Lakers vs. Celtics: A statistical nightmare

Tonight’s opening game of the NBA Finals will mark the 11th time that the Los Angeles Lakers will face the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.  In previous NBA Finals appearances, the Celtics have put away the Lakers (yes, including the Minneapolis Lakers) in 8 out of a possible 10 times.  In the history of the NBA Finals, the Lakers have appeared a staggering 28 times, and have won half of the appearances (14).  The Celtics have appeared 19 times and have had a bit more luck by only losing in 3 of those 19 appearances (57’-58’, 84’-85’, 86’-87’).  As luck would have it, 2 of the Celtics 3 NBA Finals losses came against the Lakers (see chart below).

  Total NBA Finals Appearances W-L in NBA Finals Appearances Total NBA Finals against each other W-L in NBA Finals against each other
Los Angeles Lakers





Boston Celtics





In the 2007-2008 season, the Lakers scored an average of 108.6 points per game (ppg), while the Celtics scored 100.5 ppg, but held their opponents to a league best 90.3 ppg.  The Laker’s opponents scored an average 101.3 ppg.  Let us break it down even more.  The Lakers had 5 players that averaged at least 10 ppg, the highest being Kobe Bryant at 28.3 ppg.  Out of those 5 players, their ppg average is 17.2 ppg.  The Celtics had 4 players that averaged at least 10 ppg, the highest being Paul Pierce at 19.6 ppg.  Out of those 4 players, their ppg average is 16.6 ppg. 

The Lakers and Celtics were nearly identical in Field Goal (FG), Three Point (3P), and Free Throw (FT) percentages for the 2007-2008 season (see chart below).





Los Angeles Lakers




Boston Celtics




During the 2007-2008 regular season, the Celtics played the Lakers on two occasions and won by large margins in each game.  On November 23rd, 2007, the Celtics beat the Lakers by a score of 107-94, and on December 30th, 2007, the Celtics beat the Lakers by a score of 110-91.  During the season, the Lakers were 30-11 at home while 27-14 on the road.  The Celtics were 35-6 at home while 31-10 on the road.

As we look at the statistics above, we see two extremely talented teams that are meeting in the NBA Finals.  This will not be a snooze fest like the 2001-2002 Lakers-Nets Finals.  It could be argued that the Lakers have more experience in the NBA Finals (Phil Jackson, Kobe, Derek Fisher, etc) but we cannot forget the complete history of the Celtics in the NBA Finals.  The Celtics have phenomenal defense, but on the other hand, they have shown difficulty in winning on the road during the playoffs.  The Lakers have the Finals experience in the past, but can Kobe play unselfishly with the team around him?

Sigh….  With all of that said, I have no clue which team will go on to win the NBA Finals.  So I’m going to come up with the most ridiculous statistics and decide based on those statistics who will win the NBA Finals.    

Let alone all of the talent on both teams, lets take a look at how the Celtics faired against the Lakers on specific days of the week during the NBA Finals:


Celtics W-L Record

Lakers W-L Record






















Ok, I still have no clue who will win, so I have assigned each side of a coin to a team.  The Celtics are heads, and the Lakers are tails.  And who is the winner? 

Game 1 (heads) – Celtics win

Game 2 (tails) – Lakers win

Game 3 (heads) – Celtics win

Game 4 (heads) – Celtics win

Game 5 (tails) – Lakers win

Game 6 (heads) – Celtics win

I guess the Celtics will win the NBA Finals in 6 games.  Enjoy the Finals, and enough with statistics!


3 Responses to “Lakers vs. Celtics: A statistical nightmare”

  1. What, no incisive analysis on the assist-to-turnover ratio for the back-up point guards on Thursdays that bear even numbers?

    I’m disappointed.

    But I agree with you, though. Stats should be shoved aside and the only thing that should matter is what you see on the court tonight. The team that comes out of the gate with energy, swagger and really good shooting will be the team to beat. Unless they both come out with energy, swagger and really good shooting – then they’re both the team to beat…which doesn’t really work out for a clear-cut champ, does it?

    Good call on the coin flip thing. I tried my own version, only gave the opposite team the other side of the coin (Lakers = heads, Celtics = tails) and here’s how my analysis worked out:

    GAME ONE: Kind of heads – the coin fell off of my desk, and sort of landed on a crumpled piece of paper, and the head side was the one that I could see the most of. I think that means that KG pulls a groin about 4 minutes into the third quarter and Doc Rivers literally drinks from a flask on the sidelines.

    GAME TWO: heads – this time I caught the coin in my hand and slapped it on my wrist like manly-men are supposed to. Lakers cruise.

    GAME THREE: heads – I examined the coin to see if it was fixed. Like games refereed by Tim Donoghy. Lakers cakewalk.

    GAME FOUR: lost the coin – it rolled under the bookshelf in my office. I think that is not a good sign. An earthquake hits Los Angeles and the Staples Center is shaken to the ground. The Los Angeles Clippers immediately raid the rubble and steal the Lakers uniforms in an attempt to swap history and karma. Celtics win by default – the Lakers team they play is really the Clippers team in stolen uniforms.

    GAME FIVE: co-worker stole the coin out of mid-air – I’m giving that to the Lakers, simply because of Kobe. For some reason, he seems like the kind of person that would do that.

    So, Lakers in Five. Unless I try the experiment again…

  2. twonateshow Says:

    Jason, your coin-flip analysis outdid mine by far. My coin-flip analysis was quite boring and uneventful. I truly cannot decide who I think will be the better team. I think that this will be the matchup of the decade for sure. If KG pulls his groin tonight, I’m going to die of a laugh induced heart attack!

  3. I really need to get some more accurate coins for flipping. I can hear the screams of the anguished right now – those unfortunate souls who counted on my flipping savvy to steer them in the right direction for their sports related “investments”…

    Alas, the perils of uninformed prognostication.

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