April 18, 2008
After 1,230 regular season games, the NBA Playoffs are finally here. (Tomorrow!) KD and I will have our own first round predictions later today, but for now we stick with the bloggin' team experts. On deck: Ryan Schwan from Hornets247 and Wes Cox from Mavs Moneyball breakdown the tight New Orleans-Dallas series. Enjoy.
Ryan Schwan, Hornets247: You're not going to find a closer match-up in the first round than Hornets-Mavericks. These teams are almost mirror images of each other. Both like the same pace of about 92 possessions a game. They both are top 5 at limiting turnovers, they rebound at almost the same rate, they shoot almost the same percentages, and their offenses and defenses produce almost identical rankings. They both sport star guards and power forwards, defensive-minded centers, and wingmen used primarily to drive a little, hit open shots and defend. Both benches can be shaky. Dallas produces an efficiency differential of 5.4 and the Hornets have a 6.1, which means all that differentiates these teams over the course of a game is one free throw.
So why do I think the Hornets will win? The All-Stars. West can match Dirk night in and night out, but despite Kidd having re-found his shot since becoming a Maverick, he still can't match-up with Paul most nights.
Home-court advantage won't hurt either. Hornets in 6.
Wes Cox, Mavs Moneyball: OK, so it's 2 vs. 7, but it is absurd how close these teams are. These teams are even. Really even. You just won't believe how mind-bogglingly even they are.
They each won over 50 games (obviously). They both went 10-6 in the Southwest Division. New Orleans won just one more game against conference foes.
Offensively, Dallas scores 100.4 a game with an efficiency of 108.6 points per 100 possessions (6th in the West). The Hornets score 100.9 per game with a 109.0 efficiency (5th in the West).
The Mavs allow 95.9 ppg with an efficiency of 103.2 per 100 possessions (8th in the NBA). New Orleans allows 95.6 ppg with an efficiency of 102.9 (7th in the NBA).
They play at a near identical pace — Dallas 92.5 possessions per game, New Orleans 92.1 — and neither team turns the ball over very much. Dallas turns it over on 12.3% of their possessions (5th in the NBA), and the Hornets have a turnover rate of 11.4% (3rd).
They split the season series 2-2, with both teams protecting home-court. And just for fun, if you add up the scores of those four games Dallas won by a combined total of just seven points (401–394).
I could keep going … but you get the point. This is going to be a good series. I'd be surprised if every game wasn't a good one. That said, I think it will only be six good games. Dallas will not lose at home, and if Dallas grabs one of the first two in New Orleans, as I believe they will, the series will end on May 1st at the AAC.