Thursday, April 15, 2010
Ok. So you might know John Hollinger as an ESPN NBA analyst, but in his latest post on the NBA playoffs, he goes beyond his coverage of NBA to throw out a little insult to the Frogs. This guy has no frame of reference because A. He didn't do his research and find out that TCU is in Fort Worth and B. He's a fucking NBA analyst. Anyways, part of his story is below.
(2) Dallas vs. (7) San Antonio
Season series: 3-1 Mavs.
Odds say: Spurs 74.5%; Mavs 24.5%
This is one of two matchups that really vexed me, because the statistical indicators basically collide with themselves.
Let's start at the top. In a previous piece on the Mavs that got Dallas fans stirred up, I mentioned I thought my Power Rankings had overrated San Antonio. Oops. As it turns out, they were remarkably prescient: San Antonio went on to crush one contender after another the rest of the way. (Lesson: Never try to make playoff predictions in early March. Not that making them in mid-April will turn out much better.)
Second, there's that whole 41-0 thing. Dallas won the season series with San Antonio 3-1, so the Spurs would be a glaring exception to the rule if I were to pick them.
I've been cynical about Dallas' contender status ("Really?" Mavs nation says, "You don't say?"), but the Mavs played much better over the final 10 days of the season and ended up with a respectable point differential over the final quarter of the season. The Mavs also are 23-7 since trading for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, which is superior to San Antonio's 20-11 mark in that time.
The difference is that San Antonio played one of the league's most difficult schedules over the final quarter of the season, while Dallas' schedule looked like it was drawn up by TCU's football program. (You like that? Two Dallas sports insults in one sentence! P.S.: Roger Staubach was a ninny.)
In all seriousness, Dallas played the league's second-easiest schedule over the final quarter. Of the Mavs' final 21 games, 12 were against lottery teams, two others were against the lottery-esque Bulls and one was against San Antonio's scrubs -- plus, 12 of the 21 games were at home. So only six of 21 were against playoff-caliber competition, and they lost four of those games (and two others).
Meanwhile, San Antonio faced a murderer's row over the final month. Eleven of the Spurs' final 17 opponents won 50 games, and two others (Memphis and Houston) were respectable, plus 10 of the 17 were on the road. In that time, the Spurs beat Cleveland, L.A., Orlando, Denver, Boston and Oklahoma City, and posted a better scoring margin against the brutal schedule than Dallas did against its parade of softies.
What I'm saying is that the records deceive -- by most advanced measures, San Antonio appears to be the better team. As for that little 41-0 thing? It comes into play only because the Spurs tanked the season finale in Dallas. Had they won, the season series would be 2-2 and I'd have no reason whatsoever to pick Dallas.
As noted, the last team to defy the 41-0 rule was the Spurs, who did it the last time they went into a series without home-court advantage in the first round. It looks like they'll do it again.
Posted by BuckNasty at Thursday, April 15, 2010