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Home / Sports / Kevin Pelton's weekly mailbag, including the odds of winning Game 7

Kevin Pelton's weekly mailbag, including the odds of winning Game 7



This week's mailbag contains your questions on Profit 7, 3-point quality and more.

You can twitter your questions using the hashtag #peltonmailbag or e-mail peltonmailbag @ gmail


In a typical series, a home team is expected to play 7 in about 80 percent of the cases wins For historically that was the case. NBA teams are 102-26 in Game 7s, almost exactly an 80 percent win percentage.

So the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday should be the overwhelming favorite against the Indiana Pacers despite a gloomy first round series? Let's dig a little deeper.

The historic home advantage in Game 7 is a product of two things: the advantage offered by playing at home, as well as the fact that the higher seed with its own yard was probably better during the regular game season. In fact, despite the fact that the two teams split by definition the first six games of the series, the typical Game 7 host since 1984 had a point difference of 2.3 points per game during the regular season better than the visitor.

Subtracting From the average home win margin in Game 7s (8.6 points per game since 1984, when the playoffs were first extended to their current 16-team format), we have more than 6.3 points in Game 7 – more than double the typical home advantage during the regular season in the modern NBA, which has averaged three points per game since 2000.

As my former colleague Tom Haberstroh explored in 2015, home advantage in the NBA has declined. The margin this season (plus 2.1 points per game) was the lowest since the start of the season and has replaced the previous low for an entire season – an increase of 2.4 in 2014-15.

Of course, this trend has been transferred to the playoffs. Although the house court varies widely from postseason to postseason due to the lower number of games, the regression analysis suggests a decline of about one point per game in the home-field time from the mid-1980s to the present day – not quite as pronounced as in the regular game season but still remarkable.

With so few Game 7s, any change to the house edge would be more difficult to spot (because of the small sample size). In fact, the home teams have done even better in the past five postseason, with a plus 9.1 victory margin. So it's worth keeping in game 7 with the longer-term home advantage rating.

Let's return to the Cavaliers-Pacers series, which is unusual for a variety of reasons. At first, Indiana (plus-1.4) actually had the two teams' better point differential during the regular season, though Cleveland (plus-0.9) won two additional games to claim the court at home. Based on the results of the regular season and the historic home advantage in Game 7, we would give the Cavaliers a 70 percent chance of winning. Second, the Pacers come up with a 34-point win in Game 6 that gave them a plus-44 margin for the series.

In no other seven-game series since 1984 was the team with the lower games in the first six games so dominant. In series since 1984, where the team with lower team in the first six games surpassed the team with the highest team, the home team since 1984 is only 22-10 (.688). Four of the Six Teams with the Best Cumulative Margins to Six In that case, I would agree with you that 80 per cent of the Cavaliers' chances of winning Game 7 are certainly overestimated. The ESPN forecast panel gave Cleveland a 61 percent chance of winning, and that's where I would end up.

Interestingly, the Cavaliers go as 5.5-point favorites and with an implied 70 percent win chance based on the Moneyline in line with the regular season analysis above. But I suspect that at least some of these numbers are based on the respect that LeBron James gave in a game 7 rather than everything we've seen in this Cleveland series.


"After LeBron James went 15 out of 15 in free throws in Game 5, what is the percentage free throw of the lowest season to make all 15 or more tries in a game?"

– Stephen Boesch

It's just tricky enough to get 15 free throw attempts, let alone make them all. So Basketball-Reference.com shows only 121 players, both doing since 1963-64, with James joining this group earlier this week. Here are the players who did this during a season (or the one-season playoffs) with the lowest free throw percentages:

100% FTs at 15+ attempts in one game during the season, lowest season FT% [19659022] Player Season FT% Tim Duncan 2004-05 .670 Paul Silas 1970-71 .685 Charles Barkley Gregor Kelser 1983-84 .702 Michael Redd 2009-10 .712 Dave Bing 1968-69 .713 Frank Brickowski 1992-93 .728 LeBron James 2017-18 .731 Billy Cunningham 1970- 71 .734 Karl Malone 1992-93 .740

While the whole group of players has progressed perfectly t At least 15 free-throw attempts – including the players not listed above – are of course much higher. On average, for free throws (their weighted average is 83.9 percent during the season), it is possible to have such an accurate, high-volume night without a total to be a good free-throw shooter.


"How rare is that? There's only one round in the first round? A follow-up question: How about the single-sweep from the higher-placed team?"

– Wes Ivers

Since the first round, it has been a best-of-seven format, with an average of 1.6 sweeps per year, so only a single one is not uncommon, most recently in 2014. It has been in the last 16 years It has happened seven times without the sweeps of the first round being uncommon: the only time it happened was 2003, the first year after the change.

As for the second part of your question, a replay by a lower set team is quite rare, only twice in the first round. The Best of Seven Era: This Year's Pelicans and the Washington Wizards of 2015 which swept the higher saturated Toronto Raptors.


"There seems to be a lot of blowouts in the league and especially in the playoffs, so if I had to guess, I would say that the strong uptrend in metric-based offenses is based on efficient 3-point shots and layups Could this be related to the volatility of increased 3-point shooting? "

– Ian Stratton

That was last season, like But I was not so far off this season. There were only six games decided with 20 or more points, a relatively lower rate (14.0 percent of all games) than the typical postseason since 2003 (16.1 percent) The average advantage of the victory is 11.8 points per game, slightly lower than the average of the first round since 2003 (12.0).

If we look more generally, since 2003, profit margins and the percentage of matches ending in tire crashes have increased somewhat. I'm not sure how much of that is attributable to the 3-pointers – given that I discussed the Houston Rockets earlier this year, their impact on the consistency of a team is overstated compared to the league's growing stratification connecting stars


It seems natural that it would be because of diminishing returns, but the data is mixed. I looked at the quality of the shot from Second Spectrum's Quantified Shot Quality (QSQ) measurement, which shows the location and type of shot and nearby defenders for teams over the past five seasons compared to their 3-point attempts per 100 represents ownership – both relative to the league average for the season. Here's how it looks graphically.

Of course, last year's Houston Rockets are out of the charts here and are trying a lot more 3s per 100 possessions than the rest of the league. (The 2015-16 Rockets were a relative outlier in this regard.) Having maintained good shot quality on their high-volume 3s in 2014-15, Houston has some of the lowest-quality leagues in the last two seasons reached. (Although, as the chart shows, this year's Golden State Warriors actually had a slightly lower quality on their 3s at lower volume levels.)

More generally, the relationship between 3-point attempts and their quality exists but is not particularly strong. I think that's probably because here, in addition to decreasing returns, another effect comes into play. Teams with weaker offenses do not produce many 3 and do not receive high quality if they shoot them.


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