Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 Western Conference Finals

(1) San Antonio Spurs versus (2) Oklahoma City Thunder

As weird as the playoffs have been, the west has been relatively predictable. The one-seed will play the two-seed for the rights to play in the finals, and that top seed is heavily favored. I don't know if everyone has caught on to how good these spurs are, however. The so-called NBA statnerds have noticed the dominating brilliance of the Spurs in the last 40 or so games. To illustrate I made the graph below. It shows a five-game rolling average, which means the average point differential of the past five games, over the entire season with some key points included. The 40 point loss to Portland, for instance, came when few of the rotation players were even on the court, and consequently their average took a dive.

Notice how great they've been in the latter half of the season. A 10-point differential is historic, and anything approaching 20 is unheard of. Suffice it to say I don't think these Spurs are going to have a problem. The weirdest part of all this is that the Spurs really took off when they acquired Diaw, a guy who played his way off arguably the worst team of all-time with his bad play. Diaw, however, is definitely a useful player, but more so on a good team: he refuses to shoot sometimes and instead will pass, which is great on a team who can actually shoot. He's also a surprisingly good defender and an upgrade over the short and unathletic Blair. Ginobili is actually an important piece, and when healthy he gives the Spurs an excellent weapon on a team that's already offensively great. Sorry Thunder. Work on your defense and try again next year. At least you're young.

Prediction: Spurs in 5.
Random prediction: One game will feature both teams over 120 points. Boring Spurs? Not so much.

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