Not as fun as last year! Mathematically, 1% as fun.
The Playoff Simulations Robot rolled into ESPN.comtown yesterday on his steam-powered wheels and his bright brushed-copper chassis. But while last year I got the Celtics to win the championship on my first three tries, the data stored in the robot’s tabulating machine punchcards was not so favorable this time around. It took me a very long time to get this to happen:
And I cheated. I stacked the East with exclusively non-playoff teams. Notice that Boston edged the Bucks in the Conference Finals. It still took me a minute to pull off, because they were upset by the Wizards in the second round more than once. Like, several times. I sort of think of Celtics and Wizards as having an historic rivalry now.
After the jump, Boston’s probabilitous path to a title if the season ended today, according to this machine.
FIRST ROUND: Miami (19% chance of winning the series)
CONFERENCE SEMIS: Orlando (30%), Atlanta (47%)
CONFERENCE FINALS: Chicago (21%), Philadelphia (22%), Indiana (28%), New York (50%)
FINALS: Spurs (15%), I got bored with this (quickly)
So, if we take the most likely path through the playoffs, that gives the Celtics:
-A 19% chance of making the second round
-A 5.7% chance of making the Conference Finals
-A 1.2% chance of making the Finals
-About a one-in-a-thousand chance of winning the title
The odds change a little if you mix up the seedings, but it’s impossible to get a favored matchup between the Celtics and any of the East playoff teams, no matter how you organize them. Recall that at this time last year, this very robot said the Celtics had about a 10-12% chance of winning the title. So: a hundred times more likely than this year.
A couple interesting things:
-The Celtics have slightly better odds against the Bulls than the Heat.
-The Celtics are only one-percent larger underdogs against the Sixers than they are against the Bulls.
-The machine gives the Thunder a 61% edge over the Heat in the Finals with homecourt, but the Bulls are 63% favorites over the Thunder with homecourt.
-I ran this thing probably 30-40 times using the current standings, and not once did I get a team other than the Bulls, Heat, Thunder, or Spurs to win the Finals.