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The Golden State Margin of Error

The Golden State Warriors came back from a big deficit in Game 1. Then they blew a huge lead in Game 2. They won both games despite playing poorly at times. I go into why Golden State is so special despite their struggles.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The margin of error as represented in polls, graphs, and charts allow the people who create the statistics to have a certain amount of leeway in their predictions. That's about the most broad way for me to understand and depict what "margin of error" means. For teams to beat the Golden State Warriors, the confidence interval they must reach likely peaks at 99 percent, especially in this injury-riddled postseason. For the Warriors to rise to that same level, the radius is much wider, leading to a much higher probability they can reach into without failing.

The Golden State Warriors play with the highest margin of error in the entire National Basketball Association and it's the only way I can explain how they keep playing up-and-down games in the postseason. And how they just keep winning.

For the Warriors, this can go both ways. It's a fascinating look into how great the Golden State Warriors are this season and on the other hand, a realistic take on the luck factor that runs through every team's title run. Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans played the Warriors closer than the Memphis Grizzlies - scoring a point differential lower than that but somehow still lost by a double-digit number. Davis' length terrified the Warriors shooters on the perimeter, forcing Curry into jumpers and allowing his team to switch and muck up the Warriors offense. On the series, they didn't shoot threes well but Eric Gordon shot 40.6 percent from three and gave Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala trouble. They also went up 20 in Game 3 before falling apart.

The Memphis Grizzlies then controlled Game 2 and 3, throwing a massive wrench into the Warriors offense without the switching, frenzied defense the Houston Rockets are playing. They chased, grabbed, held, and crushed the Warriors offense and defense into dust for 48 minutes. Mike Conley Jr and Tony Allen combined to lock up the Splash Brothers, playing near perfect offensive and defensive games. Then it all fell apart when the Warriors figured out what to do with Zach Randolph.

The Houston Rockets came back from 17 points last night and were up 16 in the first quarter in Game 1. Stephen Curry and James Harden dueled in a battle for the ages. And as the Warriors took the lead, their style again led to their downfall, though the fall was again cushioned by that margin of error. I'll come up with a name to call that. I think, at some point, maybe when all of this is over.

Part of the Warriors cutting at the margins is their style, a fast-paced, cohesive, whirling dervish of passing, shooting, and whatever comes through the consciousness as their collective minds are racing through a game. There are ways teams process a game. The San Antonio Spurs run through every option on an offense, stretching you with ropes on your hands and feet and pulling until something breaks. The Oklahoma City Thunder, when healthy, gracefully fly over you with Kevin Durant or run you over with Russell Westbrook. The Houston Rockets led by James Harden do one thing at a constant rate and do it really well, repeatedly, unless you're dazed from the blunt trauma.

These Golden State Warriors are vastly different from each of those teams. They function at the whims of Stephen Curry and his leadership is pronounced when the rest of the team is ready to try about anything in all situations. Draymond Green is sprinting downcourt in a 2-on-4 and throwing the ball backwards for transition threes. Andrew Bogut is tossing behind-the-head passes five rows into the stands. They are willing to try anything, at any time.

Perhaps the style of recklessness and the margin of error are mutually exclusive. These Warriors have won 67 games and are now 10-2 in the postseason, against the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Houston Rockets. They go into Houston up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals. They go on lightning-quick 11-0 runs because of what they do with that flowing and suffocating defense. But they also lose that lead in the game's worst moments because of those turnovers and quick shots. Draymond Green will contest three shots and grab the rebound in three seconds. Then Harrison Barnes will brick a wide-open corner 3 up 6 with 13 seconds still left on the shot clock.

The Golden State Warriors will keep playing this way. They got this far, this historically great, because of what they have done and not change to what people think they have to do. So the margin of error remains high, the highest of any team this season and one of the most fascinating teams in recent history. Just don't expect them to always take advantage of it because it usually means a perfect game is played. It hasn't happened yet. And that's not so much a bad thing than tangible proof as to the dominance of the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors.

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