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Just The Sports: Western Conference Playoff Breakdown (Phoenix vs. Los Angeles Lakers)

Just The Sports

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Western Conference Playoff Breakdown (Phoenix vs. Los Angeles Lakers)

Phoenix (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7)

A lot has been made of the fact Phoenix has no one who can guard Kobe Bryant, who has averaged 42.5 points per game against the Suns. These same people fail to mention that as long as no one on the Lakers can stop any of the Suns' main offensive weapons, there really is no need for the Suns to stop Kobe Bryant. He has gotten his 42.5 points per game against them and that production has netted him exactly one victory in four tries. Will Bryant finally will his team to victory in this playoff series? If the statistics of both teams tell us anything, chances are he will not be able to.

In my previous five posts, I listed the normal offensive and defensive effort for both teams. Each time, except for one where the teams played at the same tempo (New Jersey and Indiana), the data proved inconclusive. Suffice it to say, I have finally learned my lesson, and after five times of touching the electrified donut, I will do so no more.

Here are each team's offensive stats after factoring in the differing tempos at which the two teams play.

Phoenix Offense: 112 points per 100 possessions
Los Angeles Defense: 106 points per 100 possessions

Los Angeles Offense: 108 points per 100 possessions
Phoenix Defense: 106 points per 100 possessions

The teams both play the same quality of defense. Phoenix trumps Los Angeles when it comes to offense, proving to be a little more efficient. According to these statistics, for each 100 possessions, Phoenix will score four more points than Los Angeles will.

Let's see how the two teams stack up when it comes to net contributions from their players. As always I will be using the PER rating, thanks to John Hollinger.

Point Guard-With Kobe Bryant not really one to pass the ball to any of his teammates, let alone a point guard, it is no surprise Los Angeles gets negative production out of this position (-4.0). The Phoenix Suns, however, possess Steve Nash, who is one of the top two point guards in the NBA. His above average play is certainly reflected in the Suns' point guards having a net production of +6.6. Advantage: Phoenix

Shooting Guard-There should be no surprise that with the play of Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles's production at shooting guard exceeds that of Phoenix's, +8.5 to -0.5. Advantage: Los Angeles

Small Forward-The Lakers also outproduce the Suns at this position, with a net production of +1.7 compared to -2.8 for the Suns. Advantage: Los Angeles

Power Forward-The Phoenix Suns assert their dominance at the power forward position, having a net PER rating of +3.4. The Lakers are lagging behind at -0.2. Advanatage: Phoenix

Center-Even though Phoenix has no true center, the team still manages to get more production from this position than does Los Angeles (+2.2 to -0.4). Advantage: Phoenix

Prediction: Phoenix wins the series in six or seven games.

Stats courtesy of


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