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May 7, 2012, 02:28 PM ET
Every Playoff Game is a Snowflake

by Kevin Pelton

So much of the time, we like to imagine that we can add results from the previous game of a playoff series, add in home-court advantage and player availability, and voila! An expectation for the next game. The Atlanta-Boston series is a reminder of the folly of such a philosophy. Let’s recap:

Game One: Hawks build a huge lead, then hang on for a win.
Game Two: Playing without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics steal a road a win as Josh Smith goes down with an injury.
Game Three: Despite Smith’s absence, Atlanta forces overtime in Boston before losing by six.
Game Four: The Hawks get back Smith and Al Horford … and lose by 22 after trailing by more than 30 points.

The moral of the story is there’s too much randomness within a single game to focus on one factor and expect it to regress to the mean. Every game is a unique environment. Sometimes, like in Utah-San Antonio, the results end up largely similar, but every game brings a new story all its own.

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