Greetings from Hollinger HQ everyone. We're building up to the playoff race, and with the top of each league looking as even as it's been in a long time, we've got plenty to talk about in both conferences.
Why do you hate the Mavericks so much?
Good morning to you too. Today's PER Diem tackles the Mavs in some depth so I don't want to give away the store here, but suffice it to say they have a lot of close wins against bad teams, so the Power Rankings don't see them as particularly "hot" despite the 13-game win streak.
John, how do you think the Nuggets match up with the new-look Mavs in a potential 2nd-round series?
Great. Denver beat Dallas 127-91 a month ago, although the Mavs were burned by the schedule in that one (back to back coming from Golden State). Even with the Marion pick-up, the athleticism difference between the two is still pretty glaring. If I'm the Mavs, Denver is the one team I absolutely want to avoid in the postseason.
John, assuming the worst, could K-Mart's injury be a blessing in disguise or am I just being too optimistic? Johan Petro seems like a guy with a bunch of untapped potential.
Yes, you're being too optimistic, and the "untapped" part is the thing that's kept him from being a rotation player. He'll be OK on D but he's a 5, not a 4, so that affects some match-ups; he also has terrible offensive instincts.
Last year, you called Dragic arguably the worst player in the NBA. Tell me how surprised you are with him this year, on a scale of 1 (not surprised) to 10 (holy double hockey sticks Batman!)?
9.5. I talked about this last week, but the change in his shooting stroke ... I mean, there was just no way to see that coming, and it's opened up his whole game. Other thing that's helped is that he's getting some burn at the 2; I've always thought he's more natural there than the 1.
What exactly is Hollinger HQ like? I'm imagining Gordon Gekko's office in Wall Street.
Unfortunately, it probably looks a lot like any other two-story suburban house in any other nondescript subdivision. It's the subterranean cave complex that really sets it apart.
Would you say that Bogut should be receiving more credit for what he does? He has been an anchor for the Bucks the whole year. Bogut also is averaging over 3.5 blocks since All-Star break. Does Bogut deserve more recognition considering his defensive presence?
Bogut would make the All-Star team if they re-did the voting today, but he was harmed by the perception of the Buck' as a "losing" team at the time, which is reason # 2,467 why the coaches' overemphasis on W-L in All-Star picks makes no sense.
With the Hawks struggles against the Magic, should Hawks fans hope for a four seed to take on Cleveland in round 2? By the way, check out J-Smoove's stat line month by month this season.
Smoove has been great since the All-Star break, no argument there. As for facing Cleveland, have you checked out how the Hawks have done against the Cavs the past couple years? There's not a desirable match-up to be found here, unless your crystal ball thinks LeBron won't be healthy in May.
Is it possible that the Mavs unusual 'fortune' in close games has to do with having 2 of the top 5 players in 4th quarter scoring AND having the best FT shooting team??
The first item may be as much effect as cause -- in other words, they have the leading fourth quarter scorers because they play so many close games and never end up pulling their starters. As for the FT shooting, I've seen no correlation between that and teams outperforming their expected W-L based on scoring margin.
Is Tyreke Evans locked to be ROY?
I'd think so -- he was pretty darned impressive last night against the Raps. Curry is probably going to come in second but he'd only have a prayer of winning if GS was a playoff team because his numbers don't stack up with Evans'.
If you were really into basketball, you would know that not only Marion but also Haywood, Caron, Stevenson and Beaubois add to Mavericks' athleticism.
Beaubois yes. The other guys, not so much. I'm not sure Stevenson can even touch the rim these days.
John, suffice to say the window has closed, no? If so, it's been a great run. If there is still a crack open, how can the Spurs still contend amongst the elite? Not this year, but next? Or are they staring at 23 win seasons in the near future?
I'd say it's shut this year. They might be able to pry it open a bit next year if they can convert Jefferson's expiring deal into a real player, but that's going to require taking on money, which is sort of the classic "treadmill" strategy of an old team trying to hang on -- it rarely works. Disappointing for Spurs fans because they squeezed one more good year from Duncan, but the rest of the framework just wasn't there.
Monta needs to go right? or will the warriors be the warriors and trade curry?
Monta always goes right. Oh, you mean he need to go .... right? Yes, I think so. His trade value won't get any higher in the current arrangement and he's not a good backcourt partner with Curry because of the defensive liability they represent. I'm amazed they turned down the Mayo deal. A-Mazed.
Any reason why Rasheed has been so disappointing this year in Boston?
You mean besides the fact he's out of shape and has no desire to absorb any contact on the block? Sheed did the same thing in Detroit last year, but the thought was that playing on a contender would rejuvenate him. Guess not.
From a subjective standpoint, who do you consider the best shooter all-time and is there anyone you were surprise not to see on your "best shooters ever" list?
I thought Nash would be first among current players, I just wasn't sure where he'd place among all-timers. Subjectively, I think Calvin Murphy or Rick Barry might have been better, but we didn't have the metrics to evaluate them for this study. As for as surprises, Dell Curry. He just missed the top 20; I thought he'd be in the top dozen easily. Also, Kiki Vandeweghe missed because he didn't have enough career 3s, but he would have been seventh if he'd met the threshold.
Is it time to move Mike Bibby to the bench in favor of either Crawford or even Teague? He has looked absolutely horrid on defense this year and he isn't providing much on offense.
I was joking with somebody from Boston at the Geekapalooza conference about how the Celtics screwed up by getting Bibby in foul trouble the last time the teams played -- so Crawford ended up playing 39 minutes and destroying them. I still would choose Bibby over Teague, but Woodson is going to seriously need to consider altering his rotation to get Jamal more minutes in the playoffs.
Do you think theres a chance of D-Wade going home to Chicago next year? between Noah, Rose and even Deng it seems like the pieces could all go together smoothely?
You noticed that too? Yes, I think the Bulls are a very legitimate threat for Wade, especially if the Heat can't lure another prime free agent to join him in Miami.
Should I consider myself a criminal, getting paid 50 million over the next few years?
I was thinking more that we should consider your agent a genius. I liked how Hedo would have fit in Portland, but in retrospect the Blazers dodged a major bullet with this one. What's funny is that Otis Smith called the Blazers and told them the same thing afterward...
Knicks writers are killing D'Antoni. Is there a real chance he walks away on the summer? To Chicago, for example?
None whatsoever. He's one of the league's highest-paid coaches and he's about to get his payoff from the past two years of misery in the form of major free agents (he hopes). No way he goes.
Any chance the Thunder reach round 2? Which teams could they beat in Round 1?
I think they have a puncher's chance with Durant, but I want to see the match-up before I endorse them much beyond that. It will be the first playoff series for all their key players except Collison, Krstic and Sefolosha, so it's possible they'll be down 2-0 before they know what hit them.
How many wins for the Lakers, Mavs and Nuggets? I get 59, 56.5 and 56.5, respectively, with the #2 seed going to whichever team wins the 3/29 game.
Says here 58, 54, and 54, with Utah also joining them at 54. Note that Dallas could be seeded no worse than third, even if Denver and Utah both end up with the tie-break (Utah has it already, Denver will too if they win the 3/29 game).
Any chance the Milwaukee Bucks could make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs this year?
I touch on this in today's Per Diem, but I think they are by far the most dangerous of the low seeds in the East, and if they draw Boston in the first round I think they have a great chance of pulling the upset.
John - We know the Blazers play the Lakers tough in the regular season, do they have any chance in Round 1 with a healthy Roy and Camby?
They play them tough in Portland ... but the problem is that four of the games will be in Los Angeles. I think the match-up Portland would really want is Dallas -- they've already won twice in their building. Second choice is probably Denver, because I don't think the Blazers can win in L.A. and Utah absolutely owns them.
John, true or false in their absolute best years, t-mac and kobe were equals?
Offensively, yes. Biggest difference between the two, as far as their peak 2-3 years, was durability and defense.
Most of us in Cleveland would love to avoid Charlotte in the first round. Who do you see being the biggest pests in the Magic's road to the ECF?
Probably Boston, oddly enough -- Celtics defense has always bothered the Magic. As far as the first round, the other one I'd throw out there is Miami, who has already beaten Orlando twice. I don't think the Heat would beat them, but they'd make it interesting.
John, as a Dallas fan I'm scared that we end up drawing Portland. They've owned us 2 times this year in our building and I think match-ups favor them. Should I be?
I wrote about this a bit in today's PER Diem, but I think you're right on target. Dallas would much rather draw San Antonio, and would probably also prefer OKC or Phoenix.
John, let's say you were forced to build a team around a position, not player. What position would you choose and why?
Center, just because of the scarcity factor. Teams overpay for even mediocre centers. If you have a good one, especially if he's on a reasonable contract, you have a major advantage since you won't have to pay as much to fill the other four positions.
Can the Jazz get past either the Lakers or Denver in the postseason? I think they can beat Denver, but I don't see how they beat the Lakers.
I don't see how they beat L.A. either, I don't like that match-up at all for Utah. Denver, by the way, isn't a walk through the tulips for them either. It's odd -- Utah is playing better than anyone in the conference, but you look at the season series and you realize how match-up dependent they are -- they really struggle against L.A., Denver and OKC, and they just crush everyone else.
Looking back at the trade deadline, do you think Boston regrets not trading Allen for Heinrich, Boston justs looks old and they will not have any cap space this summer to sign some young guys.
No, Boston regrets not pestering Sacramento more aggressively about Kevin Martin -- that was the guy who could have made a real difference for them. They could have added Nocioni too, who is worthless for Sac but would have made a real impact for Boston... as well as making them even more hated in opposing locker rooms, if that was possible.
Please tell me Eddie Jordan and Ed Stefanski will be fired after the season ... or before the season ends ... I'm not picky as long as neither are here next season.
Stefanski to me is a victim of Elton Brand's sudden mediocrity combined with the Sixers' lack of financial wiggle room; his draft picks have been solid and his other moves made sense. (No, I don't have a big problem with Iggy's contract). His one big mistake was hiring Jordan, which was a comfort move based on their familiarity from New Jersey but wasn't the best guy available ... as he's clearly proven. I think Jordan is about 99% likely to go; Stefanski's status is more uncertain.
Bull injuries are staggering, are they done as far as making the playoffs?
Fortunately for them, the Raptors have been just as bad. The Playoff Odds pretty much see it as a two-team race between those two, even though the standings remain packed tightly, because of schedule considerations and because Toronto and Chicago are playing so much worse than the others.
It's not that the Mavs win streak is at 13, its how many more they will win in a row. What's your prediction and how are you not a believer in the Mavs the way they are playing and still winning with so many injuries?
They'll be favored in their next five games by the Power Rankings, which would take the streak to 18 before they lose to Portland on March 25.
Tell the truth, John. Have you ever even watched the Mavericks this year?
I guess you didn't read my report from the Kidd-meets-Woodson game in Atlanta. I've only seen them in person once, the Atlanta game -- I tend not to get to Dallas since Stein is based there -- but have seen them several times on the tube and will catch them in Portland later this year.
Where is today's PER Diem? I only see yesterday's.
Patience, it's coming....
Only three teams in the west have a better road record than Utah. Are you as shocked as I am?
Pretty much, especially the way things went down at the end of last year. And if this is THAT Brian Skinner, great presentation at Geekapalooza. The league needs more theoretical physicists.
Did the Celtics get old collectively over night? They were playing arguably the best basketball of any team in the league around Christmas, including a great win in Orlando without KG, and then since then ... complete collapse.
That's been the trend line the entire KG era -- Boston goes out like gangbusters and then hits a wall around Christmas. Each year they've hit it progressively harder; this may be the year it makes a splat sound.
How dare you John create a statistical evaluation of every team that is so batantly biased against the Mavs? That must have taken a stroke of genius to fairly evaluate the other teams while having them show poorly.
The really hard part was figuring out ahead of time what the Mavs would do and having the system pre-rigged to work against them. I spent hundreds of hours on that part alone.
This is the '06-'07 season all over again for you isn't it, in regards to Mavs fans? How did that post-season turnout again?
Don't say that -- we have no guarantee how this one will turn out. I'm just surprised that they're not tiptoeing more gingerly this time based on past history ... did their entire fan base turn over in three years?
Would a coach ever lose on purpose to get a lower seed for a better matchup? If somehow McMillian could throw a game to play Dallas instead of Utah/Denver, would he do that? I think pride alone would keep that from happening. But you're right about match-ups...last year Portland drew their worst match-up by far with Houston (w/ Artest & Yao)
It's happened -- in April 2006 the Clippers started a joke lineup against Memphis so they could slip to No. 6 and draw Denver in the first round instead of Dallas. That caused the league to revise its "division champions automatically get a top-three seed" rule.
People are amazed by the recent play of Bayless but I think that D.J. Augustin will be the better player in the future. Do you concur?
You won't find one person in Charlotte, dead or alive, who agrees. He has regressed in a major way this season.
John, in case you hadn't realized this yet, Mavs fans are prideful people. After the most successful decade any sports franchise has ever had without a ring, all we want is for you to say something positive about our team. Will you please do us that honor?
You have a great owner, one of the best power forwards of all time, and Rick Carlisle deserves coach of the year consideration. And you ARE most definitely better because of the trade ... you're just not the only team that improved.
Why do the playoff odds favor Orlando over Cleveland? Cavs will have home court. I know that didn't matter last year, but most people would agree that the Cavs have solved the matchup issues against them this time around.
I presume this isn't THAT Jay Guidinger, but either way I'm impressed by the screen name. As for Cleveland, the Playoff Odds don't play the "match-ups" game to that extent -- it just looks at a straight "Orlando has a better power rating than Cleveland, so they win XX% of the time" type of probability.
John wrote in regard to the Mavs:After the most successful decade any sports franchise has ever had without a ring,I think some Viking fans in the 1970s and Bills fans in the 1990s might disagree.
I think what he said probably isn't literally true, but he's pretty much on track with the idea -- the list of teams that have been so consistently successful without winning a ring is pretty small.
Has Kurt Rambis officially lost his mind, yes Kevin Love finally got 20+ minutes but still he had him 1 on 1 vs MELO!!! UGH, what hope do us Wolves fans have?
I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's "experimenting" with a young team ... but at some point experimenting looks more like flailing. His recent usage of Love leaves me perplexed.
It's almost worse to be a Mavs fan than, say, a Clippers fan. We're like starving dogs and we get to smell the steak every year right before it's taken away and fed to the annoying little chihuahua down the street. At least the Clippers fan's know to just give up and go eat something else rather than ever expect steak.
I think the Suns fans can relate to that one too. Probably the league's two most star-crossed franchises that way... and they could meet in the first round.
What team will you be rooting for come playoffs?
We don't root for teams; we root for desirable travel arrangements. So an Atlanta-Portland Finals moves to the top of my list, followed by cities with walkable downtowns, convenient connections on Delta, and friends nearby.
Karl Malone. John Stockton. 20 years of great playoff basketball, no ring. dont complain to us dallas.
Yep, forgot about Utah there.
Have you tried imputing post trade deadline (and roster changes) performance to the pre trade schedules in order to re-calibrate your Power Rankings? If so, do the rankings change?
This is worth posting just for the word "imputing." Basically, the difference between Mavs play pre- and post-trade, once you adjust for opposition, home-court, etc., isn't different enough to distinguish it from random in-season noise. Subjectively, of course they're better. Scientifically, you'd have a hard time differentiating the past 14 games from other randomly selected 14-game stretches.
Folks, that's all the time I have, but thanks again for the great questions. Per Diem should be up in a jiffy here.