Saturday, April 25, 2009

Well just in case ...

... You've been in a cave, the NFL Draft is today. Mock drafts are stupid, so I'm not linking to one. The Bears need a WR, let's hope something goes right because Chicago has had a rough few days:

Thursday: The Bulls got destroyed by the Celtics.

Sox lost 6-2 to the Orioles.

Friday: Sox got shelled 14-0 by the Jays.

Plus, I haven't had a Streak higher than 1 in about a week!


Well this sort of looks kinda like it might be OK for the Bulls (except that last part)
Since our sample size of first-round best-of-seven series is limited, I expanded the lens to take in best-of-seven series from any round in the past 15 years, giving us 20 cases to look at in which the road team outscored the opponent while splitting the first two games. And after adding those in, we see immediately that scoring margin is important.

The road teams that were ahead in point differential after two games went on to win the series 11 of 20 times, and in only two of the 20 cases were they eliminated before Game 7; in both of those cases, they were playing against Michael Jordan.

So good news, Rockets fans: Based on NBA history, there's about a 90 percent chance that, at worst, your team will be playing a seventh game in Portland, and there's a better-than-even chance that Houston will win the series.

As for the other four teams, the news isn't encouraging. Teams that trailed in point differential after two games went on to win the series just 10 times in 28 tries, or a little better than one in three. Even teams with a very small negative scoring margin lost a disproportionate number of times.

So, as we sit here today after just two games, odds are that we'll have two lower-seeded teams advancing to the second round. The percentages say that Houston will likely be one of those teams, and informed speculation suggests that Dallas or Chicago will be the other. (My apologies to Sixers and Heat fans, but I'm just not feeling it just yet.)

But wait, we're just getting started. All of these odds will shift dramatically once the final whistle blows in Game 3. In fact, the winner of Game 3 takes the series 75.8 percent of the time after the two sides split the opening pair of games. And of course, the five teams that started on the road will all have home-court advantage for this pivotal contest.

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