The Chicago Bulls come into the NBA Playoffs with the league's best record again, and they face a sub-elite first-round opponent in the Philadelphia 76ers. Even beyond injury concerns with Chicago and the likelihood we'll see trench warfare between two of the league's top defenses, the advanced stats indicate that this could be a long series.
As in previous years, we've adopted Bill James' Log5 projection method for the NBA. The Log5 projection for Bulls-Sixers, as you'll see below the jump, foretells a Chicago victory ... eventually.
Here's the series probability chart.
Log5, which uses the teams' regular season Pythagorean win percentage and a factor that estimates the standard 60 percent home winning percentage among evenly matched teams, gives the Bulls a 78 percent probability of claiming victory. But it also shows a 54 percent probability that the series goes six or seven games. The most likely result is Bulls in 5, but Bulls in 7 and Bulls in 6 have higher probabilities than Bulls in 4.
According to the numbers, Chicago has a 72 percent probability of winning any game in this series at home. The Sixers have a 48 percent home win probability. The most likely scenario is a common one in first-round series: the higher seed wins the first two at home, splits the next two on the road, and caps the series in Game 5. We'll see if the Sixers can alter that course with an early road win.
PICK: Bulls in 5.