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Just The Sports: Western Conference Playoff Breakdown (Phoenix vs. Dallas)

Just The Sports

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Western Conference Playoff Breakdown (Phoenix vs. Dallas)

Phoenix (2) vs. Dallas (4)

After a couple of years of bashing their heads against the proverbial wall that is the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks finally knocked the Spurs from their perch atop the Western Conference. And it only took them seven games to do it. Now popular opinion seems to be that Dallas will roll over the Phoenix Suns en route to an NBA Final berth. But will they?

The Phoenix Suns will certainly have something to say about it. They are coming off a game seven win of their own, and if the regular season series where the teams split their four match-ups is any indicator, there is little chance Phoenix will just roll over and concede defeat.

Still, little information can be garnered by looking solely at a regular season series so we will look a little deeper into this match-up.

First, how efficiently a team plays is one of the biggest keys in deciding which team is better. Since teams play at different tempos, the best way to look at a team's performance is to look at how they do per 100 possessions.

Dallas Offense: 112 points per 100 possessions
Phoenix Defense: 106 points per 100 possessions

Phoenix Offense: 112 points per 100 possessions
Dallas Defense: 105 points per 100 possessions

Both teams have a reputation for being prolific stories teams, but they also play very good defense relative to how many points they score. The difference between the two teams amounts to 1 point per 100 possessions, a difference so marginal as to not matter.

Now, we will look at how each team scores to see if there is a clear advantage in favor of one team over the other.

Dallas Jump Shot Offense: 49.5 points
Phoenix Jump Shot Defense: 52.1 points

Dallas Close Offense: 21.1 points
Phoenix Close Defense: 25.3 points

Dallas Dunk Offense: 4.8 points
Phoenix Dunk Defense: 6.7 points

Dallas Tip Offense: 1.7 points
Phoenix Tip Defense: 1.3 points

The Phoenix Suns give up more points than Dallas even averages so the Mavericks should have a field day with the Suns' defense and put up exorbitant offensive numbers. For the most part, the Mavericks can run their offense exactly as they did during the regular season and see success.

Phoenix Jump Shot Offense: 62.8 points
Dallas Jump Shot Defense: 43.2 points

Phoenix Close Offense: 23.3 points
Dallas Close Defense: 23.1 points

Phoenix Dunk Offense: 6.7 points
Dallas Dunk Defense: 5.4 points

Phoenix Tip Offense: 1.2 points
Dallas Tip Defense: 1.7 points

Like the Dallas Mavericks, the Phoenix Suns are very much in love with the jump shot, but unlike the Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks actually play good perimeter defense. This raises a red flag for the Suns because if they are unable to score off of jump shots, their offense will fall apart.

Dallas has the edge over Phoenix in terms of being able to take away what the Suns love to do, something the Suns do not seem prepared to do to the Mavericks.

Another important factor into predicting a seven-game series winner is to look at the production each team gets from the five positions. To do this, I will be using net PER, a statistic developed by John Hollinger.

Point Guard: Having Steve Nash on the team certainly helps a team win the point guard production battle. Advantage: Phoenix (+6.6 to +0.9)

Shooting Guard: At this position, Jason Terry goes a long way in giving Dallas the edge over Phoenix. Phoenix, on the other hand, gets worse production from this position than their opponents' shooting guards do. Advantage: Dallas (+3.6 to +0.5)

Small Forward: Neither team has a small forward to write home about, but Dallas's small forward produce more than Phoenix's. Advantage: Dallas (+0.3 to -2.8)

Power Forward: Dallas has a significant advantage when it comes to production out of the power forward position. If you had Dirk Nowitzki on your team, you'd have a significant advantage, too. Advantage: Dallas (+8.6 to +3.4)

Center: Phoenix manages to establish its production dominance when it comes to the battle of the centers. But not by much. Advantage: Phoenix (+2.2 to +0.4)

Overall Net PER: Dallas has the overall advantage over Phoenix in PER by +4.9, a significant enough advantage that Phoenix should be very worried.

Prediction: Dallas wins the series in six games.

Stats courtesy of


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