Just like in the NCAA tournament, seeding matters in the NBA playoffs -- not only because of home-court advantage, but also because of the key differences between different paths to the NBA Finals. In particular, matchups are crucial in the NBA's best-of-seven format.
My research has found head-to-head record during the regular season to be a statistically significant predictor of series outcomes, along with overall ability. Using these factors, and home-court advantage, we can estimate a team's chances of winning any series -- and how much its likelihood of reaching different rounds changes depending on the teams it faces.
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