Overall, this article is an interesting analysis of how team matchups work, but I still look at the “shoot great from beyond the arc” strategy more as correlation than causation. Any team that has a hot shooting night will give Utah the same kinds of problems that they had in Boston.
But if we’re talking about the playoffs, then we have to look at teams regressing to the mean over a seven-game series.
This season, Boston shoots 36.1% from behind the arc. In a seven-game series, they are more likely to revert to their average, which means they would have made 5.8 less three pointers. Using the same metrics, Utah would have made 1.4 less 3’s. That’s a point differential of 13.2 points. Boston won by 11.
Both teams are very good grinding out wins when they play weaker teams, but neither team has a fifth gear. Look at their records against the top teams this season:
- Boston is 0–6 against the top 5 teams in the NBA, losing to Golden State, San Antonio (twice), Houston, Toronto, and Cleveland.
- Utah is 1–4 against the top 5 teams in the NBA, splitting games with Houston, then losing to the Warriors (twice), and Toronto.
It looks to me like neither team has any chance against an elite team.
I think the teams are fairly even, but give Utah a small edge. The only difference is that by playing in the East, the Boston fans can enjoy going on round further in the playoffs.