Fanservice: Win Probabilities for Every Scenario/Format in a Seven Game Series

I know, I know, you’re probably saying to yourself: another piece on seven game series and win probabilities, what’s wrong with this guy.

I’m well aware that this is my fifth piece on the subject(see here, here, here and here). I know I should be working on the rookie model and the next version of The Build. But see, I made a promise to one of my readers and here at Arturo’s Silly Little Stats we’re all about the fanservice.

Official Assistant GM of this blog, Devin Dignam of NBeh? caught an error on my part and I gave him a no-prize:

No Prize

His prize was to name his post and he came up with the following suggestions:

  • What is the relationship between college PAWS and NBA WP48? David Berri did some work on it but it was more general. Can you find any hard numbers on the subject? If we look at a specific player’s college PAWS, what is the likely progression for their NBA WP48 in year 1, year 2, year 3, etc?
  • Are there any statistical differences between left-handed and right-handed players? I’m left-handed, and left-handed issues always interest me. Based on my playing experience and my non-statistical theory, left-handers may be better at blocking shots because their dominant hand is on the same side as most shooters’ shooting hand. They also may be more likely to commit turnovers because their dominant dribbling hand is on the same side as defenders’ dominant hand (although I never notice this when I play, it’s just a logical offshoot of the blocking theory). As a consequence, there may be a greater proportion of left-handed forwards and centres (blockers) and a smaller proportion of left-handed guards (ball handlers). Of course entering all the handedness data may be tedious, so I found this list that could help.
  • Does the change in series format from 2-2-1-1-1 to 2-3-2 in the NBA finals influence the outcome? Not sure how to measure this. Maybe compare the number of upsets between the two? Of course the sample size of 2-3-2 series isn’t very large. I dunno. Given that the better team usually wins and that the better team may not have homecourt advantage…maybe there is no difference between the two.

See, this is why I’d hire Devin. Similar thought patterns. Number 1 sounds suspiciously like the rookie model doesn’t it? Number 2 is interesting but it sounds hard enough to be a longer term project. Number 3 however is ready to go today .

Now don’t worry the rest of this post is math free. I did the ridiculously long probability equation required for this during my lunch break and I won’t post it here.

(Image courtesy of xkcd.com)

Enough talk let’s start with the 2-2-1-1-1 format:

But it looks prettier as a graph:

What do we learn here? Home team winning in 5 (if the home team is better) or losing in six (if worse) seem to be the smart bets unless the teams are even in which case the bet is home team in 7.

And now the  2-3-2 format:

And of course the pretty chart:

What do we learn here? For the the 2-3-2 Home team winning in 6 and not 5 (if the home team is better) or losing in five not six (if worse) seem to be the smart bets unless the teams are even in which case the bet is home team in 7.

Now please keep in mind that this blog does not in any way shape or form promote the practice of gambling.

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20 Comments

  1. Chicago Tim
    9/22/2010
    Reply

    So it doesn’t really affect who wins, just how quickly they win? The 2-3-2 format seems fair, then, even if it may make a superior home team play a sixth game for the win.

    • 9/22/2010
      Reply

      Yeah, It just affects the length of the series and what the smart bet would be.

  2. Chicago Tim
    9/22/2010
    Reply

    So it doesn’t really affect who wins, just how quickly they win? The 2-3-2 format seems fair, then, even if it may make a superior home team play a sixth game for the win.

    • 9/22/2010
      Reply

      Yeah, It just affects the length of the series and what the smart bet would be.

  3. Chicago Tim
    9/22/2010
    Reply

    Arrgh! Bulls sign Brian Scalabrine. On your free agent chart, he should be paying the Bulls $1.96 million to play (or something like that — negative producer, in other words). But it is non-guaranteed, he’s the 13th man, and he can offer five fouls and teach the Thibodeau defense. Maybe he’s really an assistant coach. I would rather have Delonte West.

    And just to show that anyone can be an NBA exec, Chris Broussard tweets: “Sum execs baffled by CHI’s refusal 2 part with Noah 4 Melo.” Stay firm, Bulls!

    Question, though. How bad would a Melo for Deng and draft pick trade hurt the Bulls? I guess it depends on what money they promise Melo, and chances are it will be more than he is worth. I’m still hoping the whole thing falls through.

    • 9/22/2010
      Reply

      Tim,
      I wish dre’s podcast hadn’t gotten fried. I went on at length about Melo. I think he could be better on a team where his usage went down (kinda like the olympic team). So Melo for Deng straight up is actually ok given that the salaries are close.

      Scalabrine is just horrible.

      • Chicago Tim
        9/22/2010
        Reply

        If Melo would just give up on three pointers like Josh Smith, wouldn’t that make a big difference? He has a career percentage of .303 from three-point range and yet he shoots over 150 three pointers every year.

        • 9/22/2010
          Reply

          Actually, He about breaks even on threes (33% or above is the threshold and his number are .354,.371 and .316 for the last three years). He needs to shoot less, pass more and rebound.

  4. Chicago Tim
    9/22/2010
    Reply

    Arrgh! Bulls sign Brian Scalabrine. On your free agent chart, he should be paying the Bulls $1.96 million to play (or something like that — negative producer, in other words). But it is non-guaranteed, he’s the 13th man, and he can offer five fouls and teach the Thibodeau defense. Maybe he’s really an assistant coach. I would rather have Delonte West.

    And just to show that anyone can be an NBA exec, Chris Broussard tweets: “Sum execs baffled by CHI’s refusal 2 part with Noah 4 Melo.” Stay firm, Bulls!

    Question, though. How bad would a Melo for Deng and draft pick trade hurt the Bulls? I guess it depends on what money they promise Melo, and chances are it will be more than he is worth. I’m still hoping the whole thing falls through.

    • 9/22/2010
      Reply

      Tim,
      I wish dre’s podcast hadn’t gotten fried. I went on at length about Melo. I think he could be better on a team where his usage went down (kinda like the olympic team). So Melo for Deng straight up is actually ok given that the salaries are close.

      Scalabrine is just horrible.

      • Chicago Tim
        9/22/2010
        Reply

        If Melo would just give up on three pointers like Josh Smith, wouldn’t that make a big difference? He has a career percentage of .303 from three-point range and yet he shoots over 150 three pointers every year.

        • 9/22/2010
          Reply

          Actually, He about breaks even on threes (33% or above is the threshold and his number are .354,.371 and .316 for the last three years). He needs to shoot less, pass more and rebound.

  5. […] Loves the Celtics and the Thunder as currently configured. Chicago, Miami, Orlando, LA and Denver follow but based on these numbers Boston and OKC  should be favored in the playoffs then (without getting into a discussion on Home Court, but if you want to skip ahead….). […]

  6. […] Loves the Celtics and the Thunder as currently configured. Chicago, Miami, Orlando, LA and Denver follow but based on these numbers Boston and OKC  should be favored in the playoffs then (without getting into a discussion on Home Court, but if you want to skip ahead….). […]

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