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NBA lineup combos predict winners

Don't look to the box scores to figure out who'll win NBA playoff games. As Peter Keating shows in his Stats and Analytics blog, the secret is all in plus/minus figures for the best -- and worst -- lineup combinations.

Updated: May 6, 2010, 3:57 PM ET
By Peter Keating

The world (and ABC) may be ready for a Cavs-Lakers NBA Finals, but Kobe Bryant versus LeBron James may have to wait. The numbers say we should watch out for Orlando, Boston and even the winner of the Phoenix-San Antonio series.

Cleveland has the best player on the planet, and Hollywood has a lineup of All-Stars. But even the best athletes in basketball can't play 48 minutes a game, so how a team mixes and matches everyone else is extremely important. Some coaches are so good at lineup construction that they can effectively neutralize an opponent's overall talent advantage. Others, to put it politely, aren't. And the difference is really showing up in this season's playoffs.

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