Tag Archives: Dallas Mavericks

East vs. West Week 3: Rough road trips for Brooklyn, Charlotte

Among other teams to take road trips out west, Brooklyn and Charlotte each had a rough go of it in Week 3 (and in Week 2). They went a combined 1-7, including 1-5 last week with the only win between the two coming from Charlotte over Phoenix on Friday night. The West’s struggles largely came from Utah and Oklahoma City, together going 1-5 including the latter team losing to Detroit on Friday.

Overall, the West went 12-7 in Week 3. That includes Thursday’s 53-point victory by Dallas over Philadelphia, who just had to go through the brutal Texas Triangle this season. You can see how that Mavs blowout screws with Pythagorean records:

Taking out Dallas’ victory, the West had a point differential of just 1.22 over the other 18 games and a Pythagorean record of 9.8-8.2. Kind of amazing what a difference one game can make. Over the course of an entire season, I’d like to believe enormous victories are balanced out with the occasional “upset”. Even if we’re taking into account point differentials of multiple teams versus just one.

Here’s how Week 4 looks:

week4

Week 4 brings 21 non-conference games with the West being repped in 10 of those by Phoenix, the Clippers, and San Antonio. Dallas, Portland, and Memphis take up six more games. Boston and Chicago have three games each for the East while Brooklyn, Cleveland and, um, Philadelphia play West foes twice. The East has a 13-8 edge in home/away games, so maybe that’s enough to prevent a solid week for the West.

Week 4 has a lot of fun matchups, though. In the meantime, I’m going to try and add some more posts this week. (Edit: Yeah that didn’t go well…)

Updated point distributions in graphs

About a month ago, I fiddled around with graphs visualizing how many points a team scores from specific shot locations. While it was something I enjoyed working on, there wasn’t a whole lot of space to include both GIFs and pictures while looking at the difference between a squad’s offense and defense. Back then, I went with GIFs but now I’ll include some photos of the graphs with updated percentages.

I also left off effective field goal percentage this time around so I wouldn’t flood a post with a ton of huge pictures. What’s left is a percentage of points a team scores at six areas on the floor: restricted area, in the paint (non-RA), mid-range, corner three, above the break three, and free throws.

In the future I’ll experiment more with these types of graphs, but for now these are the ones for each team over the entire season, both on offense and defense. They’ll probably appear blurry but clicking on the picture, then zooming in helps a ton.

Also, below the picture are links to team graphs for offense only and defense only. Enjoy, hopefully:

offense-defense

Offense-only graphs.

Defense-only graphs.

Similar to what I mentioned in the first post, the graphs for the best and worst offenses and defenses just aren’t the same as one another. Take the Heat, Clippers, and Mavericks as the top three offenses, for example. Thanks to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Miami scores a ton of their points in the restricted area — 36.5 percent, to be exact and fourth-highest in the league. Meanwhile, the Clippers are near the middle in point distribution from a few locations, but with the help of Blake Griffin they get just under one-fifth of their points from the free throw line. Dallas, with a nightmare of a scorer to gameplan for in Dirk Nowitzki, is weirdly balanced in all locations as they don’t appear too high or low in any of them.

Defenses are more similar as Indiana and Chicago both concede a bunch of points from mid-range. The Spurs and Warriors, in third and fourth place in defensive efficiency, respectively, have similar mid-range portions of the graph but allow more points in the paint (non-RA) region than the top two teams. Overall, it would seem like offenses would want their offenses to shift as far to the left side of the graph as possible and the opposite for defense.

I’ll actually admit these graphs are slightly misleading, one reason being that corner threes don’t jump out in them but are nonetheless important to team success. Attempts per location looked about the same and points per location was slightly different when comparing offense to defense. In the future, though, I’ll sort by the latter stat but I had a really weird time calculating it last night and this morning and ran out of time to put those graphs together.

Lastly, below are two tables of the top and bottom five teams in point distribution for each shot location. One table is for offense and the other for defense, starting with the former:

All stats, including ones used for tables and graphs, are according to NBA.com. 

A follow up on the Celtics, Lakers, and what only the 2007 Mavericks have done to them

celticslogo_history3

I think I made my new Twitter avatar?

The first related post can be found here.

Nearly four months ago (!!!), both the Celtics and Lakers came into the season with very average expectations, even the possibility each could contend for a top-3 pick in this summer’s draft. Only in 1994 had both teams come close to such an occasion, when Larry Bird was two seasons into retirement and one season before a brief comeback by Magic Johnson.

But even during that season, no team accomplished the near-impossible feat of winning more games than the Celtics and Lakers combined. It’s only happened once, back in 2007 when the Dallas Mavericks won 67 games to Los Angeles’ (41-41) and Boston’s (24-58) combined 65.

It’s difficult enough to say one team could win more than any random two combined, let alone two of the most storied franchises, but right now the current chances are as good as ever. Below is table with teams with either more wins than the Celtics and Lakers combined or within reach.

 

The Lakers (18-35) are on their last legs with a depleted roster missing Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and even Nick Young and others while Boston (19-35) has won four of their last six, but are 6-17 in 2014 overall. The trade deadline also looms with an outside chance each franchise parts with key players, either the Lakers with Pau Gasol or the Celtics with Rajon Rondo. They also have other tradable pieces and, of course, the chance to acquire more lottery balls.

Another similar, weird accomplishment came in 1997 when the Clippers won more than the Celtics and Spurs. Maybe one day we’ll look back at 2014 when a few teams won more than the Celtics and Lakers, which is incredible in itself as both are bound to reload through the draft and free agency, but we could also say the same about a team winning more than the collective total of two teams like the Pelicans and 76ers.

Week 16 in non-conference play: Wednesday’s losses put East under .500 for the week

On Monday I predicted the East could win as many as 10 games against the West this week, mostly thanks to 10 of the 16 games heading into the all-star break taking place at their home courts (Indiana with two of them) and Miami on the road against foes from the Pacific Division. It started off as expected with the East going 6-2 heading into Wednesday, the last day of non-conference games before a much-needed league-wide breather. Eight non-conference games were left and the East hosted six of them.

And then the 10-win prediction fell apart. The Knicks melted down in yet another game, this time against Sacramento. Raymond Felton just might’ve sleepwalked through the whole game, which would’ve fit perfectly with how Philadelphia performed this week. Meanwhile, Washington continued playing .500 ball to a T, Indiana took a step back, Memphis held on against Orlando despite a scary fall from Marc Gasol, and so much more disappointments happened in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday.

Only Miami won, thanks to one of LeBron Jamesmost amazing shots yet. The East ended the 16th week 7-9, though slowly but surely they’re chipping at away at what two months ago was an unprecedented level of stink against the West. Below is the updated week-by-week breakdown:

Toronto, with the help of the rising DeMar DeRozan, became the third team to win 10 games against the West, so there’s that too. They’re 28-24 overall, good for the third-fricken-place. Only one other team outside of the Raptors, Pacers, and Heat has even nine or more wins against the West, which is the Nets. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is 1-19 in non-conference play. FUN.

Below is a table showing each team’s standings and how many non-conference games they have remaining for the rest of the season:

The East is fairly balanced, with only the Nets having more than 11 games left against the West. That’s going to change next week with a road trip, though it’s one of the more friendly ones possible. There’s also the possibility Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal are matched up against each other in some good ol’ late-90s early-2000s nostalgia.

Here’s the Week 17 non-conference schedule:

Brooklyn, New Orleans, and Dallas all play three non-conference games this week. Each has a decent chance at finishing 2-1. For the Mavs and Nets, that’s obviously important to their respective playoff races, and it’s amazing that Dirk Nowitzki can still carry a team to possibly 50 wins.

As for the rest of the games, I’m done predicting them after how last week turned out. The trade deadline looms anyway when guys like Pau Gasol, Omer Asik could further beef up contenders out West or allow a legitimate third seed out East to take place.

There’s also this thing called the All-Star Game this weekend (!!!). If Joe Johnson leads the East in a blowout over the West, it should count as 100 non-conference wins, though that would only put them a shade over .500 for the season.

The Texas Triangle and its neighboring franchises

A week ago, the Portland Trail Blazers finished their first road trip through the Texas Triangle since 2007, playing consecutive games on the road against the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets. They survived, which is always a question when teams travel to the Lone Star State for three games over a handful of days. Portland even had a chance to sweep after impressive wins over the Spurs and Mavericks, but they couldn’t muster enough defense to contain a Rockets squad, one that was missing Terrence Jones.

Overall, Portland finished a respectable 2-1. So too did the New York Knicks, who finished their trip through the Texas Triangle three weekends ago.

At least a couple teams each year (2.8 to be exact since 2000) play a combination of the Mavericks, Spurs, and Rockets in consecutive games with the results often disastrous. 42 trips have been made through the Texas Triangle since 2000 with 17 ending in three straight losses. Only nine finished with two or more wins with two leaving with a sweep: the 2002 Sacramento Kings and 2008 Boston Celtics. Since 2000, teams are a combined 30-96 against the Texas Triangle, good for a winning percentage of 28.6.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of their performance against the three Texas teams since 2000, when the West became the premier conference. (Any feedback on how that table looks is appreciated. Trying something new here.)

You might notice some teams missing from that table, specifically six from the East and four from the West. The Bobcats have been lucky enough (especially in 2012) to not slog through a road trip in Texas. Miami last went through the Texas Triangle in 1996 while Cleveland, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Toronto all went through it in 1997. For the West, Denver last took the trip in 1991, Phoenix in 1993, Charlotte/New Orleans in 1997, and the Lakers in 1998. The Lakers actually swept the Texas Triangle that year without Kobe Bryant for all three games, though Dallas was significantly weaker back then. They had neither Steve Nash nor Dirk Nowitzki and finished the season 20-62.

You might also notice the franchises neighboring Texas avoiding the daunting road trip. A factor that impacts scheduling in general, some teams go through the Texas Triangle more or less than others because of geography. Memphis, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans haven’t made the trip since moving from Vancouver, Seattle, and Charlotte, respectively. Also, like mentioned before, Denver and Phoenix haven’t made the road trip in over 20 seasons.

That’s a nice edge to have over the rest of the league, especially for the Grizzlies who went through the Texas Triangle four times in their final two seasons in Vancouver. Another benefit comes from the teams closest to Texas often included in road trips featuring the Mavs, Spurs, and/or Rockets. Portland finished their road trip not with the Texas Triangle but a road loss to Oklahoma City, and from March 7 to March 14 they’ll have another road trip of Dallas-Houston-Memphis-San Antonio-New Orleans. Had New Orleans not been rattled by injuries, the road trips to the that region of the league would only be more brutal than they already are.

Sure, that also means the Southwest Division is more competitive than others, but it’s more of a problem for the entire West with how each team plays each conference foe at least three times per season. Had divisions led to Dallas, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, and San Antonio playing each other six times instead of four, then there might be a problem. 

Right now there just isn’t any other area like Texas and its neighbors just north or east of them. A west coast trip often has Utah or Sacramento to capitalize on. The northern, central area of the league has Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Detroit to feed off of. The entire Atlantic Division has been a mess this year while the southeast has Orlando and Charlotte in rebuilding mode. New Orleans is the only weak link of the south, but they could luck into a top-5 pick next year and already hold one of the best young prospects in Anthony Davis.

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