The NBA's Season-End Races Are Complete Duds
Whatever happened to excitement on the final day of the season? At this point, the most likely drama we're likely to see over the final three days of the regular season is whether Chris Copeland can drop 30 despite being the most undersized center since Magic.
The Scoring Race
Even just one week ago, we gave Durant as much as a 40 percent chance of winning the scoring title based on a season-long simulation model. About two weeks ago, he had a 70 percent chance. And now?
Let's just say KD better be content with the West's No. 1 seed, because a fourth straight scoring title is not in the cards.
Currently ahead 28.7 PPG to Durant's 28.1 PPG, Carmelo Anthony has surged late to take an almost insurmountable lead with three days left in the season. I guess his 25 points against the Pacers and Indiana's No. 1 defensive rating didn't hurt him too badly, because no matter how you look at it, Melo holds about 90 percent odds of holding onto the title.
Using a season-long model, which takes into account the highs and lows of both players throughout the entire season, Melo holds a 89.2 percent chance at the scoring title. If we weight the past month's performance higher, however, Melo's odds jumps all the way up to a 92.8 percent chance of winning.
Of course, it wouldn't be sports without complications to our data. This time, the issue comes with rest: Melo may not play New York's final two games in preparation for the playoffs. Durant's Thunder play the defensively atrocious Kings and the average Bucks to end the season, but Durant would still need to average 49.5 points over those two games if Melo's average stays the same.
The West 8-Seed Race
This time last week, the Jazz were flying high after knocking off the Warriors and grabbing a 57.6 percent chance at the final playoff spot. Since then, however, the franchise has shed more tears than Kobe at his post-Warriors press conference (never too soon).
With the Lakers' win over the Spurs yesterday, the team has now won four straight games. You may remember that last week, we gave them a 24.7 percent chance at winning four of their last five games and only a 6.2 percent chance at taking all five. With a win over Houston on Wednesday, though, they will have overcome the odds and controlled their own destiny.
However, it may not even matter how well the Lakers play against Houston after tonight. The Jazz play the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road in the Great White North, and if they lose, it's over. Finished. Kaput. Goodbye now. For the Jazz to make the playoffs, they would have to win each of their final two games (at Minnesota, at Memphis) while the Lakers lost to the Rockets at home.
Our oddsmakers say that's not too likely to happen, Jazz fans. According to Chief Analyst Keith Goldner, the Lakers hold a 93.7 percent chance at the playoffs. Even with Kobe knocked out, everything would have to break perfectly for the Jazz, and that's just not statistically likely to happen. With their four-game winning streak, the Lakers have erased all doubt in this race.