As the NBA’s regular season draws to a close tonight, many believe the Miami Heat are the overwhelming favourites to win their second straight NBA title. However, a close look at the numbers suggests the team to beat is the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Below is a look at how the NBA’s potential playoff teams rank according to Sports-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS). SRS looks at each team’s margin of victory and factors in strength of schedule. An SRS of 0.0 would be an average team.
What we see is that six of the seven best teams in the NBA are in the Western Conference. As a result, The Thunder beating their opponents by 9.4 points per game is far more impressive than the Heat beating their opponents by an average of 7.9 points. And in fact, the Heat’s resume is only marginally more impressive than the Spurs or the Clippers.
On the other hand, the Heat would appear to have an easier path to the NBA finals as the four worst teams in the playoffs reside in the Eastern Conference (conference seeding as of today in parentheses)…
Data via Basketball-Reference.com
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