The Last Playoff Ranking

Posted on August 2, 2011 by


Arturo Galletti is the Co-editor and Director of Analytics for the Wages   of Wins Network. He is an Electrical Engineer with General Electric in the   lovely isle of Puerto Rico, where he keeps his production lines running by day and night (and weekends) and works on sport analysis with his free time.

Butch Cassidy: They’ll never follow us.
Sundance Kid: How do you know?
Butch Cassidy: Would you jump if you didn’t have to?
Sundance Kid: I have to and I’m not gonna.

-Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid

The playoffs were great and I wrote the heck out of them.

The lockout is not (although I have written about it as well).

My muse is left then looking at the long summer ahead and is officially in mourning.

But like Butch and Sundance, I will not go gently into that good night. Let’s have one last go at what where some fantastic playoffs.

Fantastic can depend on your point of view

And it starts with the simple premise that while we know clearly who’s number #1, number 2 to 16 are a little murkier.

We can fix that.

The Last Playoff Ranking:

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I did numbers and stats in pretty much real time for every team and every game of the 2010-2011 NBA playoffs (see here for some illustrations of that). This allows me to do some really fun stuff with those numbers.

In this particular case, I was able to do The Last Playoff Ranking. The method is easy. The playoff are a round robin tournament. This allows me to work out the average adjusted point margin every team but the Mavs lost by.

The ranking was done using the actual point margin for every game in the playoffs and adjusting for Home court advantage (which is worth about 3.2 points for the home team).  I tabulated every game average out by point margin for every series. Using some simple math I then traced every playoff loser through their vanquisher to the ultimate victor.

Let’s take the Magic for example:

  • The Magic outscored the Hawks by an average adjusted margin of 1.8 (Seriously)
  • The Hawks were outscored by the Bulls by an average adjusted margin of 7.0
  • The Bulls were outscored by the Heat by an average adjusted margin of 2.8
  • The Heat were outscored by the Mavs by an average adjusted margin of 2.3

Magic (-10.3) = 1.8 (Hawks) – 7.0 (Bulls) – 2.8 (Heat) – 2.3 (Mavs)

In our round robin system this makes the Magic 10.3 points worse than the Mavericks.

Let have some quick notes.

  • By the rankings the Heat, Thunder, Bulls and Blazers were in the top five.
  • The Blazers were very,very,very unlucky with their draw (Editor Dre’s Note: Thanks for the validation Arturo).
  • The Magic were also unlucky to lose to a terrible Hawks team but you could argue they dug their own grave.
  • The Pacers played better than the defending champs.
  • The Hornets made the incredible Chris Paul a tragic figure.
  • The Mavs were clearly the class of the field.

But we knew that already. Let’s get you some more goodies.

Ranking the Playoff Games for 2010-2011:

By these numbers, Dallas had the best average adjusted margin (+5.6) and the best overall game (the +32.7 scored in their close out game over the Lakers).  It’s is clear from the numbers that they were the best team. (Editor Dre’s Note: At least for the 2011 Playoffs)

That may have not been the only clue.