NBA Finals – It’s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

The NBA finals start tonight, with the Lakers playing in Boston. I’d love to see the Celtics win it all (especially for Pierce and KG), but I have a feeling that as the best player around right now, Kobe is going to go nuts and carry the Lakers forward. And despite statistical evidence to the contrary, I’ll say Lakers in 6.

The stats are from me playing around with R again, which I used to use a lot at UC Berkeley. Essentially I took the teams’ won/loss records at home and on the road this season and ran a bunch of finals simulations. The records incorporate the playoffs up to this point, so Boston has a home record of 45-7 so far this year. LA has a home record of 38-11. Meanwhile, on the road, Boston has a record of 33-17 (that’s after a stellar 31-10 during the regular season) while LA has a record of 31-16. Using those home/road splits, the simulation plays out a 10,000 7-game series and has the most likely result being a Boston win in 6 games. The most likely win for the Lakers, though, also occurs in 6 games.

Of course, the Lakers team improved dramatically after they traded for Pau Gasol at the start of February 2008, so maybe their record in the Post-Gasol era should be considered. That brings them to 21-4 at home and 18-7 on the road. Now the simulation predicts a slightly tighter series, with Boston expected to win in 7 games. In terms of an LA victory, the Lakers seem to win in 5 games just as often as they win in 6 now.

Essentially, home-court advantage is the difference maker there. Despite the Celtics playoff road woes (which they partially shook against Detroit), the 4 home games gives them a nice cushion.

My thoughts were that the Lakers would take on game in Boston, then take 2 of 3 at home, and Kobe would finish things off in game 6 in Boston.

Funnily enough, the simulation picked the Lakers in 5 over the Spurs by a hair (Lakers in 7 followed, and then Spurs in 6 were the next most likely hypothetical results), which was precisely how the series ended.

Anyways, enough talk – I normally root for Batman, but here’s to hoping that Joker’s are wild: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRztEpUXBEc

Update: Celtics won game 1 quite nicely! Kobe never really seemed to get into the flow of things, especially in the 4th quarter where he was somehow held silent. I’ll stick with the Lakers in 6, but now I’m hoping my gut was right and that the Celtics win it all.

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