Bulls-Pistons: Another Bull Run
Thus far my system for evaluating the NBA Playoff matchups has worked pretty well, with two exceptions... that can be explained.
The first is the Jazz-Rockets series, where the numbers told me it would be the Jazz in 6. That hasn't worked out exactly, although the numbers have held as I thought they would. The discrepancy is due to the fact that the series has taken on a Yankees-Pirates in 1960 dimension that I could not have foreseen. In other words, the two Jazz victories at home have been blowouts, while the three Rocket victories at home have been close games. Thus the numbers have held perfectly, but the outcomes have skewed toward the Rockets.
The second is the Warriors-Mavericks series, where the numbers told me it would be the Warriors, but common sense, and historical precedent, told me it just had to be the Mavericks. So I went against the numbers and took the Mavs in 7. The numbers have thus far won out, though there is still some basketball left to be played.
I went into this analysis thinking it would end up in a coin-flip. By the overall numbers, these were the two best teams by far in the Eastern Conference this season.
But when I looked at the head-to-head numbers, it was not that close at all. In fact, the numbers skew as heavily toward Chicago as they did toward each of these two teams in their first round series, both of which ended in sweeps.
This didn't make sense to me. I figured there must have been some games missed by key Pistons. Indeed there was. So I broke each Piston and each Bull performance down individually. The results were the same.
There are five Bulls players among the top 50 most productive Eastern Conference performers against the Pistons this season: Andres Nocioni (in 1 game of extended action), Tyrus Thomas (in 4 games of limited action), PJ Brown (in 4 games of extended action), Luol Deng (in 4 games of extended action), and Ben Gordon (in 4 games of extended action).
Meanwhile, there is only one Piston among the top 50 most productive Eastern Conference performers against the Bulls this season: and that is the long lost Nazr Mohammed (in 2 games of limited action). The only other Piston who has even been decent against the Bulls this season has been Chris Webber (Eff48 of 23.24). The rest of the Pistons formidable cast has been extremely subpar against Chicago.
Prediction: Bulls in 6
Even with all that, I cannot disrespect the cast of characters that make up the Pistons. They have proven their championship mettle. I think on heart alone they will take two games from Chicago. That said, I cannot go against the compelling case made by the numbers, and I have to predict another big series win for Chicago. Thus, I'm saying its the Bulls in 6.