Can An NBA Team "Peak Too Soon" And Still Win The ‘Chip.

After watching Jon Barry and Michael Wilbon talking at halftime of the Nuggets/Lakers game about the Lakers “peaking too soon”, I decided to explore the subject.  This is by no means a comprehensive study, but it does shed light.  Jon Barry started with saying that the Lakers may be peaking too soon and Wilbon slightly disagreed.  Then JB started talking about teams he has been on that have gone into the playoffs hot and then lost in the first round, and then about other teams that have gone into the playoffs slumping, only to go deep into the postseason.  He stated this as if the two instances prove that a team doesn’t want to “peak too early”.
The adjacent table looks at the last 20 years of  NBA Finals’ teams and measures when they peak during the season; there are many ways to measure peak, but I used the team’s best record in a 20-game stretch during the season.  For example, the 2010 NBA Champion Lakers best 20-game period ended at game 34 of the season.  I don’t think the table unequivocally proves that there is an ideal time for a team to peak, but it does show that the average peak for a conference champion team is at 57 or 58 games.  Based on this limited data, I would conclude that it matters when a team peaks; but a more comprehensive study may be needed to prove it.  What do you think?
Advertisements