The Suns vs Lakers series was fascinating from the beginning. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers were the pre-playoff favorite out of the Western conference as the 7 seed.
When Suns veteran Chris Paul got hurt and couldn’t play in game 2, it seemed all but assured the Lakers would advance. Now, Paul has returned, and Anthony Davis didn’t play in game 5 due to a groin injury.
In an NBA playoff series with no injuries, the spread usually swings back and forth based on home court. For example, the Knicks have been about a 1.5 point favorite at home but a 4.5 point underdog at Atlanta.
There is no regularity in this series. Let’s go through the games.
- Game 1. Suns -2.5. Both teams were healthy, so this might be the best pure estimate of team strength given the Suns home court. (Suns win by 9)
- Game 2. Lakers -2. Suns didn’t have Chris Paul and were down 1-0 heading into this game. (Lakers win by 7)
- Game 3. Lakers -6.5. The Lakers had home court in game 3, but Chris Paul came back. (Lakers win by 14)
- Game 4. Lakers -6.5. Anthony Davis gets hurt during the game. (Suns win by 8)
- Game 5. Suns -4.5. Lakers didn’t have Anthony Davis on Suns home court (Suns win by 30)
- Game 6. Lakers -2. Morning of the game on Thursday.
The spread has stumbled around more than Ernest Hemingway after hitting the bars in Cuba.
In my last correspondence, I argued that home court should be 3 points. While the markets have confirmed this in the Denver vs Portland and Atlanta vs New York series, it has been more complicated in the Suns vs Lakers series.
The difference in the markets between Game 1 versus Game 3 was 9 points, which should be twice home advantage. This implies a whopping 4.5 points for home advantage. Note that the injury to Chris Paul might have impacted the spread in Game 3; Paul played but not at full strength.
Based on the spread in Game 1 and 3, the Lakers are 2 points better than the Suns on a neutral court. I have code that translates this edge into a series win probability. With a 3-2 lead, the Suns have a 69% series win probability. This is a good estimate with a healthy Anthony Davis.
If Anthony Davis can’t play, we can estimate team strength by taking the difference in spreads between Game 5 and 6. This implies the Suns are better by 1 point. Anthony Davis is worth 3 points, and his absence raises the series win probability of the Suns to 79%.
FanDuel has the Suns at -290 to win the series, which implies a break even probability of 74%. This seems reasonable given the uncertainty around the health of Davis.
Data driven betting information
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