2014 Playoff Contest: Round 1 entries

Over 250 participants can’t be wrong…can they? In graphical form, here is a summary of all of the entries for the 2014 edition of the Boxscore Geeks / Wages of Wins Playoff Prediction Contest.

Eastern Conference

Indiana Pacers (#1) vs Atlanta Hawks (#8)

2014pacers-hawks

Sure, the Pacers haven't looked good since the All-Star break, but the Hawks aren't exactly championship material. Only 8 entries have the Hawks pulling off the 1v8 upset, with Pacers in 5 being the most popular option. After the Hawks won Game 1 relatively convincingly in Indiana, the Pacers will have to win four consecutive games to pull that off; if we go by Game 1, the Pacers will be lucky if they manage to win this series at all.

Miami Heat (#2) vs Charlotte Bobcats (#7)

2014heat-bobcats

Not a single entry has the Bobcats beating the Heat. The only question seems to be whether it will take 4 games (39% of voters) or 5 games (52%). With the Heat taking Game 1 handily, and Al Jefferson's injury, it isn't looking good for Charlotte.

Toronto Raptors (#3) vs Brooklyn Nets (#6)

2014raptors-nets

Ah, now this is more like it. In last year's contest, there were a couple of series where our entrants were almost evenly split, and they had a huge impact on the leaderboard. This year's Raptors-Nets series looks like it will be one of those series. Very few entrants have either team winning in four or five games. The most popular option is Nets in 6 (34%), followed by Raptors in 7 (25%). It looks like everyone got a good look at Arturo's Playoff Primer, because he had the same results.

Chicago Bulls (#4) vs Washington Wizards (#5)

2014bulls-wizards

It might seem crazy to say this, but whichever team wins this series could have a very good chance at making the Eastern Conference Finals. The winner of this series gets to face the Pacers-Hawks winner, and neither of those teams appear to be difficult matchups. While this a excellent news for the Bulls, the Wizards still have their work cut out for them. The Bulls have been one of the best teams in the league since they traded away Luol Deng. While many pundits don't seem to know this (I'm looking at you, Shaq, Chuck, and Simmons), our participants do; 92% of them have Chicago winning the series, with 5 games (38%) being the most popular option. But with Washington winning Game 1, that means that the Bulls have to win four consecutive games to make this prediction come true.

Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs (#1) vs Dallas Mavericks (#8)

2014spurs-mavericks

The Spurs had an amazing regular season, and accordingly, only one person picked the Mavericks to beat them in this series. The Spurs won Game 1, so the 42% of entrants who picked a Spurs sweep are still in good shape.

Oklahoma City Thunder (#2) vs Memphis Grizzlies (#7)

2014thunder-grizzlies

After several major early-season injuries, the Grizzlies managed to turn their season around quite nicely. They're facing another team that has had its own share of major early-season injuries: the Thunder. Westbrook and Sefolosha look healthy again, but unfortunately for OKC, so does Kendrick Perkins. Still, even with Scotty Brooks' Perkyfish obsession, 90% of our participants still think that the Thunder will prevail. 

Los Angeles Clippers (#3) vs Golden State Warriors (#6)

2014clippers-warriors

Last year, when the Warriors upset the Nuggets, they ruined a ton of entries. This year – right before the playoffs started – their top centre suffered a fractured rib, and their starting power forward has had some nerve issues in the weeks leading up to the playoffs. Unsurprisingly, not many of our participants think they are goin to win the series: 90% picked the Clippers to win. Even still, the Warriors pulled out the win in Game 1. 

Houston Rockets (#4) vs Portland Trail Blazers (#5)

2014rockets-trailblazers

The 4-5 matchup is typically a series between two relatively evenly-matched teams, but the Blazers have had some serious regression since their hot start. On the other side of the matchup, the Rockets have been solid throughout the season. Makes sense then that 87% of the entries have the Rockets winning – but the most popular option is 6 games (35%). The Rockets have been known to stay up late, and Portland won Game 1 in OT.

 

Reminder: once Round 1 is finished, not only will we have a form for Round 2, but we’ll be posting the first-round leaders. Keep checking back!

Some thoughts/questions:

1) I'm surprised more people didn't pick Portland, as Houston did not look great down the stretch.

2) When is the last year Dwight Howard won a playoff series?

3) I'm surprised more people didn't pick Memphis.

4) A friend of mine observed that Tom Thibodeau teams overachieve during the regular season and thus we should not be surprised if/when they disappoint in the playoffs.

5) What hypotheses exist that explain the Pacers' late season collapse? This is not a simple case of regression to the mean here.
Two theory's on the pacers.

BBallBreakdown has pointed out that Paul George's shooting percentage has dropped - possibly due to a change in assist to shot ratio and follow through form.

My theory is NBA refs have change how they evaluate verticality for Roy Hibert and this has lowered his rim protection and general defense.
It appears that the Pacers offense is just not executing as sharply as they were in the beginning of the season and it comes down to a lot of factors. Check out Mike Prada's explanation:

http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/4/2/5569908/indiana-pacers-offense-struggles-paul-george
I like all of the data on the results. I'm not a fan of using a different axis for each chart though. It kind of gives an appearance of data that can be compared chart to chart when it shouldn't be. ~230 people picking the Bulls to lose is displayed similar to ~95 people picking the Heat to win in six games. Sorry for being that guy.
*Wizards to lose, not Bulls
*and Heat in five games, yikes I have no reason to be complaining about other people's errors
How do we check our entries?
^ What Dodgson said. I suspect that that's Google's problem, not BSG's.
zgobst ,

The images are ripped straight out of the Google form summary, and the reason for going with that over making better graphs is that I don't feel like it :)

Dodgson,

What is it you were looking for? I'm going to update the standings periodically, once we start getting results.
DevinDignam,

I just wanted to check what I selected, I already forgot my win total selections and didn't copy them down since the form seemed to indicate I could come back and check them here.
Dodgson,

That another Google thing. You can go back and look at (and change) your responses as long as the form is open, but once I close it you can't. If you want to record your picks I can send them to you here in the comments or via email.
Devin,

Thanks for the response. I'll just record it next round.
@Robbie
Your comments are looking spot on in retrospect.

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