Monday Playoff Thoughts

Posted on May 26, 2008 by


Here are some less than serious thoughts NBA playoff thoughts for a Monday:

Imagine that both the Spurs and the Pistons knew before this current round began that after three games of the conference finals each would be down 2-1.  Knowing this would these teams rather

– have won the first game on the road, then lost two straight?

– won the second game on the road, but lost the first at home (like the Pistons)?

– lost both games on the road, but won the first game at home (like the Spurs)?

Ignoring the characteristics of each team and their opponent, which is a better scenario for a team down 2-1?

If we think momentum matters in the playoffs (and I think there are studies on this but I forget what they say), then the Spurs are the happier team.  This means the Spurs should have been happy to lose both games on the road and be down 2-0 (if they knew they were going to be down 2-1 from the start).

Here is another way to address the same issue.  Which fans are currently happier – Spurs fans or Pistons fans?  My sense is that the Spurs fans are feeling pretty good right now.  Pistons fans (and I am one) have to be a bit disappointed that they could not win their first conference finals game at home.

Whether momentum really matters in the playoffs to the teams, I do think it changes our attitude towards our team.  We are happier when our team has just won.  When our team wins we start to think “if they just played like that all the time, they would always win, and I would always be happy.”  Of course, that line of reasoning is silly.  After all, there is more to life than the success of our sports teams. Right?

– DJ

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Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.