In what seems like an annual exercise, the stats-driven website 538 tosses a bunch of NBA advanced metrics into a blender, and what comes out makes little or no sense.
Last year’s predictions were comically bad; at one point, the Cavs had the 4th best chance in the East to reach the NBA Finals! They went 12-1 in the Eastern Conference playoffs to get to the Finals.
And here we are again, taking a bunch of regular season numbers and trying to guesstimate what will happen in the Conference Finals. According to 538, the Rockets have a 79 percent chance to beat the Warriors.
Houston has homecourt!
Houston has the presumptive MVP!
Houston was a historically great offense this year!
Yes, the Rockets were a regular season juggernaut, winning 65 games. Meanwhile, the Warriors, in their quest to get to the Finals for a 4th straight year, took their foot off the gas early and often, and had injuries to all four of their stars. Stephen Curry missed 31 games. Kevin Durant missed 14. Draymond Green missed 12. Klay Thompson missed 9.
The stats have tunnel vision when it comes to the NBA because they don’t understand the the regular season doesn’t matter, and players don’t try nearly as hard. The stats say the Rockets have a 79% chance to beat the Warriors, but, the Cavs only have a 60 percent chance to beat the Celtics.
My conference finals picks: Warriors in 5, Celtics in 7. Yes, I’m prepared to be wrong about both of them. Before the playoffs I had Warriors in 6, and Cavs in 7 (over Philly).