Will they, or won't they? (03/03/16)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Will they, or won't they? Odds to make or miss the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

With just over a month to go in the regular season, we look at the teams on the NBA Playoff bubble. Utilizing our Playoff Probabilities, we look for value in the each fringe team to make or miss the playoffs.

To determine if a team has value we look at what their current odds are to make the NBA Playoffs and compare that to our projected odds to reach the postseason. For example, Detroit is listed at -240 to make the playoffs, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Pistons they would need to reach the postseason 70.6% (which is 240/(100+240)) of the time. We project Detroit to reach the playoffs 62.5% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at -240 odds.

Utah Jazz
Will Make Playoffs: -110
Implied Chance: 52.4%
Projected Chance: 68.1%

The Jazz are currently on the outside looking in. Utah is four games under .500 and 1.5 games behind Houston for the 8th seed in the West thanks in part to a four game losing streak. It has been a rough week for Utah but there is reason to be hopeful. The Jazz are 10th in our Power Rankings and top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Injuries have been a problem all year but this team is finally getting healthy. With more than 20 games to play there is plenty of time for Utah to right the ship and sail into the playoffs.

Chicago Bulls
Will Make Playoffs: -130
Implied Chance: 56.5%
Projected Chance: 61.1%

It has been all downhill in the Windy City since the New Year. When the calendar flipped the Bulls held the 4th seed in the East. Now Chicago has lost four in a row and nine of their last 12 games. Like with the Jazz, injuries have played a key role in the downturn. Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic have missed significant time. Despite all that has gone wrong, the Bulls are still just half a game out of the final playoff spot in the East. With a little injury luck and some better play, what looks like an embarrassing season can end in a playoff run.

Additional teams with value to make the playoffs: Charlotte Bobcats and Dallas Mavericks.

Houston Rockets
Will Miss Playoffs: +240
Implied Chance: 29.4%
Projected Chance: 51.7%

Scoring has never been an issue in Houston. James Harden is second in the Association in points per game (28.7), but like the runner-up in last year's MVP race, defense is not the team's strong suit. The Rockets are a below-average team that rank 25th in defensive efficiency allowing the fifth most points per game, just ahead of the eight-win 76ers. Houston is the only team currently in the playoffs that we project to miss.

Additional teams with value to miss the playoffs: Detroit Pistons

2016 NBA Playoff Odds

Team Make Playoffs Miss Playoffs Playoff Probability
Charlotte Bobcats -600 +400 87.9%
Chicago Bulls -130 Even 61.1%
Dallas Mavericks -600 +400 87.3%
Detroit Pistons -240 +200 62.5%
Houston Rockets -300 +240 48.3%
Utah Jazz -110 -110 68.1%
Washington Wizards +400 -600 16.7%