Friday, May 04, 2007

Party in Oakland, recriminations in Dallas

What a failure by the Mavericks. Humiliations galore.

After a 67-win season, the Mavs are the first #1 seed to honk against a #8 in a best-of-seven series. From the simply ugly files: the Mavs took an 18-point beating in game 3 and a 25-point thrashing in game 6. At halftime last night, the Warriors led 50-48. After dueling three-pointers, the Warriors were up 62-57 about 1/3 of the way through the third period. Then the Warriors rattled off an 18-0 run that wiped out the Mavs' season.

But it gets worse -- check this out from the Elias Sports Bureau:

The Dallas-Golden State series was the 20th in NBA playoffs history in which one team had at least 25 more wins than the other in the regular season. Not only are the Warriors the first underdog to win such a series, but the previous 19 teams combined to win only six games, and none of those teams won more than one game in the series.


Consider this: in the history of baseball, the largest win differential between the World Series champ and its vanquished foe that had more wins during the regular season is 23 -- the 1906 ChiSox won 93 games, the Cubs won 116 and the Palehos won the series in 6. In the modern era, the difference is vastly smaller -- the 1954 Giants won 97, the Indians won 111 and the Giants swept the Series. Closer still in the divisional era -- the 1974 A's, 1990 Reds and 2006 Cards all won 12 fewer games than the teams they beat in the World Series (Dodgers, A's and Tigers, respectively).

The NBA season is 82 games, about 1/2 as long as a baseball season. Charting out the Mavs and Warriors to baseball records means Dallas would have been about 133-29, Golden State 83-79. That's a fifty win difference. That's the baseball equivalent of the upset the Oaklanders finished last night. Simply stated, this is a colossal upset and easily the biggest in NBA history.

Now the recriminations begin. In Dallas, the finger-pointing is aimed at Dirk Nowitzki, the team's top player, probable MVP and face of the franchise. He stank last night (2-13, 6 points) and underperformed in the series. But ultimately, this failure falls on coach Avery Johnson. He's the strategist who sent out a small-ball lineup in game 1 and signaled to his team that it would have to adjust to the Warriors, not the other way around (UCLA's John Wooden famously prepared his teams only for their own strategies, not the opponent's, because he wanted the team to impose its will on the game and force the other to adjust). Johnson never forced his team to drive and post up on the Warriors, a much smaller and less physically powerful team than the Mavs. Instead, the Mavs settled for jumpshots, the Warriors used their quickness to disrupt the perimeter game, and spread the court to keep the Mavs running on defense -- pure Phoenix lite. Golden State was the better team in five of the six games (only losing game 5 on a furious Dallas comeback). That's not been said before about a #8 seed playing the #1.

No comments: