NBA lineup combos predict winners 

May, 6, 2010
05/06/10
2:02
PM ET

The world (and ABC) may be ready for a Cavs-Lakers NBA Finals, but Kobe Bryant versus LeBron James may have to wait. The numbers say we should watch out for Orlando, Boston and even the winner of the Phoenix-San Antonio series.

Cleveland has the best player on the planet, and Hollywood has a lineup of All-Stars. But even the best athletes in basketball can't play 48 minutes a game, so how a team mixes and matches everyone else is extremely important. Some coaches are so good at lineup construction that they can effectively neutralize an opponent's overall talent advantage. Others, to put it politely, aren't. And the difference is really showing up in this season's playoffs.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
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