A scale for NBA playoffs teams’ power ratings

While it’s easy to use point spreads to determine the perceived superior team in each ongoing NBA playoff series, building a Power Ratings scale that accurately reflects the current market is tricky because of varying home-court values.

It’s been awhile since VSiN has had a chance to update this theme amidst the NBA and NHL playoff frenzy. Jonathan Von Tobel (co-host of “The Edge” weekdays from 3-6 p.m. ET) and I put our heads together to build a scale.

We started with the following facts:

  • Toronto was priced around -6¹/₂ to -7 at home vs. Philadelphia, and -1 to -1¹/₂ on the road until it was thought Pascal Siakam would miss Sunday’s Game 4. That would suggest Toronto is about -3¹/₂ on a neutral court with both teams at full strength. Our scale should have the Raptors about 3-4 points higher on the ladder. We’ll stay conservative and make it three points.
  •  Denver was around -4 at home vs. Portland, while the Blazers were shaded just below that at the Moda Center. We’re going to call these teams even on a neutral court because Denver usually gets extra respect at altitude.
  • Milwaukee was around -7¹/₂ to -8 at home vs. Boston, while the Celtics closed at -1¹/₂ in both of their first two home games. That’s a wider adjustment than you’d expect for a series not involving altitude … about 9 to 9¹/₂ points. Easy enough to bisect, though. A neutral court line off those numbers would be Milwaukee -3¹/₂ . The Bucks will sit three rungs higher than the Celtics.
  •  Golden State was -6 and -5¹/₂ at home vs. Houston, while the Rockets were -3¹/₂ and -1¹/₂ in the Lone Star state. Because the Rockets could manage only a regulation tie when laying -3¹/₂, that was probably too high. Let’s call it Golden State by 2¹/₂ on a neutral court.

The futures board has been showing Golden State and Milwaukee as the class of their respective conferences for weeks. With that in mind, Jonathan and I will go with estimated “market” Power Ratings of

Warriors 90, Bucks 87, Rockets 87, Raptors 86, Celtics 84, 76ers 83, Nuggets 83, Trail Blazers 83.

As we’ve discussed in the past, this type of exercise helps you “get inside the head” of the market. It’s impossible to know for sure what’s going to happen in any given game. But, you can evaluate whether or not the market is properly pricing the possibilities. Sharps beat the market because they look for value.

You also can use estimated “market” Power Ratings to project likely point spreads for future rounds. That could lead to opportunities on series prices or the futures board.

Jonathan and I will continue to update our estimated “market” Power Ratings periodically through the rest of the NBA postseason. Do you see any examples where the market may be overrating or underrating a contender in a way you can exploit?

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