A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘playoffs

Should there be an 8th/9th seed play-in game?

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Last season the MLB added an extra playoff “spot” with 2 wild cards having a play-in game, instead of 1 wild-card automatically getting in.

The motive for this is easy to see. Aside from increasing the revenue for the teams who get an extra spot and by putting 2 huge television games on the schedule – it also keeps more teams alive late in the season, helping fans keep interest longer in the year.

Should the same logic apply to the NBA? Instead of the 8th seed getting in automatically, make them play the 9th seed in a 1 game play-in. The winner gets the 8th seed as it is now, entering a full series against the 1st seed.

Here’s the benefits:

– The 8th seed play-in game is beneficial for revenues. The 4 teams involved in it get an extra high priced playoff game. Television ratings are likely strong as event TV.

– 2 extra “playoff” spots increases interest late in the season for more teams. For example right now Milwaukee is 8th in the East at 34-36. Following them is Philadelphia at 28-43, Toronto at 26-45, Washington at 26-45. Instead of Philadelphia and Toronto’s season being over for months, they’d be wrapped up in an exciting playoff race right now. Washington’s great play with John Wall would have put them back in the race. This teams being thrown in the race would be great for sales and ratings. Moreso, franchises build reputations to fans by making the playoffs or coming close, as well as build winning cultures on rosters that way.

– This creates a race not only between 8th and 9th – but between 7th and 8th. For example last year New York and Philadelphia finished 7th and 8th in the East separated by one game, while Dallas and Utah finished with the same record at 7th and 8th in the West. Make the 8th seed mean a 1 game playoff instead of a guaranteed spot and that race would have been a lot more intense.

– If an 8th seed is likely to be beat badly by the 1st seed every year, giving them a carrot by winning a big play-in game helps add a little more meaning to that season. Would Baltimore’s season last year in the MLB have as felt as special without the play-in win?

An 8th/9th seed play-in game is good for revenues, good for building the credibility of franchises and good for the fans. It seems an all-around win, as it is for the MLB. After the MLB got the ball rolling, similarly adding a play-in game may be impossible to resist for the NBA and NHL.

Written by jr.

March 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Basketball

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2011 Player of the Year – Final

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The Player of the Year Watch has gone on all season long. Here we have the Final ranking.

Player (last rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1A)

This is an easy choice for me. When it comes to literally lifting a team, Dirk has been the personification of this all year long. With the way LeBron came on against Chicago, I thought he was going to make me toss that aside but it didn’t happen.

I’ll admit that I actually thought that Wade was the MVP of the Finals over Dirk, but over the course of the entire season, nobody contributed value like Dirk.

2. Dwight Howard (3)

My regular season MVP got knocked off his perch down to the 3rd spot after the Conference Finals. However he floats back up a spot after LeBron’s weak Finals play. I’m always hesitant to let someone who has already been eliminated rise in my rankings, particularly when they were eliminated in an upset in the first round, however I can’t find real fault in Howard’s playoff performance, and what happened in the Finals did sway my opinion on LeBron’s season.

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Lebron’s Game 5: To play well, but not the right kind of well

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LeBron James in New York City to discuss the f...

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The vultures are swirling around LeBron James after Game 5, yet another quiet performance for the self appointed King. Not all the hate is deserved. Lebron by most standards had an effective game as shown by his 17 point, 10 rebound and 10 assist statline. He aggresively went after rebounds, looked to score inside, and shredded the Mavericks defense with passes – particularly in the first half of the 4th.

Yes, Lebron played effectively. But it wasn’t the right kind of effective.

The truth is, taking a Finals game on the road is not just about playing well. It’s about gaining a mental edge over the home team. It’s about controlling the game. And this is Lebron’s great failure in these playoffs so far. Read the rest of this entry »

The Miami Heat’s success: A basketball triumph or travesty?

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Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, 2008

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Recently I heard a topic come up of what the Miami Heat winning the title would mean for basketball. On one hand, it’d be a sign that success in the NBA truly comes down to just having superstars – and it’d light a match to the gasoline of other stars leaving teams to team up. In an ideal world, it’d be teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls who triumph – ones that play a 5 as 1 game, where the defenders and rebounding role players mean as much as the superstars.

But I’m not so sure. Read the rest of this entry »

How they got here: The Memphis Grizzlies’ defensive culture change

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Memphis Grizzlies logo

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So, the Memphis Grizzlies are now a good basketball team. There’s a handful of reasons why. They have great frontcourt talent with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and good perimeter players in Mike Conley, Jr., O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Tony Allen and Shane Battier. But their success is really built on elite defense and making the unselfish play offensively. The Grizzlies team culture is in the right place. They play the right way.

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How the Thunder looked the 09 Blazers in the eye and said “We’re not you”

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Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunders at ...

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The Oklahoma City Thunder won 55 games this year, grabbing a division title and home court advantage for the first time in the Kevin Durant era. Two years ago Portland won 54 games and also grabbed home court in the first round for the first time in the Brandon Roy era. But, Oklahoma City came out flat with the pressure against a more experienced Denver team and fell 13 points back by the early 2nd quarter of their Game 1. Portland similarly came out flat against Houston and stood 14 pts back by the early 2nd quarter of their first game.

Yet this is where the similarities end for the two games. Oklahoma City ended up cutting the deposit to 1 by halftime on the way to a hard fought 2nd half and 4 pt win, Portland went the other direction and fell down 18 by halftime, losing by 27 when all was said and done. Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Playoff Preview – The Biggest Questions

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Twas the night before the playoffs and all through the house, not a soul was stirring, not even Eddie House…

Rajon Rondo, the 21st pick of the Boston Celtics

Is Rajon Rondo the playoffs biggest X-factor?

Matt won’t be back till next week, so you’re stuck with me for A Substitute for War’s lack of playoff preview wisdom:

First, here are my opening round predictions:

East: Chicago over Indiana in 5, Miami over Philadelphia in 6, Boston over New York in 6, Orlando over Atlanta in 5.

West: San Antonio over Memphis in 5, LA over New Orleans in 5, Portland over Dallas in 6, Oklahoma City over Denver in 5.

Since that’s over, instead of spending a couple thousand words telling you why Chicago is better than Indiana or LA is better than New Orleans, I’ll spend some time dissecting the favorites and what they need to prove to win the title:

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March Madness as a Playoff System

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I’ve previously analyzed the playoff systems of the 4 major professional sports leagues in the US, looking at fairness, which I’ve defined as follows:

Ideal fairness means that we get rid of the unevenness of the regular season schedule without adding too much randomness.  If you’ve got a variety of divisions or conferences that hardly play against each other, the idea that you can have a single champion without a playoff tournament of some sort is absurd – but of course playoffs in some sense always mean throwing out a larger sample size for a smaller one, which never entirely good.

We’re in March Madness season so it’s worth considering college basketball’s playoff system, arguably the most successful in terms of financial gains relative to regular season. This happens to be a particularly good season to consider this because all of the favorites are gone. Every team left has at least 8 losses, which either indicates a stunning amount of parity, or a ridiculous amount of luck.

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