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How Many NBA Pundits Predicted A Spurs-Heat Finals?

Illustration for article titled How Many NBA Pundits Predicted A Spurs-Heat Finals?

Republished with permission from PunditTracker.

35 ESPN experts made preseason predictions on which teams would make the NBA Finals. Only one correctly picked both the Heat and Spurs. Unfortunately for ESPN, this pundit is no longer with the network.


The pundit’s name? John Hollinger.

Hollinger joined the front office of the Memphis Grizzlies last December but not before making his preseason selections. While all but one of ESPN’s 35 ‘experts’ picked the Heat to make the Finals, Hollinger was alone in picking the Spurs, which is mildly surprising given that Vegas pegged the Spurs’ odds at about 14%. Here is a summary of the collective picks along with the corresponding Vegas odds at the time.

Matchup# of Pundits% of PunditsVegas Odds

For the individual picks of each of the pundits, click here.

So what is the prognosticating class saying about the Finals? Well, let’s first take a look at how they have done this playoffs so far. Here is a recap of how the pundits collectively fared in each series:

MatchupHit Rate #Hit Rate %Vegas OddsComments
Pacers-Hawks32/3397%78%Henry Abbott (ESPN) Wrong
Knicks-Celtics34/3597%75%Chris Forsberg (ESPN) Wrong
Spurs-Lakers34/3597%86%Amin Elhassan (ESPN) Wrong
Warriors-Nuggets2/336%23%Ken Berger (ESPN) & Chris Mannix (SI) Right
Grizzlies-Thunder19/2190%55%Bradford Doolittle (ESPN) & Ian Thomsen (SI) Wrong
Spurs-Warriors21/2295%87%Adry Torres (ESPN) Wrong

As has been the case in each of the past four playoffs, there have been four upsets so far this year: Bulls/Nets, Warriors/Nuggets, Grizzlies/Clippers, and Pacers/Knicks.

We have tracked 13 pundits from ESPN and CBS Sports who have made predictions for each of the fifteen playoff series this year. Here are their rankings by Yield—which is the average payout had you bet $1 on each of their predictions—along with their predictions for the Finals. You can make your own predictions for both the Series and Game 1 (plus other propositions) by visiting PunditTracker’s NBA page (click here) and using the “Vote Now” buttons. We will grade you afterwards.

PunditHit RateYieldPrediction
Ken Berger, CBS11/14$1.22Spurs in 6
Amin Elhassan, ESPN11/14$1.18Spurs in 6
Michael Wallace, ESPN11/14$1.10Heat in 7
Tom Haberstroh, ESPN11/14$1.10Heat in 7
Zach Harper, CBS11/14$1.10Heat in 7
Kevin Pelton, ESPN11/14$1.08Heat in 7
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN11/14$1.08Heat in 7
J.A. Adande, ESPN11/14$1.08Heat in 7
Henry Abbott, ESPN10/14$1.06Heat in 7
Royce Young, CBS10/14$0.96Spurs in 7
Brian Windhorst, ESPN10/14$0.95Heat in 7
Israel Gutierrez, ESPN10/14$0.91Heat in 6
Vegas Favorites10/14$0.91Heat in 5 or 7
Matt Moore, CBS9/14$0.80Heat in 6

The group has had a decent showing so far, with nine of the thirteen returning a positive yield. Ken Berger of CBS Sports has turned in the best performance, thanks mostly to his pick of the Warriors to beat the Nuggets. ESPN’s Amin Elhassan is #2, buoyed by his picks of the Bulls to beat the Nets and Pacers to beat the Knicks, which more than offset his unfortunate prediction of the Lakers to beat the Spurs. Matt Moore of CBS sits at the bottom of the rankings.


Finally, here are the 16 NBA Playoff Pundits that have Profile Pages on PunditTracker because they have made at least 25 predictions, ranked by their cumulative performance over the past four playoffs:

David Thorpe, ESPN$1.22$0.83$1.25$1.15$1.11Heat in 6
Tim Legler, ESPN$1.29$0.68$1.09$1.45$1.11Spurs in 6
Jon Barry, ESPN $1.39$1.09$0.94$1.09Heat in 7
Tom Haberstroh, ESPN $0.53$1.23$1.10$1.08Heat in 7
John Hollinger, ESPN$1.25$0.88$1.06 $1.07
Ken Berger, CBS $0.90$1.22$1.06Spurs in 6
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN $0.94$1.09$1.08$1.04Heat in 7
Henry Abbott, ESPN$1.14$0.88$1.09$1.06$1.04Heat in 7
Chris Broussard, ESPN$1.17$0.98$1.09$0.79$1.03
J.A. Adande, ESPN$0.76$1.16$1.06$1.08$1.01Heat in 7
Israel Gutierrez, ESPN $0.00$1.17$0.91$1.01Heat in 6
Royce Young, CBS $1.03$0.96$1.00Spurs in 7
Chad Ford, ESPN$1.05$0.67$0.98$1.26$0.98Heat in 7
Vegas Favorites$0.99$1.00$0.90$0.91$0.95Heat in 5 or 7
Marc Stein, ESPN$0.77$0.95$0.90$0.80$0.86Spurs in 6
Matt Moore, CBS $0.91$0.80$0.86Heat in 6
Michael Wilbon, ESPN $0.72$0.86$1.02$0.84

We will update all the rankings after the Finals.

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