Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do you think there is a home court advantage?

To give you an idea on how much punters rank home court advantage in this NBA final, check out the latest odds on Game 3.

As of 1 p.m., Boston--the team leading 2-0 remember--nets you 5.7 in straight play--meaning that you would win $57 on a $10 bet. If you want to play the handicap you would lay 9.5 points on the Lakers.

I'm not sure I'd take the odds, which says something about the NBA and the idiotic 2-3-2 system in the finals. It's 2008. You can fly from Boston to L.A. pretty easy. There is no reason not to go back to the more logical 2-2-1-1-1.


Dennis Prouse said...

Some time back, there was a debate on this blog regarding whether or not pro sports leagues had a responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint somewhat with reduced travel. (It was probably that commie Sager. :-) ) The NHL's unbalanced, Division heavy schedule was actually a step in that direction - it was stated that NHL teams were saving somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2 million a year with the reduction in travel. Of course, once fans were given more of the rivalry games they said they wanted, they changed their minds and said they wanted more variety.

I don't mind the 2-3-2, especially when you are talking about a coast to coast flight. One possible solution is to give the higher finishing team the choice of what they want. I'll guarantee everyone will still take Game 7 at home.

sager said...

With 2-2-1-1 format, the Lakers would cross the United States six times, including the flight home after a Game 7 in Boston.

Duane's point is a solid one. It would seem cheap if the Lakers sweep three straight at home and then close it out in Game 6 back in Boston. Of course, it was sometwhat cheap that the Celtics shot 28 more free throws in Game 2 (although if the Lakers had been getting to the rim instead of settling for jumpers, maybe it would have evened out).

(Now How come everyone thinks I'm far left or far right, when I'm really very moderate?)

Dennis Prouse said...

I was just razzing you, Neate. You have to understand that as a knuckle dragging right winger, everyone looks like a lefty to me.

I don't see how the 2-3-2 disadvantages Boston here. They still have full control of this series. All they have to do is win one out of three in LA, and they go home with two chances to close it out. Even if they get swept, they still go home needing to win only one game in order to get to game seven, again at home. I plead guilty to not knowing what the numbers are like in the NBA, but in hockey the home team wins slightly more than two-thirds of Game 7s. Given the fact that the Lakers would almost certainly need seven games to pull this one out now, the fact that Game 7 is in Boston is a huge advantage for the Celtics. That's why you play the regular season -- to have Game 7 at home if you need it. The order of the rest of the games, to me, is somewhat irrelevant.

sager said...

Hey D, I should have put a "mock indignation" disclaimer on that comment ... and you're no knuckle-dragger!

Good question about NBA Game 7s ... I would guesstimate that the percentage of home teams that win is higher than the NHL, just because of the way basketball is refereed, plus there's an adjustment for shooters when you go into the other guy's gym.

Rob Pettapiece said...

Not sure about hockey, but Basketball-Reference has the home team winning 22 out of 31 times in a Game 7 since the 1995 playoffs. Not a lot of games, but if the teams were evenly matched, you would expect it to be that lopsided (or more lopsided, like 25-6) just 1.5% of the time.

Of course, Boston isn't evenly matched with any other team, so the degree to which NBA teams really benefit with Game 7 at home depends on the home team's odds of beating a lower seed on any given day. Assuming the home side wins 70% of the time (not unreasonable: the Celtics won 80% of their games this season), then that lopsided record is far more likely--54.2%, for those of you scoring at home.

So this probably reduces to "the better team hosts Game 7, so they're expected to win anyway, and your math doesn't tell us anything" but hey, sometimes it's nice to bring out the binomial distributions on a fine June evening.