Chicago Bulls and Why Stats Don't Mean Anything When It Comes to Winning

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Chicago Bulls and Why Stats Don't Mean Anything When It Comes to Winning
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There are people out there who think statistics are everything, and use them to prove what the outcome will be in the playoffs based on those same stats. I'm here to prove those people wrong. 

Stats are nice to look at, and they can be used as a basis for arguments, but when the final outcome is decided, what happened in the regular season is not a reliable predictor of what will happen in the postseason. 

For me personally, I'm sick of being slammed for giving my "opinion," like that's a dirty word. My opinion is based on a deep knowledge of the game of basketball. It involves years of watching and going to games, and talking to people involved in those games in recent years. 

Like everyone else, I look at stats, but I think their value does not supersede what I like to call the "eye test." Those knowledgeable about the game know what I'm talking about. For those less so, they like to use those same "stats" to prove how smart they are. 

For fans of the Chicago Bulls, I often read how statistics prove they can beat the Miami Heat this year, and therefore, I assume, win the NBA title. 

I want that to happen, but I know that stats have a tendency to lie and not predict the future accurately. Just because a team has success in the regular season doesn't mean they'll have that same success in the playoffs.

Using "stats" to prove my case, I'm going to go back to the 1999-2000 NBA season all the way to the present. I'm using that because it's the first season after the strike-shortened season after the Bulls' last championship.

Since that year, the team with the best record in the NBA has won the championship exactly three times. I'm not a math wizard like some, but I believe that comes out to 25 percent. Two have lost in the semis and seven in the conference finals.

Other than the winners, not one of those teams made the NBA finals. One, the 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks, actually lost in the first round, which is almost unheard of.

Let's look at a strength of the Bulls—team defense. Since 1999-2000, only three teams that ranked No. 1 in fewest points allowed won the title. One of those teams, the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons, tied for first in that category.

Several of the teams that ended up winning the championship were far down in that category.

Of course, the way a team plays could affect points allowed. A team that plays a fast break type of game is not as likely to lead the league in that category as a team that slows things down and uses most of the clock.

Again, that proves my point that season statistics don't really matter as much in the playoffs. There are other factors that eventually determine who wins the championship. 

How about if I do a favorite of those who love statistics—point differential?

Using the same time frame, only four of the 12 teams that led the league in this important statistical category went on to win the championship. 

Again, using my limited mathematical skills, I believe that comes out to 33 percent, give a decimal point or two. 

So in three categories that some would say portend the future, the statistical likelihood of the Bulls winning is minimal based on those numbers.

That doesn't mean they won't win the championship this year, but it also doesn't mean they will.

The games are played on the court and the competition is tougher in the playoffs. You're not normally playing back-to-back games, and you're playing the same opponent in a seven-game series.

Therefore, you have to make adjustments. It's like a chess match. Your opponent makes a move and you counter.

Matchups are also a factor. Some teams are better matchups than others.

There is no statistical analysis for that.

Health, coaching and even luck all factor in. You want to get hot at the right time. That happened last year to the Dallas Mavericks, who were a statistical anomaly. They were seventh last year in point differential and tied for ninth in team defense.

The Bulls may be at the top of the leaderboard in many statistical categories, but it doesn't mean they will be getting fitted for rings this year.

It all plays out on the court, and no statistics can prove what will happen in the playoffs.

I'm sorry to break everyone's heart who thought stats are king.

It looks like I just proved otherwise.  

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