Friday, April 29, 2011

The Memphis Grizzlies have just eliminated the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs, with a 99-91 victory in Game 6 of the teams' series. Issues of streakiness/momentum were implicated at both the micro and macro levels. Regarding the former, Memphis used a late 12-2 run (from down 80-79 to up 91-82) to blunt the Spurs' comeback and take control of the game. The Grizzlies had also jumped out to a 14-2 opening lead (play-by-play sheet).

At a macro, season-long level, we have seen an epic collapse by San Antonio, from at one point holding a 57-13 record (.814) to closing the regular season with a 4-8 mark, leaving the Spurs' record at 61-21 (game-by-game log). Now, with the series loss to Memphis, the Spurs have become one of the few No. 1 seeds within their conference to lose to a No. 8 seed.

Baseball studies have tended to find no connection between teams' performance levels toward the end of the regular season and in the playoffs (here and here). One series does not a trend make, but San Antonio's fall-off at the end of the regular season certainly presaged a playoff collapse in this instance.

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