Heat-Bulls: The Biggest Turnaround Of The Past 30 Years

With the Game 5 win in Chicago, the Heat completed the biggest turnaround for an Eastern Conference Champion in at least 30 years; they have had the best regular season to playoff improvement against their CF and CSF opponents.  Their regular season record against their conference semifinals and conference finals opponents, the Celtics and Bulls, was a combined 1-6.  Winning in 5 gives them a .658 improvement in win percentage, from .142 to .800.  The table below ranks the improvements of the last 30 Eastern Conference Champions.

Table Notables:
Ten of these teams had losing regular season records against their CSF and CF opponents.
Five teams had worse records in the playoffs than the regular season.

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Playoff Sweeps: Some Are Worse Than Others.

What were the most competitive playoff sweeps of the last 20 years?  The table below displays them, as measured by average margin of victory.


Aside from the 1994 Bulls-Cavs series, an argument can be made that all these series were won because of the experience difference between the winning and losing team.  The talent gap between the winning and losing team was small, hence the close games, but the experience difference was astounding and allowed the winning team win every game of the series.  The 2000 Knicks-Raptors series was the most competitive.  That series was notable for a number of reasons; it marked the beginning of the end of the Knicks’ early to late 90s run, it was the last time the Knicks won a playoff game at the Garden, and it was the series that got Tracy McGrady his Orlando Magic max contract. 
Now we take a look at the least competitive playoff sweeps of the last 20 years as shown by the table below.


There seems to be no common rhyme or reason for these series, aside from the fact the Hawks and Heat combined to lose six of them and the Bulls seemed to have one every year of the championship run.  The Bulls did not play around with inferior teams in the first round; they knocked those teams out of their misery pretty quickly. Another notable is the Hawks playoff losses in 2009 and 2010; they were dominated by the Cavs and the Magic, respectively.  That stat and this year’s series against Orlando may speak volumes about the difference between Mike Woodson and Larry Drew.

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Game 7 In The NBA Playoffs: Home-Court Advantage Is Overstated. (Part 2 of 3)

As the NBA playoffs are upon us, we will hear dozens of clichés thrown around by commentators.  The most irritating cliché is that the home team wins Game 7 of the series most of the time.  Since 1991, the home team is 36-10, a .783 win percentage.  This stat is always brought up without being put into proper context; as if to say having Game 7 at home causes a team to win.  However, I’ve never heard a commentator mention that the team with home-court advantage has a better record and usually is the better team anyway.  One would expect them to win a Game 7 at home, or on the road.  In this article and subsequent articles, I will try to find out how many Game 7s were won by the home team mainly because they were at home. 
The table below tries to get the answer to the previous question.  The basic premise of the table is that the more road wins there are in a series, the less home-court advantage matters.  I separate Games 1-4 from Games 5-7 because the last three games of a series are probably more intense than the first four and home-court matters slightly, but still materially more in the last three games.  Since 1991, in Games 1-4 the road team wins 32% of the time while in Games 5-7 the road wins 25% of the time.  I rate, on a five point scale, the probability of the home team winning Game 7 mainly because they’re at home.  The five outcomes are: Yes, Probable, Possible, Doubtful, and No.  This is scale far from perfect, but it appears sufficient to answer the question posed in this article. 
Here are two examples of how the table works: The 1994 series between New York and Chicago produced no road wins, so it would be safe to say that the home team won Game 7 because of the home court advantage.  The 1994 Utah-Denver series produced two road wins, Utah winning that Game 7 was more likely due to them being a better team than due to home-court advantage.  The table below shows the 23 conference semifinals series that went to Game 7 in the last 20 post-seasons.

The home team won 17 of the 23 Game 7s, but how many of those 17 wins were mainly because of home-court advantage?  According to the table, only 11 of the 17 wins were at least probably due to home-court advantage alone.  That means that 6 of the 17 home-team wins probably had nothing to do with home-court advantage.  Home-court advantage in the Conference Semifinals’ Game 7s, appears to be overstated, as it did in the first round of the playoffs.  Part 1

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How To Beat The Miami Heat (Click Image to Enlarge)

Based on the table below and the Heat games I have seen, here’s how to beat the Heat:
When the Heat are offense it usually doesn’t matter who they’re playing; either they’re making their shots or not.  They shoot 49.8% in their wins vs 43.2% in their losses, and from three they shoot 40.8% in their wins and 30.2% in losses.  The opposing defense can affect the Heat offense by playing great team defense (the Celtics); play any other way on defense(relying on one or two good defenders) and you lose.
Ball movement is the key to an opposing offense beating the Heat defense; they have several good on-ball defenders.  In their losses, 62% of the opposing teams field goals are assisted compared to 55% in their wins.  If your teams plays an isolation offense revolving around one player, they no chance against the Heat D. 
Looking at these stats, there’s no wonder the Heat haven’t beaten the Bulls or Celtics this season.