On their way to last season’s NBA championship, the Los Angeles Lakers dominated their competition. They rolled through the Western Conference playoffs with a 12-3 record, ousting each conference foe in five games en route to the NBA Finals. Looking back with this macro view, it seems like it was an easy road toward Los Angeles’ 17th championship, but we know that was not the case.
The Lakers lost the first game in the first two series they played, and the takes flowed after each loss. But betting is not about hot takes. It is about making observations, turning those into educated hypotheses as to why an event went the way it did and then acting on those in hopes that they will play out the way the data tells us it should. Even though we have only two series with multiple games played, bettors learned valuable lessons Monday about not overreacting to a result, and many opportunities to learn even more are coming.
When Miami lost to Milwaukee in overtime of Game 1, many believed the loss was a positive for the Heat. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo had combined to go 8-for-37 for only 26 points, and the Bucks needed overtime to beat them. Surely the two stars would perform better, and Miami would win Game 2. However, that simplistic analysis is flawed. It ignored the fact Milwaukee won despite shooting 16.1% from deep and dominated at the rim by going 22 of 29 within 4 feet against a rim defense that ranked 17th during the season and 26th in the second half.