The Chicago Bulls Collapse — or The Heat Rise — and The Wages of Wins Network Weekend Podcast

Posted on May 28, 2011 by


Mosi Platt and I spent Friday afternoon recording another podcast (which we hope everyone will enjoy).  Before we get to the podcast and a discussion of what Mosi and I discussed (see below), let me offer some quick comments on how the Chicago Bulls have once again made me unhappy. 

With three minutes to go in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Chicago Bulls had scored four more points than the Miami Heat in the series.  Yes, up until that point, the Bulls had at least played as well as the Heat.  After that point, though, the Bulls collapsed (again) and the Heat won the series in five games.

Normally this would make me somewhat happy.  As a fan of the Detroit Pistons, I am not a fan of the Chicago Bulls.  But in the TrueHoopSmackdown, I had picked the Bulls to advance to the NBA Finals.  Here is how I justified this pick:

“The problem for the Heat is that Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem are really not available (and both are more productive than the non-Supermen who are playing). So I guess I am stuck with the Bulls. Perhaps, though, this is a good thing. My sense is that most people will like the Heat. And I need to have one pick that is different than most people if I am going to have any hope of moving up.”

So my reasoning was

  • without Miller and Haslem, the Heat were really not a better team than the Bulls (who also had homecourt advantage).
  • and by picking the Bulls, I had a chance to win this contest.

The second point was detailed at Skeptical Sports by Ben Morris (one of the other participants in this contest).  As one can see from Ben’s illustrations, had the Bulls won there was a good chance that I could be in the lead (or very close to the lead) heading into the NBA Finals.

After the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, my strategy looked very good.  With Miller and Haslem barely leaving the bench, the Bulls won by 21 points.  At that point in the playoffs, Miller had played less than 40 total minutes and Haslem had played less than 10.  With these players unavailable, I really liked my chances.

But then in Game Two of the series, both players suddenly were available.  And with Miller and Haslem combining for about 40 minutes of playing times (close to what each had played the entire post-season), the Heat tied the series.

The Heat – again with Miller and Haslem playing about 36 combined minutes – also took Game Three.  At that point – as I noted last Monday – I was not feeling good about Chicago’s chances.

In Game Four, though, the Bulls certainly had their chances.  And had they prevailed –either before the game got to overtime or in overtime – the series would have been tied with two of the last three games in Chicago.  But the Heat dominated overtime and the series went back to Chicago with the Heat clearly in command.

Still, I had some hope on Thursday night.  Again, with the Bulls were up by 12 with three minutes to go, it looked like we were going to have a Game Six.  But Chicago collapsed and now I have gone from a chance to win to being only ahead of Henry’s Mom in this contest.

After the Heat advanced, Arturo Galletti sent me the Wins Produced numbers for the Heat in the playoffs.   As one can see, the Heat’s wins in the playoffs have almost entirely come from James, Wade, and Bosh.  After these three – of the players who played at least 20 minutes — only Miller and Jones has been above average (Haslem – who is probably still recovering from injury – hasn’t really helped).

One should note that Miller — on a per-minute basis – has been more productive than Bosh (and this is not entirely surprising given Miller’s career).  So adding Miller appears to have helped the Heat.  And consequently, ended my hopes of another TrueHoop Smackdown title.

Before we move on to the podcast, let me note the wisdom of Andres Alvarez.  Dre had the following to say about evaluating incorrect forecasts.

1.) Beware the narrative (at least when doing science). There is an element of luck and chance to this. Trying to overanalyze it too much may not work.

2.) Judge yourself based on what you did at the time, not how it turned out (as Dan Ariely has noted). When you made your pick the data supported your claim. You did not outsmart yourself because information you didn’t know or have come out after the fact.

3.) Sample size! We’ve had fewer than 40 title teams with the data to do proper analysis. Not only that, due to the short supply of tall people we’ve generally only had a few teams each year that can be a contender and they tend to stay the same. In this case I’d be careful about going to granular; and even more so, some of the trends may be coincidence as opposed to hard fast rules at this point.

Conclusion – Don’t overanalyze it :) 

Okay, enough on the TrueHoop Smackdown.  This is discussed on the podcast, but as one can see from the notes Mosi has assembled, we did discuss much more.

WoW Network Podcast: 5/27/11

Mosi and Dave — from the Wages of Wins Network — discussed the Mavs and Heat in the NBA Finals, whether Dirk Nowitzki is one of the 10-best players in NBA history, Scottie Pippen’s comparison of Michael Jordan and LeBron James and the impact unhappiness could have on the LA Lakers next season on the weekend podcast.

You can listen to the podcast one of several ways:

The Cast

The Synopsis

The podcast is an interesting, hour-long discussion that covers the topics outlined below.

  • The Mavericks-Heat rematch in the NBA Finals. Who ya got? The newest blog in the WoW Network, Shut Up and Jam, gave a few reasons to root for the Mavericks from the “Wins Produced” perspective.

Dirk Nowitzki, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

Mike Brown, Kobe Bryant, the Lakers and the Impact of Happiness on Productivity. NBA writers and analysts have questioned whether Brown is a good enough tactician to coach the Lakers, but his biggest job may be keeping the players happy.

  • Kobe said he would’ve been comfortable with assistant coach Brian Shaw,
  • Pau Gasol may or may not be happy playing with the husband of Vanessa Bryant,
  • Andrew Bynum seems like he won’t be happy unless he takes more shots.
  • Seems like some, if not all, of these players will be unhappy next season. How does unhappiness affect people’s productivity? Here’s some insight on that subject:

– Mosi and DJ