When sports historians look back at the 2012-2013 season, they may just say that the season turned on a big game from Mo Williams. Stop laughing, I'm being completely serious. Mo Williams' 25 points against Golden State on April 7, 2013, may just sneakily be the most important individual effort of the season. For the one person who had that honor going to Mo Williams, you may now collect on your 1000/1 odds.
Why does Mo Williams even deserve a mention? Because Utah's 97-90 win over the Warriors now makes them the favorites for the West's eight seed.
With tonight an off night on the NBA schedule, we decided to take a look at how the playoff race is currently shaping up. When we last looked at the odds on Thursday, the Lakers held solid 61 percent odds, with the Jazz and Mavericks taking up the caboose. Now, with Dallas only holding 0.7 percent odds at the playoffs, we turn our attention primarily to the Utah and L.A. squads.
How Many Will Each Team Win?
The Utah Jazz finish the season with only four more games: vs. Oklahoma City, vs. Minnesota, at Minnesota, and at Memphis. On the surface, 2-2 would seem like the most likely finishing spot. However, Minnesota's defense is sneaky efficient, with their 105.4 points allowed per 100 possessions sitting No. 13 in the NBA. While 2-2 is still the most likely outcome, that Minnesota D makes finishing 1-3 more likely than finishing 3-1 for Utah.
The Lake Show finishes with five more games: vs. New Orleans, at Portland, vs. Golden State, vs. San Antonio, and vs. Houston. The key to the Lakers down the stretch will be those contests against Golden State and Houston. According to our nERD Rankings, which measures each individual team in terms of their overall efficiency, the Lakers are the No. 10 team in the NBA. The Warriors aren't too far behind at No. 12, and the Rockets sit just ahead at No. 9.
So how many games should these two teams be expected to win? For Utah, two is indeed the magic number, while three wins pulls in the best odds for the Lakers.
|Projected Wins||Utah Jazz Odds||Los Angeles Lakers Odds|
Remember that the Jazz hold half a game on the Lakers right now, and to add insult to injury, the Jazz hold the season-series two to one. So that means the Lakers need to win two more games than Utah to get the eight seed.
As you can see on our team rankings page, that lead gives the Jazz the best playoff odds of any team still fighting for the eight seed. While the Lakers still hold a solid chance since they actually are the more efficient team and all that, the two win differential needed may just be too large to overcome.
|Los Angeles Lakers||42.3%|
Quick Note: The numbers don't add up to 100 percent because the Rockets and Warriors do hold a mathematical chance at missing the playoffs. However, at 99.7 percent and 99.6 percent odds, respectively, we wouldn't bet on it.