Thursday, April 1, 2010
Introducing the Playoff Predictor
By John Hollinger
We have a new tool to share today, the ESPN NBA Playoff Predictor -- it allows you to replay the playoffs again and again. You can set the pairings however you want and see all the potential outcomes.
You can look at the current standings or use the Hollinger Playoff Odds to set the postseason matchups. There is also an AccuScore Rankings option and a Custom Rankings option, in which you set the seedings yourself.
Better yet, you can replay it as many times as you like: I have visions of Henry Abbott doing this 674 times until it spits out Portland as the champion.
The tool is a collaboration between ESPN.com and AccuScore, and I should emphasize that it uses AccuScore’s secret sauce to predict the winners, not anything in the Hollinger Power Rankings. Their simulator has some similarities, but also a few important differences -- in particular, it seems to rate teams with strong late-game performances much higher than my data does, so that Dallas and the Lakers have far better outcomes here than in, say, the Playoff Odds tool.
Nonetheless, it can be instructive on several levels. Most notably, you’ll see quickly how wide open the West is -- all four underdogs have at least a 20 percent shot of advancing, and the very first time I ran this I had Denver hosting Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals despite neither team having home-court advantage in the first round.
You can also conjure up some goofy brackets if you get the urge. For instance, I placed New Jersey, New York, Washington and Indiana in the bottom half of the Eastern playoff bracket. When the app showed the Cavs and Knicks in the conference finals, it gave Cleveland a 93 percent chance of winning (probably too low, actually, unless LeBron is heading to New York right away).
According to the folks at AccuScore, Cleveland has the best odds of winning the championship (using the current standings mode). But even so, they’re just over 37 percent to win it all, with L.A., Orlando, Dallas, Utah and Phoenix, in order, being the next most likely suspects.
The AccuScore ratings update every day, so each morning you can load in new playoff possibilities and see where they lead you. Enjoy.