Friday, November 02, 2007


Congratulations to the Spurs on getting their rings for last season. There may have been a few people that were surprised at the Spurs winning out, but those people are the ones that don't understand basketball very well...

There was really only one upset during the playoffs: Golden State defeating Dallas.* All other series either had teams of similar skill levels, or ended with the better team being victorious. The same thing seems likely to happen again this season--San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix were superior to every other team in the league. Then, there was a second tier of teams: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Utah, and Houston. Then, there's everyone else. (Golden State exceeded expectations.) This coming season, Boston will likely join the second tier, becoming a popular pick to even reach the Finals, but the end results should look essentially the same. Anybody else that manages to reach the playoffs will almost certainly lose in the first round.

And yet, we will still hold a full 82-game season anyway. The regular season is a lot more tolerable if I instead think of it as the "NBA Qualifying Round"; similar to how individual continental federations hold competitions in the run up to the World Cup. The best teams will generally win during the season, but like Argentina or Brazil, sometimes a team like San Antonio will coast for weeks at a time, knowing that each individual game doesn't matter too much. Of course, there is an incentive to finish first--not only does it provide home-court advantage in each round of the playoffs, but it means that a team can dodge the tough 2v3 matchup in the second round, which proved fatal for Detroit last year--Cleveland faced a much easier opponent (New Jersey) than Chicago and Detroit, which played each other. The same thing could have happened in the West, had Dallas not been the unfortunate team to have been upset.

In keeping with that pattern, look for San Antonio** to dispatch Boston in five next June.

*In fact, with only one other exception, each time a team played an inferior opponent, the series lasted five games or less. In every match of relatively even teams, the series lasted no fewer than six games.

**Or Dallas. Really, the bigger match will be San Antonio over Dallas in seven in the Western Conference Finals.


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