Best playoff paths for East's elite

Updated: April 3, 2013, 9:06 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

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.