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2013 Predictions: Summary and Playoffs

For Atlantic Division results and a brief discussion of methods, see here. For the Central Division see here. For the Southeast Division see here. For the Southwest Division see here. For the Pacific Division see here. For the Northwest division see here.

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In my final 2013 prediction post I am going to give conference rankings and try to predict the 2013 playoff results. Obviously these projections are highly speculative. All models are flawed and even if this one were perfect, injuries and trades are certain to disrupt the picture by next April. However, I do think the results shed light on how the league changed over the summer and how different teams should expect to fair in the coming season.

Before moving onto playoff predictions, let's look at the lottery teams:

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Dallas would be the #4 seed in the East, but out West they will be lucky just to make the playoffs. They are within striking distance of the Hornets, Clippers, and Wolves, but the Mavericks will need to outplay my expectations offensively to make it. Utah has an outside chance of making the playoffs as well, but it will require shipping out Big Al and getting a decent point guard in return. I don't see anyone else in the West competing for the 8th seed.

Thanks to the East's putridity, Cleveland, Chicago, Washington, and Philly all have a shot at stealing the 7th or 8th seed. Chicago is the only one that could actually do something with it though (assuming Rose could play in the postseason). Fans of the Pistons, Magic and Bobcats should already be focused on the draft.

Now that we have cleared away the bottom 14 teams in the league, let's see how my numbers have the playoffs shaking out. The brackets below have each conference ranked by their expected regular season differential. These are the same as those presented in my six preceding division rankings. In addition, I noted each team's predicted "playoff differential." This new value accounts for the fact that rotations condense in the playoffs. These condensed rotations increase the value of top-of-the-order studs and decrease the importance of a deep bench. In each round I move the team with the higher "playoff differential" forward. As you will see below, accounting for playoff rotations does lead to some interesting "upsets."

The stars indicate the summed total of stars (+1 SD player values) on each roster. A green bar indicates the team I expect to win in each round, while a red bar indicates the team I expect to lose.

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS:

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EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS:

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FINALS:

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That's right. The title goes to the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. The fuckin' LA Lakers.

Star players make a huge difference after adjusting for playoff rotations. LeBron and Dwight are the only true "superstars" in the league right now, and not surprisingly their teams see the biggest postseason bump. Those extra 5 minutes a game for LeBron, Howard, Wade, Bosh, Kobe, Nash, and Pau really shift the weights and move these two teams above the more well-balanced super-teams like San Antonio, Memphis, and Oklahoma City.

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