The Final Thirteen: Breaking Down The Home Stretch
Posted by Hayes Davenport on Mar 22, 2011
This post is about predicting the last 13 games for the Celtics and Bulls. But first, a quick confession: At the beginning of the season, before I started writing for this site, I voted in a CelticsHub poll. It was about how many games the Celtics would win this season. Thousands of people voted, mostly for “50-55 games,” with “less than 50″ being the least popular answer by far. Only about 16 votes for “less than 50,” I think.
I was one of those 16 votes.
I thought one of the stars would break down and the others would start to show their age, and I was not optimistic that Shaq or Jermaine would contribute much. But now the C’s have won 50 games and I was wrong. I’ve already bought one of these.
It’s hands-free, so I can self-flagellate at home, at work, or even while writing this blog post right now! Can’t go wrong with four hours on a single charge, guys.
Now that I’ve established credibility as a great predictor, let’s do that for the end of the season: as of right now, the C’s and Bulls have identical records and 13 games remaining. Both have six at home and seven away. The C’s have four SEGABABAs (woof), and the Bulls have three. Several of the opponents are the same.
Let’s start with the C’s docket:
3/23 – Memphis: C’s should probably win this one, because Les Grizz are slipping a bit and just found out Rudy Gay isn’t coming back this season.
3/25 – Charlotte: Should win.
3/27 – @Minnesota: Should absolutely win.
3/28 – @Indiana: Should win, but might be the least likely because it’s a SEGABABA away.
So there’s the potential to reel off a six-game win streak, which would be great. I’ll predict one loss out of those four, though. So we’re at 3-1.
3/31 – @San Antonio: Could win, because Duncan’s probably still out and Popovich is resting his dogs for the playoffs. So is Doc Rivers, though.
4/1 – @Atlanta: The Hawks obviously could give two dookies about seeding, playoff durability, or winning basketball games. It’s a road SEGABABA (the second of four), but I just don’t think this team looks very good right now. Call this a likely win.
4/3 – Detroit: Win, probably.
4/5 – Philadelphia: Odds are that this game is going to remind us why we’re after the one-seed in the first place.
I bet the C’s drop either San Antonio or Philly. Another 3-1 stretch to put the C’s at 6-2. On to the final five.
4/7 – @Chicago: Wouldn’t it be crazy if the C’s and Bulls still had the same record at this point? I sort of bet Shaq comes back for this game. Toss-up, I guess.
4/8 – Washington: Win.
4/10 – @Miami: Not fun. This is actually the game I have the least faith in the C’s winning.
4/11 – @Washington: Thank god for these mopes. The only caveat is that both Wiz games are SEGABABAs coming off very, very good teams.
4/13 – Knicks: This is probably going to be a lazier game for the C’s than for the Knicks. Still, it could easily decide playoff seeding for as many as four teams.
That’s an interesting series of games. A double-decker Wiz sandwich on competitive bread. Still, I bet the C’s only take 3 out of those 5. It’s too much too late in the season. So that puts them at 9-4 in my predicted universe.
BEST POSSIBLE RECORD WITHIN STATISTICAL REASON: 11-2
MOST LIKELY RECORD: 9-4
WORST POSSIBLE RECORD: 5-8
Now, let’s compare that to the Bulls’s stretch schedule.
3/22 – @Atlanta
3/25 – Memphis
3/26 – @Milwaukee
3/28 – Philadelphia
3/30 – @Minnesota
4/1 – @Detroit
4/2 – Toronto
4/5 – Phoenix
4/7 – Boston
4/8 – @Cleveland
4/10 – @Orlando
4/12 – @New York
4/13 – New Jersey
Removing the opponents the B’s share with the C’s (Atlanta, Memphis, Philly, Minnesota, Detroit, and New York), and this schedule strikes me as a little easier than what the C’s are dealing with. They’re essentially trading San Antonio and Miami for Phoenix and Orlando, and that’s, you know, a great deal for the Bulls. So, with strength of schedule in mind:
BEST POSSIBLE RECORD WITHIN STATISTICAL CREDIBILITY: 12-1
MOST LIKELY RECORD: 10-3
WORST POSSIBLE RECORD: 6-7
I think the Bulls will win the East by one game. Now, we ask for the n-thousandth time: is it worth it, with Celtics injuring each other and bleeding all over the place and turning 39 years old, to fight through a stretch run for a top seed that probability suggests they’re not going to get?