Saturday, May 12, 2012

Round Two: Eastern Conference

There's already an insane amount of predictions on the internet for the NBA playoff, so I'll keep this short. People think the Heat were given a path with no resistance to the finals, but the Pacers and Celtics aren't bad teams. Besides, the Heat easily got past the Bulls last year; what they need to do is perform in

(2) Miami Heat versus (3) Indiana Pacers

The Pacers don't inspire fear, but they're a better team than they seem and when their best players are on the court they're pretty darn good. Their starting lineup is +15 per 48 minutes, while the Heat's starting lineup is just +9.7. However, those numbers are unadjusted +/-, and as such there are many problems associated. Using an adjusted flavor, the average +/- for the starting lineups for the Pacers and Heat is +2.06 and 2.82, respectively. And it's not like the Pacers have a better bench even compared to the Heat. LeBron didn't play huge minutes versus the Knicks, and I expect their big three to crush any possibility of extending the series.

Prediction: Heat in 5
Random prediction: Hibbert with a 20-20 game.

(8) Philadelphia 76ers versus (4) Boston Celtics

This will be an ugly series. Both teams are great defensively and below average offensively, and given how playoff games have a slower pace than the regular season I expect the final scores to be in the lower 80's. It's like instead of an unstoppable force versus an immovable object it's an immovable object versus an immovable object. But don't focus on the points per game. Instead focus on Garnett's defense, Rondo's passing, Iguodala's dunking and perimeter hawking, Avery Bradley's on-ball pressure, Ray Allen's shooting and Spencer Hawes' strange transformation into a useful basketball player. For me it's a toss-up if the series'll go five or seven games; tweaking the numbers just a little is enough the change the results. I think Boston has the match-up advantage because Boston's guards can control Philly's guards, and Garnett has been playing well enough lately that he'll make Hawes and Brand's lives very hard.

Prediction: Celtics in 5.
Random prediction: Iguodala will have a dunk on Garnett that reminds everyone of how old the Celtic is.

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