Hard Fought, but Not That Close (2 x 7 game series that weren't actually that close)

In the first round the Celtics swept the Brooklyn Nets. They outscored the Nets by 4.1 points per 100 possessions. They had zero double digit wins.

In the 2nd round they outscored the Bucks by 9.1 points per 100. They had a double digit lead in the last 2 minutes of all 4 wins. The Bucks never had a double digit lead in the last 5 minutes after game 1. The Bucks won 2 games that were one play away from being losses. Game 1 looks like an outlier as the Celtics smashed the Bucks by 12.6 points per 100 over the final 6 games of the series. This was a 7 game series, but it wasn’t close. It was a 5 or 6 game series that went 7. Middleton would have made a difference, but a 10 point per 100 difference? Probably not.

The same thing is true of the Mavs/ Suns series. The Mavs figured the Suns out, and the series was over. The Mavs won 4 of the last 5 games, and outscored the Suns by 9.6 points per 100 in those 5 games. The last 2 games were blowouts, and their other 2 wins were by 9 and 10 points.

The Celtics and Mavs both made significant trades during the season, and after the trade deadline the Celtics went 20-6 and the Mavs went 19-7. They were 1st and 2nd over that span. The Mavs were a massive 10 points behind the Celtics’ otherworldly 13.3 net rating, but they were winning. Both teams dominated their conferences’s defending champion, and it really shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise. We all know who the Celtics and Mavs were in December has little to tell us about who they are now, and similarly the fact that they both took 7 games to win in the 2nd round doesn’t tell us how close those series really were. Like the Celtics/ Hawks series in 2008 the number of games it took just doesn't tell the story.

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