2017 NBA Finals Series win probability

I strongly like Golden State to win the NBA Finals over Cleveland. Let me back that up with some numbers.

My best NBA projections use rankings that incorporate both scores of games and closing point spreads from the markets. These ensemble rankings rate Golden State 5.3 points better than Cleveland on a neutral court.

I then calculate a series win probability by considering this rating differential and a home court advantage of 4.5 points. This implies a 86.3% win probability for Golden State.

It’s worth breaking down some of the components of these ensemble rankings.

By team rankings that consider all games, Golden State rates 7.1 points better than Cleveland on a neutral court. However, this is a misleading number as teams rest their star players and deal with injuries.

I adjust for these player absences by only considering games in which a team has its top 2 or 3 players. These filtered team rankings make Golden State 4.0 points better than Cleveland, which corresponds to a 80.5% win probability.

I like this number since it closely corresponds with another set of my calculations.

In my market rankings, I take closing lines and adjusting for opposition with my ranking algorithm. The playoffs markets have been distorted by injuries, so I use data from the trade deadline in February until the end of the regular season.

These market rankings make Golden State 4.6 points better than Cleveland on a neutral court. This corresponds to a 83.5% series win probability for the Warriors.

Each of these components gives a win probability for Golden State higher than the 73% implied by the markets (Golden State -270 on Wednesday at Bookmaker). The markets feel like Cleveland and LeBron James can outplay their year long numbers more than Golden State.

I don’t buy it, and it comes down to defense.

In points allowed per possession, Cleveland ranked 21st this season, a poor showing for a championship caliber team. This group is capable of better, as they ranked 10th last season.

However, their defense isn’t nearly as good as that of Golden State, which ranked 2nd this season after 5th last season. It will make the difference in this series, which could be much shorter than anyone expects.

NBA series win probability for the 2017 conference finals

These numbers are based on team rankings that consider game results and markets.

San Antonio vs Golden State

Golden State has a 70.4 percent chance of winning the series.

While I’m posting this with the Warriors up 2-0, this win probability comes from numbers before the start of the series.

Cleveland vs Boston

Boston has a 45.1 percent chance of winning the series.

Boston has home court but is not favored to win the series. My rankings put them 1.3 points worse than Cleveland on a neutral court. Note that this still implies Boston as a favorite on their home court.

202 words that perfectly summarize ESPN in 2017

Right around the time the ink dried on a $15.2 billion deal to broadcast the NFL, subscribers began fleeing cable television in droves — not because of anything the Worldwide Leader did wrong, but because of secular changes in the way broadcast and video works. Phones, Twitter, and YouTube began instantaneously delivering highlights and entire games to fans, obviating the need for anyone to watch SportsCenter, or any other news shows, to catch up on what happened in sports, or even, in some cases, to watch live games. Terrestrial ad revenue never migrated online, and the revenue to be found there was largely eaten up by Facebook and Google, leaving little to pay those new ESPN.com reporters.

ESPN is still wildly profitable — the operating income of Disney’s media networks (of which ESPN plays the largest role) was $1.36 billion in the 2016 fourth quarter — but it’s less profitable than it used to be, and projects to be far less so in the future. With its latest cuts, ESPN isn’t just trying to stanch the bleeding and/or to be seen by investors as attempting to do so: They’re also laying out what the network will look like over the next five years and beyond.

Deadspin’s Kevin Draper wrote these words after ESPN laid off 100 employees, and they capture the essence of the problems at the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

While I’ve been following the ESPN story since the layoffs, I got re-interested again when I saw Jason Whitlock’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal. He suggested these layoffs represent a victory of Deadspin over ESPN, part of the “politics hurt ESPN” narrative.

As much as I like Deadspin, both as a reader and contributor, the editorial is awful. There’s no data to back up that ESPN’s left leaning politics has hurt the network.

The truth of ESPN is in those 202 words of Draper.

Fantastic read on Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors

ESPN had a great feature that dug into the 2016-17 season of the Golden State Warriors. Highlights include:

  • How Draymond Green was the lead in recruiting Kevin Durant as a free agent, not Steph Curry.
  • How the shoe companies affect the dynamic of the Warriors.
  • How owner Joe Lacob is an unappreciative prick about Curry’s astonishing development.

To check out Ethan Sherwood Strauss’s profile, click here. I can even forgive how he misrepresent Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary of the United States and broadway inspiration.

Unfortunately, Strauss was among those employees laid off by ESPN recently. Hopefully, this doesn’t imply fewer profiles like this.

NBA playoffs series probabilities for 2017, first two rounds

These predictions combine my team rankings based on margin of victory in games with data from the markets.

These are series win probabilities for the second round of the 2017 NBA playoffs. The Boston prediction contains data from Game 1 against Washington on Sunday, April 30th, although it doesn’t consider that Boston won that game.

Utah vs Golden State.
Golden State has a 85.0 percent chance of winning the series.

Houston vs San Antonio.
San Antonio has a 66.9 percent chance of winning the series.

Washington vs Boston.
Boston has a 62.3 percent chance of winning the series.

Toronto vs Cleveland.
Cleveland has a 60.6 percent chance of winning the series.

These series probabilities for the first round of the 2017 playoffs were posted prior to the start of the playoffs.

Portland vs Golden State.
Golden State has a 95.7 percent chance of winning the series.

Utah vs Los Angeles Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers has a 55.3 percent chance of winning the series.

Oklahoma City vs Houston.
Houston has a 77.6 percent chance of winning the series.

Memphis vs San Antonio.
San Antonio has a 83.6 percent chance of winning the series.

Indiana vs Cleveland.
Cleveland has a 70.5 percent chance of winning the series.

Milwaukee vs Toronto.
Toronto has a 65.8 percent chance of winning the series.

Atlanta vs Washington.
Washington has a 66.0 percent chance of winning the series.

Chicago vs Boston.
Boston has a 79.9 percent chance of winning the series.