Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Have the Mavericks already peaked?

As depressing as Sunday's loss was, I feel justified in pointing out that Dallas has still won 9 of their last 10 (90%), 26 of their last 29 (89.7%), 34 of their last 38 (89.5%), and 47 of their last 52 (90.4%).

The idea of peaking too early is obviously still scary after Detroit's meltdown in last year's playoffs following their 64 regular-season wins. But these numbers suggest that if Dallas already peaked, their drop-off has been exceedingly slight. And, of course, the slight drop-off is when compared to the best run in the history of professional sports. So we shouldn't worry too much about Dallas yet. (Worry about Amare, perhaps, but don't worry about Dallas.)

To come at it from another angle, it's true that Dallas wasn't able to match their undefeated February with an undefeated March. (See my earlier post for their month-by-month record.) However, they did finish out March at a healthy 13-2 (86.7%), which means you could say that for the past two months they averaged one loss per month.

To move to another point, if the best thing that's happened to the Mavericks in the past month is the distance they've gained on Phoenix in the standings, the second best thing that's happened is the distance the Spurs have placed between themselves and the Jazz. The thought that San Antonio could take care of Phoenix in the playoffs without Dallas ever having to see them is extremely appealing to me. If you'd hate to get beat by the Spurs in the playoffs, you'd really hate to get beat by the Suns.


ryan b said...

Yeah, I think I've already decided I'd rather us face the Spurs than the Suns in the playoffs. We couldn't stop anything against them! Those shooting percentages were ridiculous. Was it our poor defense, or were the Suns just really on fire...for the past two games they played us?

scoots said...

From what I could tell (and from a couple of quotes I saw after the game), I think they just put three 3-point shooters around the perimeter and put either Stoudemire or Diaw in the middle. So you can leave the shooters to double Amare, but the Suns hit 57% of their 3-pointers on Sunday. Or you can guard Amare one-on-one, but then he hit 77% of his shots.

This is where Dirk doesn’t have the same kind of dominance as a guy like Duncan or Shaq or Amare. When Dirk is on, he’ll hit 55% of his shots no matter who you put on him. But he’ll never hit every shot. These other post players, though, can score every time down the court if you don’t bring a double team, because they’re getting 5-footers. And with Phoenix, the perimeter players shoot too well to leave them for a double-team. You just have to hope their shooting goes cold or they start turning the ball over (both of which happen sometimes).

Dallas’ perimeter shooting was even better than Phoenix’s for most of the game Sunday––they ended up at 50% on 3-pointers, which would scare almost any team in the leage. But Dallas got outscored in the paint something like 50–15, and you can’t win when you do that.

The nice thing about losing to the Spurs is, at least they don’t look like they’re enjoying it when they beat you.

Hey Ryan--did you notice I used the word obviously in both of my last two posts? I didn’t even mean to.