NBA 538 Prediction Sets Celtics at #1 To Win it All


FiveThirtyEight has just placed the surging Boston Celtics as most likely to win the championship, let’s compare the past rankings

FiveThirtyEight is one of the best basketball analytical and prediction model out there, it uses an intricate set of data network to tabulate its predictions, as quoted on the site:

How this works: These forecasts are based on 50,000 simulations of the rest of the season. Our player-based RAPTOR forecast doesn’t account for wins and losses; it is based entirely on our NBA player projections, which estimate each player’s future performance based on the trajectory of similar NBA players. These are combined with up-to-date depth charts — tracking injuries, trades and other player transactions — to generate talent estimates for each team. A team’s full-strength rating assumes all of its key players are in the lineup. A team’s current rating reflects any injuries and rest days in effect at the moment of the team’s next game. Elo ratings — which power the pure Elo forecast — are a measure of team strength based on head-to-head results, margin of victory and quality of opponent

Game metrics are on a 0-100 scale. Quality is determined by the harmonic mean of the teams’ Elo ratings; importance measures how much the result will alter playoff projections; the overall number is the average of the quality and importance values.

Comparing Predictions at start of season vs. now

Latest prediction as of 28 Mar
Prediction at start of NBA 2021 – 2022 Season

The comparison comes off as very surprising. The 538 model could not provide the wholly unexpected surge of the young Memphis Grizzlies squad who has outdone themselves and beyond by placing at the 2nd seed in the West Conference behind Ja Morant.

The Atlanta Hawks sticks out as a gaping outlier, with 92% forecasted chances to make the playoffs, they are now barely hanging on for dear life to make the play-in at 11 seed. There are no major injuries to any of the roster and Trae Young has been excellent – but the squad still falls short.

Meanwhile, all of the top 10 teams forecasted to hit the playoffs has performed as expected. The lakers were projected at a 49% chance to make the playoffs.

The Celtics had started the year going 18 – 19 and has many calls for a trading of certain players and a firing of a rookie coach. This is an instance that shows them patience pays out in the end as the team has figured it out since the all-star break and stormed from 11 seed to the first seed in the East conference.

With only less than 10 games left for each teams, the season will go down to the line as many teams still have a tight contest ahead of them. In the east, the fifth to seventh seed are separated by only two games break and in the west, the fourth to seventh seed is separated by 3.5.

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