A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Dallas Mavericks

NBA Finals preview: How Dallas can beat Miami

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Dirk Nowitzki playing with the Dallas Mavericks

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So here we are in the Finals with the second Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks matchup in 5 years. I have to admit, as good as these playoffs have been, there’s something weirdly underwhelming about these two teams making the Finals compared to usual. Neither of them have wowed me despite a 12-3 record for both teams getting here. Both teams teams grind it out defensively and have their stars make the right plays to win the game. Both are here in large part to other team’s flaws – Essentially every team in this playoffs have had flaws.

Miami will be the clear favorite. With the way they dispatched Boston and Chicago, it certainly looks like there’ll be no stopping the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh express for a number of years. Here’s why I think Dallas has a reasonable shot:

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Written by jr.

May 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm

2011 POY Watch – End Conference Finals

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The Player of the Year Watch continues past the regular season factoring in all of the playoffs and coming up with the player that truly had the best overall season. After each round, I will update the rankings.

Player (last rank)

1A. Dirk Nowitzki (4)

It’s been a joy to watch Dirk this year. He would without question be my Offensive Player of the Year. He plays so damn smart, with such an unreal touch. The Mavs are in the finals, with not a ton of talent around Dirk. I know that fit matters, and the Mavs have fantastic fit, but Dirk deserves some credit for helping to build that fit to.

1B. LeBron James (3)

And then there’s LeBron. I talked once before about how much I hate ties in rankings…when I last ranked a tie. Again though it seems appropriate right now as an in flux ranking to have a tie on top.

What LeBron did to Chicago was unreal. Tier 1 level offense, with world class defense. He is the best player in the game, and at this point I’m expecting him to take the crown over Dirk when all is said and done. But as they say, that’s why they play the game.

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8 thoughts on the Thunder’s elimination

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Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunders at ...

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1. For the second year in a row, the Oklahoma City Thunder exit the playoffs in a way that leaves us all excited for the future. One of the biggest turnarounds in history last year to get to the 1st round, now they get to the conference finals. They remain precocious as hell, and short of some major blow up in the off-season, I expect they’ll be the favorites to win the Western Conference next year, as well as to be the dominant team in the West going forward.

2. I think people need to keep some perspective though. This was a Thunder team that achieved their record in the regular season largely by beating mediocre teams (they struggled against the elite), and that were very fortunate that instead of having to face the best team in the conference in the second round (as a #4 seed should), they played an 8 seed. And even then, they only beat the 8 seed with the help of home court advantage. It’s wrong to talk about the series with the Dallas Mavericks as if it was the gentleman sweep that a 4-1 victory implies – the Mavs had to turn it on completely and get a bit lucky just to win 2 of 3 home games. However, the fact remains that after getting a fortunate draw, they managed only 1 win when faced with a true contender.

Bottom line is that no one should look at this Thunder team like one that took the playoffs by storm this year.

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The evolution of a player: Old Dirk, young Durant/Young Dirk, old Durant

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Dirk Nowitzki

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One of the reasons I find this Dallas-Oklahoma City matchup intriguing is the comparison between Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant. Both guys are nearly incomparable to another star in NBA history due to their length and shooting ability for their positions – except maybe to each other.

What I see in Durant is shades of young Dirk, a player who’s height, speed and jumpshooting ability allow him to dart around the court and find open shots whenever he wants. Dirk started his career at C actually, where his speed and off ball cutting was even more pronounced. What’s fascinating about Durant’s current game to me is how despite being the 2 time scoring champion, he needs remarkably little set plays to get his points. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

May 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Dirk vs Aldridge, Hakeem vs Malone in ’95 and where the rubber meets the road in the playoffs

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Dirk Nowitzki playing with the Dallas Mavericks

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Two games into the Dallas-Portland series, Dallas has 2 Ws. Despite Dallas winning 57 games to Portland’s 48 in the regular season, Portland became the popular upset choice with their play after the Gerald Wallace trade and the overall “meh” feeling about the Mavericks roster. So far Dallas has proven the pundits wrong.

Both teams have played similarly. Dirk Nowitzki (30.5ppg) and LaMarcus Aldridge (25.5ppg) have scored a ton, the rest have been limited to ok shooting %s, due to strong defense on both sides. Both games were dead even at the start of the 4th, with a 61-61 tie with 10 minutes left in Game 1 and a 78-76 lead for Dallas with under 9 left in Game 2. Then the gap between Dirk and Aldridge became apparant. In Game 1 Dirk scored 15 points in the last 10 minutes while Aldridge scored 6. In Game 2 Dirk dropped 13 points in the last 9 minutes, Aldridge 3. Dirk assassinated the Blazers in both 4th quarters.

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Written by jr.

April 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

The value of “Tyson Chandler buckets” – Low volume, high efficiency scoring

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Tyson ChandlerOne of the advancements of basketball statisicians is a movement towards better wars of measuring scoring efficiency. The most popular is True Shooting % (TS%), which is more accurate of points per shot than FG% because it accounts for 3pt line and FT line scoring. The average TS% for teams in the league is .54. Thus player efficiency is measured by scoring above and below this line. Usually, we value players who score 20 points a game at .60 TS%. Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer are examples of players capable of this. But what about the players who score at an even higher efficiency, but at a low volume? Examples of this include Tyson Chandler who scores 10.3 points a game at a league leading .70 TS%, Matt Bonner who scores 7.6 points a game at .669 TS%, and this year’s Shaq who scores 9.3 points a game at .655 TS%. These seasons are usually not as valued due to the lower volume. But is this accurate? Let’s do a quick calculation:

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Written by jr.

March 15, 2011 at 12:11 am

The Case for Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk Nowitzki has been my choice for MVP for more than a month now. However, we’ve only got about a month to go in the regular season, and Dirk’s not on most people’s short list. He isn’t in the top 3 at either ESPN’s or nba.com’s Award Watches for example. The closest I’ve seen anyone argue for Dirk, was a good SB Nation article saying he deserves more attention than he’s getting, and a Mavs’ blogger saying he’s as deserving as the other candidates. Not all that bold. So I guess I’ll take the leap:

As of now, Dirk Nowitzki is the player most deserving of winning the 2010-11 NBA MVP.

Let’s start out with the basics: The Dirk Nowitzki is the clear superstar on a team with no other all-stars, and he has led the team to the 3rd best record in the league in a year where there are no serious candidates on on the top 2 teams. Right there, Dirk should be on everybody’s mind as a top candidate.

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Ranking the NBA title favorites before the ides of March

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After a day of elite on elite action on a Sunday with a little more than a month to go in the regular season, seems like a good time to evaluate the title contenders.

First let me give an updated chart of how the elites have done against each other. (My original table from last month was in the Guts & Domination post.)


 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s ordered by the significant margin wins based on the theory that those are the truly telling results. This seems fine to me generally, but reader lpb has pointed out that Chicago’s record is heavily skewed based on what happened early in the season. In the last 3 months, the Bulls are a remarkably 10-0 against the other elites, with half of those being >5 margin wins. Damn impressive. Still not enough for me to pick them to win the title.

The Favorites, from most to least

1. Boston Celtics

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Guts & Domination Revisited: NBA ’10-11 Elite vs Elite Records

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With 4 of the top 8 teams playing against each other today, I thought it was a good time to look at how the top teams are doing against each other.  Here they are, with the explanation and takeway conclusions below.

What I Did & Why I Did It

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Questioning whether the Spurs dominance will translate into the playoffs

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San Antonio Spurs logo

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Nearing the all-star break, the San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the league at a crisp 42-8, an astonishing 69 (!) win pace. With the Lakers having the hardest remaining schedule in the league so far it appears no-one will challenge them for the #1 seed in the West. The Spurs also have the best SRS in the league albeit it indicates the they are playing at a level below their W/L pace.

Yet I am not convinced.  I believe one of the reason even point differential can prove misleading towards projecting playoff success, is what it takes to succeed in either is often different. This appears in other sports as well. Most recently the New England Patriots put up one of the greatest offensive regular seasons ever statistically, but looked pedestrian in the playoffs offensively. In truth the Patriots lacked deep ball passing and power running dimensions to their game and the Jets exposed these weaknesses by solely covering the short passing game. The playoffs showed what regular season stats did not – the Patriots offense was flawed.

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