Insights from a close watch of Bucks at Lakers

There is a play in the Bucks vs. Lakers game from March 6th that captures something fundamental about how Milwaukee plays on offense.  The play begins with 7:03 left in the 4th quarter, after Giannis snatches the rebound from a missed Anthony Davis jumper.  The Bucks are down 8, trying to bridge a gap created by a dominant 3rd quarter performance by LA.

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Will the Electoral College carry Trump to victory in 2020?

The 2016 election had a historic Electoral College/popular vote split. What does this mean for 2020?

As most politically aware observers know, Donald Trump lost the 2016 presidential popular vote to Hillary Clinton.  In fact, Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 by about 2.1% points, which is roughly in line with the 2.4% popular vote margin of victory that George W. Bush secured in the 2004 election.  Mr. Trump won the presidency thanks to his relative strength in the Electoral College; he secured 306 pledged Electoral College votes, a majority of the 538 cast.  To understand his advantage in the 2016 electoral vote, it helps to understand the concepts of the tipping point state and the Electoral College Lean.

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The NBA Storylines I Miss Most

I’m having NBA withdrawal.  We haven’t played any games since March 11th and there are serious doubts now among league executives if this season will even be finished at all, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

With all the uncertainty notwithstanding, I thought it would be fun (and maybe even cathartic) to look back at some of the storylines that made the rest of this season, particularly the playoffs, so compelling.  In no particular order, here they are below:

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What happens to home court advantage when the Lakers and Clippers face off at Staples Center?

With the possibility of an all-LA Western Conference Finals looming, I looked back at regular season data from the past 12 years to see if the home team maintains an advantage.

On Sunday afternoon, the basketball world’s two Los Angeles squads face off at Staples Center, their shared home. Though the rivalry has historically been dominated by the Lakers, this year’s matchup features two star-studded squads at the top of the Western Conference.  With the Lakers and Clippers 1 and 2 in the Western Conference standings, the thought of an exciting Western Conference Finals between the two rivals, with LeBron James going toe-to-toe with Kawhi Leonard, is a real possibility this season.

What makes a potential playoff matchup all the more intriguing is the added drama of knowing that every game would be played in the same building!  That got me thinking about home court advantage in such a series.  Would the home team in an individual game of a Lakers vs. Clippers series not have the full home court advantage that we would expect from a typical matchup?  Or might we see the Lakers, the traditionally more popular team, maintain their home court advantage while the Clippers suffer the effects of a swarm of purple and gold fans invading their “home” games.

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Why are playoff projections so high on the Pelicans?

The Pelicans are in pole position in the playoff race out West despite being 2 games back of Memphis with 23 to play. Why?

If you have been tracking the heated race for the 8th seed in the Western Conference, you might have noticed something weird.  Projection models such as FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR based predictions are bullish about the Pelicans’ chances of securing that final spot.  As of early February 29, New Orleans is given a 74% chance of making the playoffs by FiveThirtyEight.  This is despite the fact that the Memphis Grizzlies are the team currently in 8th place in the standings, two game up on the the Pelicans with only 23 games left to play.  FiveThirtyEight gives the Grizzlies only a 4% chance of making the playoffs.  What is going on here?  Why are we so confident that New Orleans will jump Memphis, and hold off at least three other plausible challengers for that last playoff spot?

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