NBA Playoffs: The Champion as seen by the data

With the NBA playoffs right around the corner we crunched the numbers in order to give you the 2016-17 champion today!  Of course we are joking since numbers do not play basketball but we simulated the 2016-17 playoffs and we obtained the championship probabilities for each of the 16 teams in the playoffs. We used the Basketball Prediction Matchup model to estimate the win probabilities for each matchup.  We then simulated the playoffs 100,000 times and we obtained the championship probabilities for each team as presented in the following table:

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I think the biggest surprise to some is the high title probability for Houston. The reason BPM gives Rockets an equal probability of winning with the Warriors has to do with the fact that both team “score” very well at the features of our model.  Both teams are efficient in scoring and Houston is also good at drawing free throws per field goal attempt. They are also better at offensive rebounding rate – which is another important factor for the model.  In fact, the latter is the main reason Celtics are projected with only a 4% chance of winning the title (they are 24th overall).  Of course, as I said numbers do not play basketball but it seems that the basketball style of Rockets and Warriors is the one for the future. However, I would certainly not sleep on the Spurs or the defending champions. One thing is for sure; it is going to be an exciting postseason!

The above table presents the probabilities before the beginning of the playoffs.  The following table will always have the updated probabilities taking into account the games that have been already played:

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