In addition to our ongoing series preview, we have posted a few from a our friends at The Basketball Jones and ESPN. There are obviously a ton of others out there. As you may have guessed, I have not seen nary a one that thinks the Pacers will beat the Bulls. I’m don’t think I’ve even seen anyone who expects there to be a Game 6.
Everyone at CBS likes the Bulls, not to mention all the favorites in the East’s first round. Zach Lowe at SI foresees a Bulls sweep. (He added this on Twitter.) Kurt Helin of NBC agrees. And Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer expects the same, adding that “Chicago finished the season with the NBA’s best record, and the Pacers are one of the worst playoff teams in NBA history.” Dennis Scott, Greg Anthony and Rick Kamla of the NBA TV crew don’t expect much from Indiana. (Regardless, this last link takes you to a worth-watching, 10-minute video that includes Danny’s comments on preferring to play Chicago, some thoughts from Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and other good tidbits.) Matt HMcHale of the Bulls TrueHoop Network blog By The Horns gives Indy no chance.
Over at Basketball-Reference, they aren’t offering any qualitative assessments that have to do with intangibles like Derrick Rose’s majestic MVP-ness or Tom Thibodeau’s ability to remind me of Biff Tannen. No, they’re just giving us the straight numbers, homie.
Unfortunately, these offer even less solace to Pacers fans.
Based on full-season stats, they say the Bulls have a 94.6% chance to win the series. In “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” news, however, the Pacers do have a 0.3% probability of sweeping the Bulls. This means that if these two squads were to play 334 seven-game series, Indiana would almost certainly sweep Chicago one time. Probably. So there’s that.
“But,” a hypothetical Pacers fan might say, “it’s not really fair to look at full season numbers when the Pacers obviously played much better after the appointment of mid-season replacement coach Frank Vogel, under whom they went 20-18.” OK. Fine.
More bad news here though.
As Tim expertly showed this morning, the Pacers stretch of increased winning under Vogel coincided with an absolute, league-wide reckoning that the Bulls delivered. So if we just look at the post-trade deadline stats to get a more accurate picture of where the teams are right now as opposed to including numbers from, say, December, things look even bleaker.
Based on these figures, the Pacers only have 0.7% chance to win the series. And according to most of the smart people I know who write about the NBA, even that’s generous.
While we’re showing Basketball-Reference’s numbers, here are their team and player advanced stats as well. Again, not a lot of reasons for Pacers fans to get excited about any of this either. (These are screen shots so the links aren’t clickable. Head to BBall-Ref’s site to explore further. If you’re anything like me, you’ll follow the wormhole deep enough that you’ll be checking out Travis Best’s turnover rate from 1997-98 within 30 minutes. FYI, it was 17.1.)