Boxplot analysis of 1998 first round playoff data for three NBA teams.

Pro Basketball is a very popular sport in the United States, especially in the month of May when the playoffs begin and the "Race for the Ring" is in full swing. The NBA playoffs are always filled with surprises, like will the #8 team upset the #1 team, or will the Chicago Bulls win another title. There are four "rounds" in the NBA playoffs: the first round, conference semi-finals, conference finals, and finally the NBA finals. The first round is a 5 game series, 2-2-1, where the first two games, and the possible 5th game are played in the better team's arena. The conference semi-finals and conference finals are both 7 game series, 2-2-1-1-1, where the first two games are played in the better team's arena, the second two games are played in the other team's arena and then it alternates from one arena to the next. In the end, the better team should have played 4 out of 7 games on their home court. The NBA finals are structured differently since the teams usually come from different regions of the US. In the NBA finals, there are 7 games but the structure is 2-3-2, where the first two games and the last two games are played in the better team's arena.

In this activity, you will generate a boxplot to analyze the scoring averages of three NBA teams in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. Using the Boxplot Program and Instructions, construct a boxplot of the data to analyze the distribution of the points scored while paying close attention to outliers.  You can also use a TI-83 calculator.  

One Text file is available for this activity with all 3 teams. Also, all three teams are available in TI-83 Group format. You may either enter the data into your calculator manually or you may import the data through a TI-Graph link.

The median is middle score of the players on team. A balanced boxplot has a median centrally located in the boxplot. This means that the scoring was evenly distributed with half of the team members' scoring averages being above the median and half of the team having scoring averages below the median. Which team has the most balanced boxplot? The worst? The left hinge is the median of the bottom half of the data. What is the median of the Blazers first round data and why do you think that it is so far from the left hinge? The whiskers are the maximum and minimum points in the data set. The boxplot for the Pacers shows that there is a long right whisker. After looking at the data, explain why this is so. Assume that Reggie Miller and Rik Smits, the two highest scoring players, struggled in the third game of the first round and now their average scores are both 14.5 points. How will this drastic change in scoring average affect the boxplot of the Pacer data and why?

Original work on this document was done by Central Virginia Governor's School students Ashley Tucker, Mark Allen, and Amit Nithian (Class of '00).

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Copyright © 1999 Central Virginia Governor's School for Science and Technology Lynchburg, VA