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Prediction Machine tells us who wins in a game between the ’13 Miami Heat and the ’72 LA Lakers

Mar 27, 2013, 3:19 PM EDT

LeBronWilt Getty Images

So the Miami Heat have won 27 straight, and have an excellent chance of breaking the NBA record for consecutive wins, 33, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Here’s a pretty good breakdown comparing the two teams. But if you’re like me, it’s not enough to know that Thor and Hercules were both very powerful gods. You have to know which of them would win in a fight.

Enter Prediction Machine: a computer program invented by University of Cincinnati grad Paul Bessire that simulates a game 50,000 times to determine which team would win.

Before going into business himself with PredictionMachine.com, Bessire served as the product manager of quantitative analysis and content for Fox Sports Interactive, and was responsible for the math behind the historical simulation sports games at WhatIfSports.com. How accurate is it? Prediction Machine scored in the 95th percentile in Yahoo Sports’ NCAA Tournament Pick’em contest (which had close to a million entries). It also predicted the winner of five of the past seven Super Bowls, including 2009′s four-point (exactly) win by Pittsburgh; five of the past seven World Series; six of the past seven Stanley Cup champions; and five of the past seven NCAA Tournament champions.

So who wins the Heat-Lakers matchup? After simulating the 1971-72 Lakers vs. the 2012-13 Heat 50,000 times on a neutral court, the Lakers win over the Heat 54.4% of the time. The average score is 103.1-101.6. In a best-of-seven series the Lakers beat the Heat 57.7% of the time.

Prediction Machine also takes into account the level of competition in the two eras, according to Bessire. For instance, many elite players in 1972 were in the ABA. And there are more teams now, perhaps diluting the current talent pool. That’s all factored in.

And by the way: that Thor vs. Hercules matchup? We don’t need Prediction Machine for that. It always ends in a tie.

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