Few are looking for potential upsets in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, and those who are likely aren't guessing that it would be the L.A. Lakers-Denver Nuggets match-up that would produce such an upset. But according to the Log5 projection system, based on Bill James' baseball program and adapted to the NBA by Ed Kupfer, this series is exactly where you're mostly likely to find an upset.
We map out the potential outcomes below the jump.
Log5 uses regular season Pythagorean win percentage, which is basically an adaptation of win percentage that uses point differential at its basis. The easiest way to explain why we use Pythagorean win percentage when possible: if you have two 40-26 teams, and one wins a lot of close games but the other wins a lot of blow-outs, the team that wins the blow-outs is probably better. Pythagorean allows you to compare those.
As it turns out, by Pythagorean win percentage and point differential, the Nuggets were a good bit better than the Lakers this season. In fact, they were good enough, according to the numbers, to go into their series with L.A. favored despite conceding home court advantage. Log5 gives Denver a 56 percent probability of winning the series.
While regular season point differential doesn't realize that Nene got traded for JaVale McGee, keep in mind that Denver's numbers didn't shift too much after the deadline, and that the Brazilian struggled with injury for much of the season. The most likely outcome in this series is Denver in 6, and there's a 64 percent probability the series goes to at least six games. It tips off on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.