Playoff Predictions and Odds (04/09/13)

By John Ewing

The regular season will end on Wednesday, April 17th and the playoffs will start on Saturday, April 20th. There are three spots remaining in the Western Conference while all of the playoff slots in the Eastern Conference have been claimed. Below we simulate the 2013 NBA Playoffs and look for value in future bets.

To begin the process we simulate the remainder of the NBA season 50,000 times. This produces the following playoff matchups. (Note: the Lakers are currently one game behind Utah for the 8th seed in the West. When we simulate the remainder of the season Utah finishes with 42.8 wins on average and Los Angeles finishes with 42.7 wins. This will be the first time that the Lakers have not made the playoffs since the 2004-05 season.)

Eastern Conference

1. Heat (60-16) Games remaining: 6 (4 Home, 2 Away), vs. +.500: 2, vs. East: 6

8. Bucks (37-39) Games remaining: 6 (1 Home, 5 Away), vs. +.500: 4, vs. East: 4

Regular Season Series (Heat lead 2-1)

Nov 21, 2012 Milwaukee 106, Miami 113

Dec 29, 2012 Miami 85, Milwaukee 104

Mar 15, 2013 Miami 107, Milwaukee 94

Apr 9, 2013 Milwaukee at Miami

2. New York (50-26) Games remaining: 6 (3 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 3, vs. East: 6

7. Boston (40-37) Games remaining: 5 (2 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 3, vs. East: 5

Regular Season Series (Knicks lead 3-1)

Jan 7, 2013 Boston 102, New York 96

Jan 24, 2013 New York 89, Boston 86

Mar 26, 2013 New York 100, Boston 85

Mar 31, 2013 Boston 89, New York 108

3. Indiana (48-29) Games remaining: 5 (3 Home, 2 Away), vs. +.500: 3, vs. East: 5

6. Atlanta (42-36) Games remaining: 4 (2 Home, 2 Away), vs. +.500: 1, vs. East: 4

Regular Season Series (Series tied 2-2)

Nov 7, 2012 Indiana 86, Atlanta 89

Dec 29, 2012 Indiana 100, Atlanta 109

Feb 5, 2013 Atlanta 103, Indiana 114

Mar 25, 2013 Atlanta 94, Indiana 100

4. Brooklyn (44-32) Games remaining: 6 (3 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 2, vs. East: 6

5. Chicago (42-34) Games remaining: 6 (3 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 2, vs. East: 6

Regular Season Series (Bulls lead 3-1)

Dec 15, 2012 Brooklyn 82, Chicago 83

Feb 1, 2013 Chicago 89, Brooklyn 93

Mar 2, 2013 Brooklyn 85, Chicago 96

Apr 4, 2013 Chicago 92, Brooklyn 90

Western Conference

1. San Antonio (57-20) Games remaining: 5 (2 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 3, vs. West: 5

8. Utah (41-37) Games remaining: 4 (2 Home, 2 Away), vs. +.500: 2, vs. West: 4

Regular Season Series (Spurs lead 2-1)

Nov 3, 2012 Utah 100, San Antonio 110

Dec 12, 2012 San Antonio 96, Utah 99

Mar 22, 2013 Utah 97, San Antonio 104

2. Oklahoma City (56-21) Games remaining: 5 (2 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 2, vs. West: 4

7. Houston (43-34) Games remaining: 5 (3 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 2, vs. West: 5

Regular Season Series (Thunder lead 2-1)

Nov 28, 2012 Houston 98, OKC 120

Dec 29, 2012 OKC 124, Houston 94

Feb 20, 2013 OKC 119, Houston 122

3. Denver (53-24) Games remaining: 5 (3 Home, 2 Away), vs. +.500: 1, vs. West: 4

6. Golden State (44-33) Games remaining: 5 (3 Home, 2 Away), vs. +.500: 3, vs. West: 5

Regular Season Series (Nuggets lead 3-1)

Nov 10, 2012 Denver 107, Golden State 101

Nov 23, 2012 Golden State 91, Denver 102

Nov 29, 2012 Denver 105, Golden State 106

Jan 12, 2013 Golden State 105, Denver 106

4. LA Clippers (51-26) Games remaining: 5 (2 Home, 3 Away), vs. +.500: 1, vs. West: 5

5. Memphis (52-25) Games remaining: 5 (3 Home, 2 Away), vs. +.500: 3, vs. West: 4

Regular Season Series (Clippers lead 2-1)

Oct 31, 2012 Memphis 92, Los Angeles 101

Jan 14, 2013 Los Angeles 99, Memphis 73

Mar 13, 2013 Memphis 96, Los Angeles 85

Apr 13, 2013 Los Angeles at Memphis

When we simulate the projected playoffs 50,000 times, our most likely winner is the Miami Heat. Miami wins the championship 53.5% of the time beating the Thunder in our most likely NBA Finals. Oklahoma City Thunder, the second most likely team to win it all, takes home the championship 19.2% in all simulated playoffs while the San Antonio Spurs are the third most likely championship team winning it all 16.1% of the time.

When we last ran our playoff simulation in late February the Thunder were our most likely champion winning it all 32.9% of the time, followed by the Heat (26.7%) and Spurs (23.4%). To put the Heat's chances of repeating in perspective last year before the playoffs began, the Heat had a 23.9% chance of winning which was only second to the Chicago Bulls 28.6% (prior to Derrick Rose injury).

Below are the odds for the Conference Semifinals, Conference Finals, NBA Finals, and Championship for all teams.

NBA Playoff Odds (based on 2013 NBA Playoffs played 50,000 times):

Region Seed Team Conf Semifinals Conf Finals NBA Finals Champ.
Eastern 1 Mia 97.1% 92.2% 77.1% 53.5%
Eastern 8 Mil 2.9% 1.1% 0.2% 0.0%
Eastern 4 Bkn 56.4% 4.4% 1.1% 0.1%
Eastern 5 Chi 43.6% 2.4% 0.6% 0.1%
Eastern 3 Ind 80.6% 50.7% 11.9% 4.4%
Eastern 6 Atl 19.4% 6.4% 0.5% 0.1%
Eastern 2 NY 78.2% 37.6% 8.3% 2.3%
Eastern 7 Bos 21.8% 5.3% 0.4% 0.0%
Region Seed Team Conf Semifinals Conf Finals NBA Finals Champ.
Western 1 SA 94.4% 68.2% 40.5% 16.1%
Western 8 Uta 5.6% 0.7% 0.1% 0.0%
Western 4 LAC 58.6% 20.4% 8.3% 2.6%
Western 5 Mem 41.4% 10.7% 3.1% 0.6%
Western 3 Den 63.7% 13.8% 3.2% 0.6%
Western 6 GS 36.3% 5.5% 0.8% 0.1%
Western 2 OKC 82.4% 71.4% 41.8% 19.2%
Western 7 Hou 17.6% 9.3% 2.2% 0.4%

To determine if a team has value, let's look at what their current odds are to win the NBA Championship and compare that to our projected odds that they win. For example, Denver is listed at 18/1 to win the title, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Nuggets they would need to win the tournament 5.3% (which is 1/(1+18)) of the time. We project the Nuggets to win it all 0.6% of the time giving no value to a bet at 18/1 odds.

Outside of the Nuggets, there is value in the Thunder at 9/2, Spurs 7/1, and Pacers 22/1. Below is a list with teams, the Vegas consensus odds to win the NBA Finals and projected odds needed in order to justify placing a wager.

Team Odds Odds Needed Projected Odds
Heat 5/7 58.4% 53.5%
Thunder 9/2 18.2% 19.2%
Spurs 7/1 12.5% 16.1%
Knicks 15/1 6.3% 2.3%
Nuggets 18/1 5.3% 0.6%
Clippers 20/1 4.8% 2.6%
Pacers 22/1 4.3% 4.4%
Lakers 30/1 3.2% 0.0%
Grizzlies 30/1 3.2% 0.6%
Bulls 45/1 2.2% 0.1%
Nets 50/1 1.9% 0.1%
Celtics 60/1 1.6% 0.0%
Rockets 75/1 1.3% 0.4%
Warriors 100/1 1.0% 0.1%
Hawks 125/1 0.8% 0.1%
Bucks 250/1 0.4% 0.0%
Jazz 250/1 0.4% 0.0%
Mavericks 500/1 0.2% 0.0%