forecasts that speak to just how powerful the Law of Averages …

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Giannis Has a Title. Can He Be the GOAT?

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals, winning the Greek Freak his first championship in his eighth season in the league. It took Michael Jordan seven years in the NBA to become a champion. LeBron James got his first ring in his ninth year. With the 5-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA, 4-time All-Defensive (including Defensive Player of the Year in 2020), 2-time MVP already in possession of a fringe Hall of Fame case even if he never plays another NBA game, he’s added a ring to that list of accolades. But let’s speculate …

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