Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Magic’

Legitimate Contenders in the NBA [2008-2009]: Part I

December 16, 2008

The 2008-2009 NBA regular season schedule has reached the 1/4 pole, as all 30 teams have played at least 20 games. Given the history of this league and …

What it takes to win the NBA Championship

… it is helpful to evaluate where they rank against one another at this juncture.

QUALITY RATING & QUALITY INDEX RANKING

NBA 2008-2009
[as of Mon Dec 15 2008]

Team

W/L

Win%

PDR

PAR

RDR

QR

QIR

EC

WC

Cavaliers

20/4

.833

1

1

3

5

1

2

 

Celtics

23/2

.920

3

2

1

6

2

1

 

Hornets

13/7

.650

6

3

10

19

3

 

4

Blazers

15/10

.600

10

9

1

20

T-4

 

7

Rockets

15/9

.625

8

5

7

20

T-4

 

5

Lakers

20/3

.870

2

14

6

22

6

 

1

Spurs

15/8

.652

7

6

11

24

7

 

3

76ers

10/14

.417

16

8

4

28

 

11

 

Jazz

15/11

.577

9

11

9

29

8

 

8

Mavericks

13/10

.625

11

16

7

34

 

 

9

 

Nuggets

17/7

.708

4

15

16

35

9

 

2

Hawks

15/9

.625

12

7

17

36

10

4

 

Magic

19/6

.760

5

10

24

39

11

3

 

Bucks

11/15

.423

18

17

5

40

 

10

 

Pistons

13/9

.591

14

12

22

48

12

5

 

Suns

15/10

.600

13

22

14

49

13

 

6

Bobcats

7/18

.280

24

4

22

50

 

14

 

Heat

12/12

.500

15

13

25

53

14

7

 

Nets

12/11

.522

20

24

12

56

15

6

 

Bulls

11/12

.478

17

21

18

56

16

8

 

 

Pacers

8/16

.333

21

25

13

59

 

13

 

Grizzlies

9/15

.375

22

18

19

59

 

 

10

Timberwolves

4/20

.167

28

23

14

65

 

 

14

Clippers

6/17

.261

25

19

25

69

 

 

13

Raptors

10/14

.417

23

20

30

73

 

12

 

Thunder

2/23

.080

30

26

20

76

 

 

15

Knicks

11/13

.458

19

29

28

76

 

9

 

Kings

7/18

.280

29

28

20

77

 

 

11

Wizards

4/18

.182

27

27

27

81

 

15

 

Warriors

7/18

.261

26

30

29

85

 

 

12

Legend:
W-L – Won Loss Record; Win% – Winning Percentage; PDR – Points Differential Rank; PAR – Points Allowed Rank; RDR – Rebound Differential Rank; QR – Quality Rating; QIR – Quality Index Ranking; EC – Eastern Conference Playoff Position; WC – Western Conference Playoff Position 

Note:
1. Since 2000-2001 each NBA Champion and Finalist has had a QR ≤ 34.
2. Since 2000-2001 each NBA Champion has had a QIR ≤ #9.
3. Since 2000-2001 7 of the 8 NBA Champions have had a QIR ≤ #4. 

Take note of where your favourite team stands today … and where it will need to get to, over the course of the next five months, in order to be considered a legit contender for the 2009 NBA Championship.

NBA’s upper echelon begins to emerge

November 28, 2008

The NBA’s regular season schedule is now in full swing with each team having played a minimum of 13 games.

As was mentioned earlier in this space, there are three tiers of teams in this League that reveal themselves on an annual basis:

1. HIGH END [above a .549 Win %]
2. MIDDLE-of-the-Pack [between a .450-.549 Win %]
3. LOW END [below a .450 Win %]

At this point, here’s what each team’s W-L record is, in conjunction with their respective Rebounding Differential Ranking [which regular readers here know is a crucial factor towards playoff success]:

HIGH END

1 LA Lakers 12-1/.923; +5.00/#3
2 Boston 14-2/.875; +3.43/#7
3 Cleveland 12-3/.750; +4.33/#5
4 Phoenix 11-5/.688; -0.25/#14
T5 Detroit 9-5/.643; +0.92/#11
T5 Atlanta 9-5/.643; -0.42/#16
T5 Orlando 12-4/.643; -0.37/#15
T5 New Orleans 9-5/.643; +0.07/#13
T9 Utah 10-6/.625; +3.50/#6
T9 Portland 10-6/.625; +4.37/#4
T9 Houston 10-6/.625; +2.06/#9
T9 Denver 10-6/.625; -0.43/#17
13 San Antonio 8-6/.571; -2.28/#24 *

MIDDLE

T14 Dallas 7-7/.500; +3.07/#8
T14 New Jersey 7-7/.500; +0.21/#12
T14 Toronto 7-7/.500; -2.14/#23
T17 Miami 7-8/.467; -5.26/#28
T17 Philadelphia 6-7/.467; +6.33/#1
T17 New York 7-8/.467; -7.20/#30

LOW END

20 Chicago 7-9/.438; -1.31/#19
21 Indiana 6-8/.429; +1.00/#10
22 Milwaukee 7-10/.412; +5.58/#2
23 Golden State 5-10/.333; -3.20/#26
24 Sacramento 5-12/.294; -1.64/#20
25 Memphis 4-11/.267; -2.40/#25
26 Charlotte 4-10/.286; -2.07/#22
27 Minnesota 3-10/.231; -1.30/#18
28 Washington 2-11/.154; -3.46/#27
29 LA Clippers/2-13/.133; -5.53/#29
30 Oklahoma City 1-15/.063; -1.81/#21

* Have played mostly without Ginobili-M and Parker-T, thus far.

Rebounding Differential Rankings in the NBA [Nov 6]

November 7, 2008

When this corner of the sports blogosphere told you earlier this fall/summer that the Raptors trade for Jermaine O’Neal was not going to be enough, by itself, to fundamentally improve Toronto’s Rebounding Deficiency from the last few seasons there were boatloads of delusional fans some who did not want to believe this specific assessment of this team, in advance of actually seeing real live NBA games this season with their own two eyes.

—————–

How could the acquisition of a former 6-time NBA All-Star …

in exchange for a smallish, erractic [but talented] Point Guard [i.e. TJ Ford], an over-the-hill, lumbering, strictly speaking part-time Center [i.e. Rasho Nesterovic], the 15th player from their roster last season [i.e. Maceo Baston], and a flip-flop of the No. 17 [overall] and No. 41 Draft Picks from the 2008 NBA Draft, who turned out to be Roy Hibbert [C] and Nathan Jawai [C], respectively …

possibly NOT improve the Raptors decidely mediocre rebounding numbers from the last few years in any significant way, shape or form?

—————–

Well … as of Thursday, November 6, 2008 the Basketball Acumen of this specific correspondent seems to be as sharp [and accurate] as ever:

[Statistics from NBA.com]

NBA

Rebounding Differential

Per Game

2008-2009

[as of Thu Nov 6]

Rank

Team

+/-

1

L.A. Lakers

+12.25

2

Detroit

+11.00

 

Philadelphia

+11.00

4

Cleveland

+9.00

5

Phoenix

+5.20

6

Utah

+5.00

7

Atlanta

+3.66

8

Boston

+2.40

 

Milwaukee

+2.40

10

Golden State

+0.40

 

Portland

+0.40

12

Orlando

+0.20

13

Charlotte

-0.25

14

Chicago

-0.60

15

Houston

-1.40

16

New Jersey

-1.66

17

Sacramento

-1.80

18

Memphis

-2.00

19

Oklahoma City

-2.25

20

New Orleans

-3.00

21

Denver

-3.50

 

Minnesota

-3.50

23

Dallas

-3.75

24

Miami

-4.00

25

San Antonio

-4.25

26

Indiana

-4.66

27

Washington

-7.33

28

New York

-8.75

29

L.A. Clippers

-9.00

30

Toronto

-10.50

When a certain NBA observer tells you something about ‘How the Game actually Works in this League’, in advance … it might well be in your best interests to believe what this person has to say, even though you are not able to fully comprehend it, at that point in time.

—————–

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”Anonymous

The Better Half in the NBA: Day 1

October 28, 2008

And, so … it begins:

1 Los Angeles Lakers [W1] … A Legendary season awaits
2 Boston Celtics [E1] … Still the Champs
3 Detroit Pistons [E2] … Bad Boyz II, under MC [Hammer]
4 Phoenix Suns [W2] … Sunrise, Sunset, under TP
5 Utah Jazz [W3] … Tried & True
6 Houston Rockets [W4] … Combustible on any given night
7 Dallas Mavericks [W5] … letting Freedom Reign, under RC
8 Orlando Magic [E3] … holding strong with new additions
9 New Orleans Hornets [W6] … due for a small slip backwards
10 Portland Trail Blazers [W7] … The 2nd Coming begins
11 Cleveland Cavaliers [E4] … The King is in the house
12 Philadelphia 76ers [E5] … major moves this off-season
13 San Antonio Spurs [W8] … a struggle without Manu
14 Denver Nuggets [W9] … re-tooling their defense
15 Chicago Bulls [E6] … expect big things from VDN & ‘Mr. Rose’

Comprehending pre-season standings in the NBA

October 24, 2008

The NBA’s pre-season schedulae of games is rapidly coming to a close.

In general, how a team fares in its pre-season games … in this League, at least … provides a preliminary indication of where it actually stands, relative to the competition, heading into the new campaign.

Annually, there are three major categories of teams in the NBA:

1. Above .549 [High End]
2. .450-.549 [Middle]
3. Below .450 [Low End]

——————————————-

When you examine the current standings for the pre-season: 

2008-2009 Conference Preseason Standings
Eastern Conference
Eastern W L PCT GB CONF DIV HOME ROAD L 10 STREAK
Orlando 6 1 0.857 0.0 4-1 4-1 3-1 3-0 6-1 W 6
Boston 6 2 0.750 0.5 5-2 3-2 3-1 3-1 6-2 W 2
Detroit 6 2 0.750 0.5 5-1 3-0 3-2 3-0 6-2 L 1
Atlanta 5 3 0.625 1.5 4-1 3-1 1-2 4-1 5-3 W 1
Philadelphia 4 3 0.571 2.0 4-3 4-1 1-2 3-1 4-3 W 1
Indiana 4 4 0.500 2.5 1-0 1-0 3-1 1-3 4-4 W 1
New York 3 3 0.500 2.5 3-3 3-3 0-2 3-1 3-3 L 1
Toronto 4 4 0.500 2.5 1-1 1-1 2-3 2-1 4-4 L 2
Chicago 3 4 0.429 3.0 0-1 0-1 1-3 2-1 3-4 W 2
New Jersey 2 4 0.333 3.5 1-4 0-4 1-3 1-1 2-4 L 4
Washington 2 4 0.333 3.5 0-1 0-0 0-2 2-2 2-4 W 1
Cleveland 2 5 0.286 4.0 2-3 0-1 1-3 1-2 2-5 L 1
Miami 1 5 0.167 4.5 0-3 0-1 1-3 0-2 1-5 L 1
Milwaukee 1 6 0.143 5.0 0-2 0-2 1-3 0-3 1-6 L 2
Charlotte 0 8 0.000 6.5 0-4 0-4 0-2 0-6 0-8 L 8
Western Conference
Western W L PCT GB CONF DIV HOME ROAD L 10 STREAK
New Orleans 7 0 1.000 0.0 2-0 1-0 4-0 3-0 7-0 W 7
Minnesota 6 2 0.750 1.5 2-1 2-1 3-1 3-1 6-2 W 1
Denver 4 1 0.800 2.0 2-1 2-1 3-0 1-1 4-1 W 1
Houston 5 2 0.714 2.0 5-0 3-0 3-1 2-1 5-2 W 3
L.A. Lakers 5 2 0.714 2.0 1-2 1-1 5-2 0-0 5-2 W 5
Phoenix 5 2 0.714 2.0 3-0 1-0 2-1 3-1 5-2 W 3
Golden State 4 2 0.667 2.5 2-1 0-0 3-0 1-2 4-2 W 2
L.A. Clippers 4 3 0.571 3.0 2-2 2-1 0-3 4-0 4-3 L 2
Portland 4 3 0.571 3.0 3-3 0-2 2-2 2-1 4-3 L 1
Utah 4 3 0.571 3.0 3-2 2-1 1-1 3-2 4-3 W 2
Dallas 4 4 0.500 3.5 1-0 0-0 2-2 2-2 4-4 L 2
San Antonio 3 3 0.500 3.5 0-2 0-2 1-2 2-1 3-3 L 1
Memphis 2 6 0.250 5.5 0-2 0-2 2-2 0-4 2-6 L 4
Oklahoma City 1 5 0.167 5.5 0-4 0-1 0-1 1-4 1-5 L 2
Sacramento 1 7 0.125 6.5 1-7 0-2 1-3 0-4 1-7 L 6

——————————————

what you see, with only 4 days left, is generally speaking fairly representative of what you should now expect to get over the course of the 82-game regular season from these teams, in a broad sense.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Above .549
Orlando, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia

.450-.549
Indiana, New York, Toronto

Below .450
Chicago, New Jersey, Washington [playing without Arenas], Cleveland [playing few minutes with LBJ] , Miami, Milwaukee, Charlotte

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Above .549
New Orleans, Minnesota, Denver, Houston, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Golden State, LA Clippers, Portland, Utah

.450-.549
Dallas, San Antonio [playing with Ginobili]

Below .450
Memphis, Oklahoma City, Sacramento

——————————————-

Although it’s not uncommon for a team to shift from the High End to the Middle over the course of the regular season; it is rare for a team to move from the High End to the Low End … and vice versa … once the regular season starts unless, of course, it has to play [or is playing currently] without 1 or more of its marquee players for an extending number of games.

What is usually the most interesting thing to see, however, over the course of the 82-game regular season, is which few teams are able to elevate their performance (i) from the Middle into the High End, and (ii) from the Low End into the Middle … automatically making them one of the ‘Feel Good’ stories of the year; and, which few teams, if any, will go in the opposite direction … automatically making them one of the ‘Biggest Disappointment’ stories.

Into which specific category does it look as though your favourite team is going to fit this season?

High End now that stays in the High End
High End now that drops down into the Middle
Middle now that steps up into the High End
Middle now that stays in the Middle
Middle now that drops down into the Low End
Low End now that steps up into the Middle
Low End now that stays in the Low End

Detroit vs Orlando, 3-1

May 12, 2008

Except for the injury to the Pistons’ Chauncey Billups (PG), in the early going of Game 3 … this series is developing pretty much as expected.

Despite the brave assertions of certain players for the Magic, the Southwest Division champions find themselves with their backs firmly planted against the wall for tomorrow’s Game 5 match-up against this Detroit team with, perhaps, the best blend of veterans and contributing youngsters of any squad remaing in the 2008 NBA Playoffs.

While the ‘Series Preview call’ for a Pistons Sweep went by the wayside this past weekend, as it stands right now, things are still well situated for Detroit to become the first team to qualify for the Conference Finals, following tomorrow’s Game 5.

Should the Pistons take care of business at home, as the Celtics become further embroiled in an elongated series with the Cavaliers … Detroit would then be sitting in the catbird’s seat, laying in wait for the Boston/Cleveland winner.

NBA Playoffs 2nd Round Preview: Part I

May 3, 2008

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals

(2) DETROIT PISTONS (H)

(3) ORLANDO MAGIC

By the Numbers

QIR – #2 (10)
Points Differential Rank – #2
Points Allowed Rank – #1
Rebounding Differential Rank – #7

QIR – #11 (32)
Points Differential Rank – #5
Points Allowed Rank – #11
Rebounding Differential Rank – #16
 

Basketball Acumen

Best in the East right now. Team D & Rebounding top notch. 5 deep in Bigs. Should be able to handle “The Man of Steel” & “Turk”. Clear-cut advantage at the PG spot with Billups & Stuckey (the Real Deal). Prince vs Lewis is the key match-up. Eyes on the Prize this year. Tough out rest of the way.

One round further than last post-season! Slightly overmatched in almost every area of the game, except for 3Pt Shooting, which should be able to keep them close in every game. Not enough quality depth at each position to take on the Big Boyz & succeed, just yet. Huge step up in class vs Detroit

Who will win

Detroit in 4 … although each game will be tight going to the final 6 minutes.

 
Western Conference Semi-Finals

(2) NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (H)

(3 ) SAN ANTONIO SPURS

By the Numbers

QIR – #4 (21)
Points Differential Rank – #6
Points Allowed Rank – #5
Rebounding Differential Rank – #10

QIR – #7 (23)
Points Differential Rank – #8
Points Allowed Rank – #3
Rebounding Differential Rank – #12
 

Basketball Acumen

Overmatched at the 2, 3 & 5 spots. CP3 & D-West will need to dominate in order to win more than 1 or 2 games. Unlikely vs vets Parker, Thomas, Oberto & Horry. Bryon Scott is a terrific young coach but … vs Gregg Popovich? Tremendous learning experience for the Hornets.

Best defensive team in the NBA. Parker will need to match the herculian efforts of CP3. Ginobili & Duncan KNOW HOW TO WIN games. ‘Air Force One’ best in the business, right now … unflappable, perceptive & tough-minded. Will need to be in order to get past this opponent.

Who will win

San Antonio in 6 (or 7).  Every game will be a war.

Raptors @ Magic … post mortem

April 23, 2008

Orlando vs Toronto (Tue Apr 22) – Game Summary

When the Raptors play this well, on the road, in the playoffs …

* Shooting a higher Field Goal % than their Opponent (45.7 to 42.7)
* With a higher 3pt Field Goal % than their Opponent (37.9 to 29.0)
* With more Made 3pt Shots than their Opponent (11 to 9) 
* With a higher Free Throw % than their Opponent (90.0 to 82.6)
* With more Assists than their Opponent (21 to 19)

and finish only 1 point shy on the Scoreboard …

Tor 103, ORL 104

after being down by as many as 18 pts, at one stage, and with a clean look on their final possession to win the game outright …

it can seem as though Toronto put forth a tremedous effort, battled hard and was just unfortunate to lose a game that could have very easily gone either way.

Yes, indeed, that can sometimes be exactly how it seems.

But … seeming isn’t the same thing as BEING the case when trying to understand the reason(s) one team lost and one team won a specific game in the NBA playoffs.

With 3:00 remaining in the 4th Quarter of yesterday’s Game 2, with these line-ups for each team:

PG – Jose Calderon v Jameer Nelson
OG – Anthony Parker v Keith Bogans
SF – Jason Kapono v Rashard Lewis
PF – Carlos Delfino v Hedo Turkoglu
C – Chris Bosh v Dwight Howard

the following sequence of possessions occurred:

3:00 … Tor/Calderon Made 3Pt Shot (over Bogans) … ORL 98, Tor 97
2:41 … ORL/Nelson Driving Layup Attempt Blocked by Bosh
2:30 … Tor/Kapono Missed Leaning Jump Shot; Kapono Turnover (stepped out-of-bounds)
FULL TIME-OUT
2:13 … ORL/Howard Fouled by Delfino
2:03 … ORL/Turkoglu Missed Jump Shot; Offensive Rebound by Lewis (vs Delfino)
2:01 … ORL/Lewis Made Layup (vs Delfino) … ORL 100, Tor 97
1:47 … Tor/Calderon Made 3Pt Shot … ORL 100, Tor 100
1:26 … ORL/Lewis Missed 3Pt Shot; Defensive Reound by Parker
1:04 … Tor/Delfino Driving Layup Attempt, Fouled by Turkoglu; Delfino Missed 1st Free Throw Attempt, Made 2nd FT … Tor 101, ORL 100
20 SECOND TIME-OUT (ORL)
1:02 … ORL/Turkoglu Missed 3Pt Shot, Tap-out by Lewis/Delfino; Offensive Rebound by Nelson (vs Calderon)
0:51.6 … ORL/Lewis Missed 3Pt Shot; Defensive Rebound by Bosh
0:47.0 … Tor/Turnover by Bosh (bad pass); Steal by Bogans
0:35.1 … ORL/Howard Fouled by Bosh
0:30.3 … ORL/Turkoglu Made tough Driving Layup … ORL 102, Tor 101
20 SECOND TIME-OUT (Tor)
0:26.5 … Tor/Bosh Missed Driving Layup Attempt (Blocked Shot by Howard, no foul called)
0:18.7 … ORL/Turkoglu Fouled by Kapono; Turkoglu Made 2 Free Throws … ORL 104, Tor 101
0:09.6 … Tor/Delfino Made Driving Layup … ORL 104, Tor 103
20 Second Time-out (Orlando), Dooling replaced Bogans
0:09.3 … ORL/Offensive Foul by Dooling
FULL TIME-OUT (Tor)
0:03.0 … Tor/Bosh Missed 18′ Jump Shot
GAME OVER

meaning that Chris Bosh, Carlos Delfino, Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon each committed the types of serious miscues which can derail an inexperienced team playing on the road in the post-season … e.g. Giving up an Important Offensive Rebound, Missing a Critical Free Throw, Committing a Turnover & Missing a Crucial Jump Shot. 

Until Toronto’s best players are put into these specific types of End-of-Game situations more times during their NBA careers, it is likely that they will continue to come up on the short end of intensely played playoff games that are usually decided by individual player execution during the final three minutes of the game.

Looking ahead to Games 3 & 4, in Toronto, it will be interesting to see:

(A) How Orlando’s best players … in most cases, equally inexperienced as Toronto’s … are able to handle the intensity of playoff competition during this specific phase of the game, where Winners & Losers are frequently determined in the NBA’s post-season; and,

(B) If Toronto decides to give increased playing time to the specific Small-Ball Unit (i.e. Calderon, Parker, Kapono, Delfino & Bosh) that finished Game 2 … with its strength (3Pt Shooting) and weakness (Offensive Rebounds Allowed).

A winning line-up for the Raptors vs the Magic

April 22, 2008

During Sunday’s Lakers v Nuggets Game 1, Jeff Van Gundy (NBA Analyst) made an insightful comment – one of many he makes, per game – about the value of a coach’s ‘words’ alone toward the performance of his team, vs what their habits are, on a daily basis …

“(as a coach) You cannot influence a team with your words, at halftime or in the pre-game talk … they are going to do what they do.” – JVG

… which is exactly what I thought of while evaluating the Boxscore from Toronto/Orlando Game 1 … where the the Rebounding numbers were, as follows:

Toronto 35 (Individual) + 11 (Team) = 46
Orlando 42 (Individual) + 6 (Team) = 48

meaning that the Raptors and the Magic both performed pretty much as expected when these two teams are matched-up against one another, since during the Regular Season …

Orlando (+0.31) finished 16th in ‘Rebounding Differential’; while,
Toronto (-1.54) finished 22nd.

For Toronto to effect some type of fundamental change to the ‘Rebounding Differential’ numbers in Game 2 … they will need to address their Individual Player match-ups vs the key ‘board men’ for Orlando, who are D12 (22), Turkoglu (6), Bogans (5), Lewis (4), Evans (2) & Nelson (2) … for example, by going to a player rotation that I suggested on different web sites several weeks ago …

STARTERS
1/Calderon v Nelson
2/Moon v Bogans
3/Graham v Lewis
4/Humphries v Howard/Turk
5/Bosh v Turkoglu/D12

KEY SUBS
G/Parker v Dooling/Evans
F/Kapono/Delfino v Evans/Dooling
C/Nesterovic v Foyle

which is what a ‘Top Notch’ GM & Head Coach combination, like RC Buford & Gregg Popovich, would have done with the Raptors’ player personnel … several months ago … e.g. when TJ Ford was pulling his ’sulking’ I’ll-only-play-as-a-Starter-for-this-team B.S.

Unless you can ‘think the Individual Player match-up game’ like a ‘Top Notch’ NBA head coach, it’s very difficult to truly understand what THE DIFFERENCE is between ‘the Winners’ & ‘the Losers’ in this League, in the games that have a lot of meaning … i.e. versus Plus .500 Teams.

Enjoy Game 2 this evening! … which Orlando will probably win to go up 2-0 in this 1st Round series.

NBA Playoffs Preview (2007-2008)

April 18, 2008

After a scintilating regular season schedule which saw:

* The single greatest W-L turn-around in the history of the NBA
* The 2nd Longest Winning Streak in the history of the NBA
* The fiercest battle to make the Western Conference Playoffs in the history of the NBA
* 3 seismic shifting in-season trades involving marquee players
* The Resurgence of the NBA’s two most notable franchises

What could possibly lie ahead in the post-season?

1st Round match-ups begin later today … Where Amazing Happens!

Eastern Conference


(1) BOSTON CELTICS (H)

(8 ) ATLANTA HAWKS

By the Numbers

QIR – #1 (6)
Points Differential Rank – #1
Points Allowed Rank – #2
Rebounding Differential Rank – #3

QIR – #13 (43)
Points Differential Rank- #19
Points Allowed Rank – #15
Rebounding Differential Rank – #9

Basketball Acumen

The best Defense in the NBA. Committed to Rebounding. Share the ball on Offense as well as any team in the league. 3 All-Star players (i.e. Garnett, Pierce & Allen-R) and a plethora of effective ‘role guys’ off the bench. Have everything it takes to win the NBA championship this year. The clear-cut favourite.

Return to the post-season after a 9-year absence. Solid ‘Starting 5’ (i.e. Bibby, Johnson, Smith, Williams & Horford) and a commitment to Rebounding. Bench players are not strong enough to compete successfully at this level. Will be fortunate to win a game. A major underdog.

Who will win

Boston in 4 … although the Hawks will put up a solid fight in their home games (25-16).

 

(4) CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (H)

(5) WASHINGTON WIZARDS

By the Numbers

QIR – #8 (26)
Points Differential Rank – #16
Points Allowed Rank – #9
Rebounding Differential Rank – #1

QIR – #12 (41)
Points Differential Rank- #15
Points Allowed Rank – #12
Rebounding Differential Rank – #14

Basketball Acumen

Despite the presence of Lebron James, have regressed as a group from last season, especially on Defense. Verajao & Pavlovic still not fully recovered from early-season holdouts. Rebounding is still first rate. Excellent depth in the front-court.  Lack cohesiveness overall and are stagnant on Offense (i.e. dependent on LBJ). Not as quick or as hungry as last year’s team.

Under-rated as group. Roster filled with athletic, talented and hard-working players with good length. Versatile. Can create match-up advantages at each of the 5 positions, depending on need. 3 top notch Scorers (i.e. Butler, Jamison & Arenas), several good Defenders (i.e. Daniels, Steveson & Haywood) and a willingness to Rebound, as a team.

Who will win

Washington in 6 … if Butler, Jamison & Arenas are all healthy (i.e. 25+ MPG).


 

(2) DETROIT PISTONS (H)

(7) PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

By the Numbers

QIR – #2 (10)
Points Differential Rank – #2
Points Allowed Rank – #1
Rebounding Differential Rank – #7

QIR – #9 (27)
Points Differential Rank- #14
Points Allowed Rank – #12
Rebounding Differential Rank – #6

Basketball Acumen

Deep, athletic, talented roster. Solid blend of vets & kids. Control the tempo as well as any squad in the league. Team Defense and Rebounding are first rate. High efficiency Offense. Will make the extra pass, repeatedly. Will go as far as, Billups & Wallace will take them. Clear-cut 2nd choice in the East to reach the Finals.

Under-rated as a group. Athletic & physical with a solid commitment to Rebounding and Team Defense. 2nd half surge keyed by solid contributions from youngsters Young-T, Williams-L, Carney-R and Smith-J. Bench is strong enough to compete successfully at this level. Unfortunate to be match-up against the Pistons.

Who will win

Detroit in 5 … although the Sixers might be talented enough to force a Game 6.


 

(3) ORLANDO MAGIC (H)

(6) TORONTO RAPTORS

By the Numbers

QIR – #11 (32)
Points Differential Rank – #5
Points Allowed Rank – #11
Rebounding Differential Rank – #16

QIR – #14 (44)
Points Differential Rank- #12
Points Allowed Rank – #10
Rebounding Differential Rank – #22

Basketball Acumen

Points Differential Rank is keyed by 3pt shooting & number of trips to the FT line.  Team Defense and Rebounding are solid; not spectacular. Offense is inside out, with D12 & a host of capable ‘Marksmen’. Will go as far as Turkoglu, Lewis, Bogans, Evans & Dooling will take them. Must minimize TO’s by Nelson & Arroyo.

3 solid players (i.e. Bosh, Calderon & Nesterovic) plus an erratic ‘Group of Seven’ (erstwhile individual artists known as TJ, AP, ‘the Mad Argentine’, ‘the Shootist’, Apollo33, Hump & Il Mago). At ‘the top’ of the league in 3pt shooting %; at ‘the bottom’ in FTA/game. Rebounding & Team Defense are weaknesses. Capable of winning this series … if Orlando mis-fires.

Who will win

Orlando in 7 … although Stan Van Gundy might be good enough to wrap it up in fewer.

 

Western Conference


(1) L.A. LAKERS (H)

(8 ) DENVER NUGGETS

By the Numbers

QIR – #10 (30)
Points Differential Rank – #3
Points Allowed Rank – #19
Rebounding Differential Rank – #8

QIR – #19 (61)
Points Differential Rank- #11
Points Allowed Rank – #29
Rebounding Differential Rank – #21

Basketball Acumen

When healthy: (i) the deepest, most talented team in the NBA; and, (ii) the best Offense in the league. Rebounding is solid. Team Defense depends on the availability of Bynum. With AB, it is first rate; without him, it is not good enough to win the title this year. Will be a force for years to come, if found wanting this go round. Fisher’s stability is the key.

Offensive pyrotechnics from Iverson, Melo, J.R. & Kleiza. Defense & Rebounding are strictly second rate, despite the individual work of Camby, Najera & K-Mart. The ‘little boys in blue’ of the NBA. When good, they’re good; when bad they’re really bad … frequently within the same game. Enough talent to lose 4 single-digit games.

Who will win

L.A. in 5 … although without Bynum the Nuggets might win 2 home games.

 

 

(5) HOUSTON ROCKETS (H)

(4) UTAH JAZZ

By the Numbers

QIR – #3 (15)
Points Differential Rank – #9
Points Allowed Rank – #4
Rebounding Differential Rank – #2

QIR – #4 (21)
Points Differential Rank- #4
Points Allowed Rank – #13
Rebounding Differential Rank – #4

Basketball Acumen

The best Defense in the NBA. Committed to Rebounding. Share the ball on Offense as well as any team in the league. 3 All-Star players (i.e. Garnett, Pierce & Allen-R) and a plethora of effective ‘role guys’ off the bench. Have everything it takes to win the NBA championship this year. Clear-cut favourites.

The best home record in the NBA (37-4). PG (Williams-D) is first rate. Deep & physical team. Committed to Rebounding. Bench players are first rate. Struggle on the road this year, without the leadership of Fisher-D, with the 2nd unit. High % Offense must get solid 3pt shooting from Okor & Korver. Team Defense can be erratic away from home.

Who will win

Utah in 6 … although the Rockets are ‘tough enough’ to win a game 7 this year.

 

 

(2) NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (H)

(7) DALLAS MAVERICKS

By the Numbers

QIR – #4 (21)
Points Differential Rank – #6
Points Allowed Rank – #5
Rebounding Differential Rank – #10

QIR – #4 (21)
Points Differential Rank- #10
Points Allowed Rank – #6
Rebounding Differential Rank – #5

Basketball Acumen

PG, Chris Paul, is first rate. Team Defense is solid. Committed to Rebounding. Share the ball on Offense, led by the mastery of CP3.  Must get high % outside shooting from Peja S, to spread the floor. Lacking playoff experience. Will go as far as David West (their 2nd all-star caliber player) & Byron Scott (matching wits vs Avery Johnson), will take them. Can win the series … if it gets to game 7.

Get the best possible match-up for their team, in the 1st round. Bitterly remember last year’s embarrassing loss to G-State. Ready for bear this go round. Rebounding is solid. Team Defense is solid. Must control the Offensive tempo. Bench is solid. Can beat anyone in the Western Conference … except L.A. & San Antonio (when those two squads are healthy).

Who will win

Dallas in 6 … as the Hornets have to learn how to lose first before they can win.

   
 
  

(3) SAN ANTONIO SPURS (H)

(6) PHOENIX SUNS

By the Numbers

QIR – #7 (23)
Points Differential Rank – #8
Points Allowed Rank – #3
Rebounding Differential Rank – #12

QIR – #16 (57)
Points Differential Rank- #7
Points Allowed Rank – #25
Rebounding Differential Rank – #25

Basketball Acumen

Key injuries to Duncan, Parker & Ginobili have affected their customary regular season efficiency. When healthy, still as good Defensively & Rebounding as any squad in the NBA. Always make the extra pass on Offense.  A bevy of effective ‘role guys’ off the bench. Have everything it takes to win the NBA championship again this year, if healthy.

A better chance of winning the title than prior editions, with a stronger commitment to Team Defense & Rebounding than before. Unfortunately, for the Suns, each of the other top teams in the West has improved more than Phoenix, whose high efficiency Offense remains the strength of the team. The Suns are finally moving in the right direction but their window of opportunity is closing quickly.

Who will win

San Antonio in 7 … although it could be fewer, pending Grant Hill’s injury status.

Enjoy what should be absolutely terrific basketball!