Playoff Predictions: The Playoff Betting Game

Playoff predictions shouldn’t be binary. If you see a series as being close, and you’re wrong in your prediction of which team will win, is that really a result of faulty analysis? You can’t prove your analysis was incorrect or not, unless the series was a blowout. More accurately, I see these predictions as being probabilistic. There are so many variables in a tangled, unsolvable form that the games can be essentially random, or at least the statistical noise is so large that evenly matched teams will have “randomly determiend” games. Note that this is just a postulate, but I think it fits into conventional wisdom. Some match-ups are so close people say something along the lines of, “It could go either way,” or “I could see someone arguing for them.”

With that said, I think a better playoff prediction game would be to factor in certainty, like a form of gambling. You can say I’m unsure of this series, so I’m not betting any points on it. Or you can say this team has no chance; I’m betting everything on it. The strategy moves to measuring certainty.

You are given 10 points for each first round series, which doubles to 15 in the second round, then 20 in the next, and 25 in the finals. Points are awarded when you choose a series correctly, taken away for an incorrect prediction, and you can basically say “draw” and bet zero points.

So here are my bets for the first round:

Eastern Conference

(1) Chicago and (8) Indiana

10 to Chicago. No contest, even though the first game was close.

(2) Miami and (7) Philadelphia

I just don’t see Miami losing in this one. While Philly has been playing well, the middle-class of the eastern conference is fairly weak; this isn’t like Mavs-Blazers or Spurs-Grizzlies. If Miami loses, it will be a spectacular, nearly unprecedented choke-job.

10 to Miami.

(3) Boston and (6) New York

Although I don’t care for New York’s game, Boston hasn’t been playing well, and when they have it was when Shaq was healthy. Consequently, I can see New York winning. Kinda. Sorta.

9 to Boston.

(4) Orlando and (5) Atlanta

I’ll be honest in only using my judgment before today’s game where Atlanta stole a game while Howard had 31 at halftime. I think Atlanta matches up well, but they’ve been playing horrible for a 4 seed. Collins and Pachulia can handle Dwight like few center combos can. However, all this defensive clout the Hawks use affects them on the offensive end. Collins is a liability on offense, and can’t even rebound like Brook Lopez. Dwight Howard has no help. The second best player is arguably either Nelson or Ryan Anderson. Ryan Anderson? I don’t see certainty in Orlando.

7 to Orlando.

Western Conference

(1) San Antonio and (8) Memphis

I think the Spurs played possum and/or got bored in the last third of the season; I could see Popovich doing that. Memphis’ size is a bit worrying, but the Spurs have depth and enough to defend Randolph with McDyess, Splitter and some spells of Duncan. Having given it more thought, I have more faith in the Spurs, but I think it’s reasonably possible Memphis steals the series.

7 to San Antonio.

(2) Los Angeles and (7) New Orleans

With David West’s injury, Chris Paul’s reduced level of play and his team’s lack of size, I don’t see how New Orleans could win a seven game series. It seems highly unlikely.

10 to Los Angeles.

(3) Dallas and (6) Portland

As I said in the previous post, this is essentially a toss-up. My inherent bias also makes this prediction difficult.

0 (draw)

(4) Oklahoma City and (5) Denver

I’m seeing this as another very evenly matched series, but the home-court advantage gives a slight edge to the Thunder.

1 to Oklahoma City.

I can say with certainty that since I’m the only one playing this game, I have a high probability of winning.

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