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Just The Sports: 2006-04-23

Just The Sports

Saturday, April 29, 2006

NFL Draft Non-Sequitur Thoughts

With three rounds and ninety-seven picks down in the NFL draft, here are some of my thoughts from the day.

Things could not have worked out better for Matt Leinart. A lot of people will harp on the fact that by going back for another year of college football, Leinart lost out on millions of dollars, but in my opinion, by being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals he has gained a better NFL career. If he had gone to San Francisco with the number one pick last year, he would have played for a team with no offensive weapons at his disposal and he would have struggled just like Alex Smith did in his rookie year. And probably will for years to come. Instead, he will be playing in a warmer weather environment on a team with two of the best wide receivers in the NFL and an above average running back in Edgerrin James. Not a bad way to start an NFL career.

The Buffalo Bills do not know what the hell they are doing. They drafted a player way too high with the eighth pick of the draft (Donte Whitner). They traded up to get a player no one wanted in John McCargo, thereby wasting future draft picks. And if those two foibles weren't bad enough, they now have half of an Ohio State secondary (Whitner and Youboty), which only ranked 43rd in the country last year in passing defense.

The Atlanta Falcons have added another Virginia Tech player back with an overinflated ego and assholic potential. Michael Vick and DeAngelo Hall are awaiting you with open arms, Jimmy Williams. (Update: Jimmy Williams reportedly put in an order for a $250,000 Lamborghini.)

It is always interesting to notice the trends behind teams who draft a certain type of player. Rich McKay, former GM of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and current GM of the Atlanta Falcons, was famous for drafting most of the Bucs' players from the three big Florida universities. Now there is another team who is beginning a regional trend of their own. I am talking about Nick Saban and the Miami Dolphins. Saban used to coach in the SEC at LSU and obviously he liked the players he saw in that conference since with the first eight draft selections under his tenure, four have come from the SEC. A little conference favoritism, if you will.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Fact Check Fact Check Fact Check

Mike Celizic, repeat after me. Before I turn in my articles to my editors, I will fact check all of my statements so as to avoid sounding like a complete dumbass.

Torre really wore him out in 2004, calling on him for too many two-inning saves and running him out to protect too many five-run leads, with the result ultimately being that he got beat by Boston in the ALCS. Last year, the manager took better care of Rivera and the pitcher rewarded him with one of the greatest years of his great career.

According to, Mariano Rivera's innings pitched for 2004 and 2005 were:

2004: 78.7 innings pitched (316 batters faced)
2005: 78.3 innings pitched (306 batters faced)

Oh Mike, I know you have a computer and access to the Internet. Why do you refuse to use those tools to do research?

Following Bad Advice

With the large number of early entries into the NBA draft, I could put all the players' names in a hat, draw one at random, and pick a player who does not belong in the NBA draft and will probably see his dreams of playing in the NBA dashed within three years. Don't get me wrong, though. I do not have a problem with players ruining their basketball careers if they do so after careful thinking and analyzing of their skill set. The problem I do have is with players who listen to their friends who hype them up and do not take the time to measure their own productivity on the basketball court as compared to their peers. For the purposes of this post, I will be discussing Daniel Gibson, who recently declared himself eligible for the draft, a decision which is either the result of a super-inflated ego (perhaps puffed by his entourage) or sheer stupidity. Whatever the case, the data suggest Gibson would be best served returning to college and putting his NBA aspirations on hold, at least until he becomes a better than average college player.

Before I get into Gibson's actual worth as a player, a little background is necessary to show what expectations he had surrounding him when he stepped onto Texas's campus and how that may have contributed to his overvaluing of himself. Gibson was picked to be the successor to TJ Ford at the point guard position. TJ Ford had taken Texas to a Final Four and was the best point guard in the nation in his last collegiate season. Gibson did not live up to expectations in his first year, but no one became too worried because after all, he was only a freshman. Then came this most recent season, his sophomore one, and with it came expectations which now seemed realistically attainable. Nowhere was this more reflected than in an article written before the season comparing his leadership skills on the basketball court to Vince Young's, quarterback for the Longhorn football team, leadership on the football field. Unfortunately for Daniel Gibson, he actually had to play the games and there came the problem. Only a few games into the season, Rick Barnes quickly realized Texas was not going to win with Gibson as his point guard and moved him off the ball, making him into more of a shooting guard. With that one move, Gibson's draft stock dropped precipitously because while he could be a point guard at the NBA level with his body type (6'2, 190lbs.), the transition to shooting guard at that size will be much more difficult. And if that is not already a big enough strike against Gibson, his lack of productivity at the shooting guard position is.

For a player whose position is listed as shooting guard, Gibson actually does not shoot particularly well. He was not even the best player on his own team, ranking third in 3-point field goal percentage among players with at least 100 attempts. His assist-to-turnover ratio is good but not stellar. He is a decent rebounder for a guard. His free throw shooting is below average for the position he plays, when he even gets to the free throw line. And worst of all, in my opinion, his shooting efficiency is 1.23 points per shot.

To get some idea of how Gibson's shooting efficiency stacks up against his college basketball peers, I did a systematic random sampling of the 337 Division 1-A basketball programs in the country. Then I took the top five players in field goal attempts and averaged their points per shot and then averaged the shooting efficiences of the sixty-seven teams of my random sample. The total average I came up with is 1.26 points per shot, meaning that Gibson is only an average to below average shooter. Not so good for someone whose whole game is based on his ability to shoot.

The ironic thing about this is Gibson may have been better served declaring for the NBA draft after his freshman year. At least then he would not have provided a larger sample size which NBA general managers can now use to point out his many deficiencies.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Michael Ventre Has a Man Crush on Favre

Michael, please take your head from between Brett Favre's legs because it is obviously affecting your ability to use basic reasoning skills.

And when you think about it, his decision to return to the Green Bay Packers for his 16th and perhaps final (yeah, right) NFL season was really his only legitimate option.

No, it wasn't. I'm assuming you are using the word "legitimate" in terms of being in compliance with the law so I will go ahead and break the news to you that if Favre had retired, he would not have been breaking the law. Therefore, he had two legitimate options. Unfortunately, Favre chose the one where his decreasing talent will be on display for the whole world. Again.

Because if he retired now, after the only losing season of his distinguished career, he might be remembered as a loser.

And Brett Favre is no loser, right? Oh, you can't hear me because your ears are covered by Favre's muscular thighs? Well, that's too bad, but I will go on talking anyway.

Instead of retiring and having only one losing season in his career, Favre has decided to come back for yet another losing season. That way, when people fifteen years from now look back on Favre's legacy, they can say to themselves that, wow, that Brett Favre sure was a winner at losing.

Loser is not a word Brett Favre’s lips can form in a mirror.

They don't have to. His twenty-nine interceptions from last year say it loudly enough.

Granted, millions of others can do it for him, aided in part by his scattershot performances in 2005.

And 2003. And 1999. And 1998. And 1993. Basically every season where Favre threw more than twenty interceptions.

That is why it was essential he return. The Packers probably won’t win next year’s Super Bowl behind Favre. They may not even make the playoffs. But they’ll be led by someone who feels there is unfinished business to take care of, and an individual like that is always worth following.

There certainly is unfinished business to be taken care of. At the end of last season, Brett Favre had 255 career interceptions, a measly 22 behind the career interception leader, George Blanda. With the way he throws into triple coverage and throws the ball a mile up in the air so it resembles a punt more than a pass, there is no doubt that Favre came back for one thing and one thing only. To prove that he is far and away the best interception thrower in the history of the National Football League. And if that is not worth following, I do not know what is.

Favre’s physical skills haven’t eroded.

You are right about that. He can still throw interceptions with the best of them.

The issues with Favre last year had to do with his ability to perform when hamstrung by events outside of his control.

Wait, wait wait. So you're saying that forcing throws into coverage was outside of his control? That when he threw those twenty-nine interceptions, some evil football demon had possessed his body and made him make all those bad decisions? Oh, that makes complete sense. How dare I criticize Favre?

Last season Favre threw a career-high 29 interceptions and at times looked like the confused rebel out of Southern Mississippi with the million-dollar arm and ten-cent head who baffled the Atlanta Falcons just enough that they decided to give up on him early and ship him to Green Bay after only one season.

When has Favre not looked like that? Throughout his career as a starting quarterback, Favre has averaged eighteen interceptions a year. Compare that to Joe Montana who only averaged ten interceptions a year in years he started at least 8 games.

Yet the reason Favre often seemed to regress back to those formative seasons during the maddening 2005 campaign is not because he’s losing brain capacity but because he tried to do too much on a lousy team. He forced balls into coverage. He tried to impose his will upon the game instead of letting it come to him. And when game after game went awry, Favre responded not by easing up, but by pushing harder. Big mistake.

How many times does this need to be said? Favre has always done those things. He is not regressing. That is the player he is. A high-risk quarterback who is going to throw a lot of needless interceptions.

In 2005 the Packers, under head coach Mike Sherman, played much of the season without running back Ahman Green, who suffered a knee injury. But the team has re-signed him, and added Rams defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and former Seahawks safety Marquand Manuel through free agency.

If you think the re-signing of Ahman Green will keep Favre from throwing interceptions, then you are sorely mistaken. Even in Ahman Green's best statistical year, 2003 where he rushed for 1,883 years, Favre still managed to throw twenty-one interceptions.

Brett Favre may not go out as a winner after the 2006 campaign, but at least he won’t go out as a loser.

I'm pretty sure this sentence is full of logical fallacies, but it's late and I don't feel like figuring it out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Random Musings

There will be neither rhyme nor reason to the things I am about to write. They are just thoughts that have been running through my head and that I wanted to write down before I forgot them. Consider yourself warned.

Athletes and Box Scores
Every so often you will hear an athlete say something to the effect that he doesn't pay any attention to what the sports media says about him or even look to see what stats are. I can completely understand not listening to what the sports media says. For the most part, they are fools who are not held accountable for their foolishness. What I do not understand is why any player would shy away from looking at his own stats during the course of a season. What is better than stats for telling a player how productive he is and what he needs to work on? It would stand to reason that keeping up with his own stats would help the player in the long run.

For example, let's say a baseball player is going through a slump where he is struggling to get on base. So he gets the bright idea to compare how many pitches he saw per plate appearance when he was getting on base regularly to how many pitches per plate appearance he is seeing now during his slump. Then, after comparing the data, the aforementioned player would see his that when he was doing well at the plate, he was seeing more pitches than when he wasn't doing well. Therefore, he goes back to his days of having plate discipline and works his way out of the slump. Moral of the story, players, is to check your stats.

A Suggestion For Sports Networks
Since forever, when a baseball player comes up to hit, the network shows the player's batting average, home runs, and RBI total. Unfortunately, two of these three statistics, batting average and RBI total, are grossly misleading. There has been exhaustive research done to show that both of these statistics are overrated and neither gives a clear picture of how good a hitter a player is. Take batting average for example. To get some idea of how little batting average tells anyone, tear a photograph into thirds and then show a stranger one-third of the photograph and ask them to guess what the rest of the photograph looks like. Chances are they will not be able to. Nor does batting average give you a complete picture of a hitter. On-base percentage and slugging percentage do a much better job.

As for RBI, I cannot stress enough that RBI tells you nothing about how productive a hitter is because it is not even an individual statistic. To get an RBI means a player has to be lucky enough to have a teammate in base who is fast enough to score off a base hit. In addition, a great hitter may not get many RBI at all because his teammates are not getting on base so he has no one to drive in. Are we then to say he is inferior to a player who has teammates with good on-base percentages who are always in scoring position? Of course not.

And while I am on the subject, networks who show games should also refrain from showing a pitcher's win-loss record, as if that is any indicator of how good a pitcher is. Wins, like RBI, are a team statistic, not an individual one. Case in point, a pitcher can pitch a complete game where he only gives up one run, but his teammates score him no runs. And the pitcher loses. Is the pitcher who lost this game worse than a pitcher who gave up four runs, but got five runs in support? Not at all. A pitcher's WHIP, home run rate per nine innings, and strikeouts per nine innings are much better indicators of talent and production.

Intentional Walks
Why would any baseball manager intentionally walk a player so as to purposefully put him on base, you ask? Well, that is a very good question, especially since is probably only one instance where it is smart to intentionally walk a batter. However, I will venture a guess. Managers intentionally walk batters because when they played their manager intentionally walk players and the managers before those managers did the same. Hopefully, there will soon come a day, probably when managers are no longer former players, where the intentional walk is no longer seen as a smart option.

That being said, I have a word of advice to baseball managers everywhere. Stop walking Barry Bonds. If you are going to be dumb enough to intentionally walk someone, at least do it right. The point is to give a free pass to the batter you fear in order to allow your pitcher to pitch an inferior hitter. Well, when the batter behind the player you're intentionally walking has an on-base percentage of .371 and is slugging .618, it might just be a good idea to stop.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Just A Word Of Advice

Peter King would be best served keeping all his non-football thoughts to himself and out of his football articles. Inevitably, when King does dare to tackle another sport besides the one he is paid to cover, the conclusions he makes are inaccurate.

a. I told you about the Blue Jays. They'll be in it at the end. What a lineup.

The Blue Jays actually do have a very good lineup. So far, after seventeen games, the Blue Jays are OPS'ing .878, which is second only to the Yankees. However, their pitching is absolutely atrocious since they allow their opponents to OPS .810 against them. And if that was not bad enough, the team ERA is 5.19, good enough to rank the Blue Jays twenty-first out of the thirty major league teams.

The Blue Jays' record so far: 9-8. Yeah, Peter, you told us.

On another note, I am fully aware of the fact that the Yankees' record is also 9-8, but they have outscored their opponents by thirty-five runs. The Blue Jays have only outscored their opponents by eleven runs. Therefore, we can expect to Yankees to finish the season with a significantly better record than the Blue Jays. In all likelihood, the Blue Jays will finish third in the AL East Division behind the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Colin Cowherd's Dumb Statement of the Day

Colin might want to do some fact checking before he comes on air and says something like it's truth. Today, he partly attributed Randy Johnson's impressive outing yesterday to the Blue Jays being overly aggressive at the plate and "coming out swinging." Randy Johnson is a pitcher for the Yankees.

The Yankees played the Baltimore Orioles yesterday.

Mike Celizic Is An Ignorant Fool

And he would do well not to put his ignorance on display, leaving him open to public ridicule.

I know that Kobe Bryant doesn't need any advice on how to play winning basketball.

So don't try to give him any and I can go on my merry way and not have to read the rest of your article.

All the Los Angeles Lakers needed to steal a game on Phoenix's home court was one player to take the game over. Anytime in the second half would have been fine time to do it. But instead of grabbing hold and not letting go, Kobe stood back and watched.

Yes all Kobe did was stand back and watch and launch twenty-one shots, the most of any player during the game. But to Mike's credit, Kobe did watch fourteen of his shots miss the intended target. But please don't act like Kobe didn't try. To do so is asinine.

He got his 22 points, and they were as quiet a 22 as you'll ever see. But he had just five assists and six rebounds to go with those points.

Just twenty-two points, five assists and six rebounds? You've got to be kidding me. Just twenty-two points, five assists and six rebounds? Because it is so easy to fill out a stat line in that matter that Kobe was the only player in the game to accomplish the feat. Since I am feeling generous this morning, I will even lower the criteria to twenty points, five rebounds, and five assist and see who else could accomplish this ridiculously easy task. The answer is no one.

Most damning, he took just eight free throws, as sure a sign as you can have that he wasn't taking it to the hoop.

Again with your liberal use of the word just. If you didn't already know, when you use the just, it implies that what was accomplished was not noteworthy.

Kobe tied the game-high in free throws attempted, sharing it with three of the eighteen players who played in the game.

And eight free throws is only two less than his season average of ten free throw attempts a game. You fucking idiot.

For the most part, Kobe stood around the perimeter, admiring all the fine work his teammates were doing, applauding their successes and encouraging them after their failures.

That's right. Kobe stood on the perimeter and the six rebounds he accumulated came up to him and jumped into his hands. In fact, Kobe even tried to bat the rebounds away because he in no way wanted to be productive during the game, but the rebounds kept coming back to him so finally he just said fuck it and took the rebounds for his own.

We may not have expected a triple-double, but we did expect James to be the best player on the court. So we went into Sunday, expecting Kobe to do LeBron one better.

We didn't expect Kobe to do LeBron one better. You may have expected Kobe to drop in a quadruple-double, but we live in a place called reality where we know such things will never happen.

It seemed a long shot to think the Lakers would beat the Suns, a team that shoots the ball as well as any ever has.

As well as any ever has? Your penchant for hyperbole is indeed disturbing.

The Suns are barely the best shooting team this year. The Suns only shoot better than the Miami Heat this year by .1%. As in over the course of 1,000 shots, the Suns will hit one more shot than the Heat.

True, the Suns' margin increases over the Heat when you look at effective field goal percentage (53.7% to 51.8%), but I'm sure you have never heard of effective field goal percentage so I am probably wasting my time.

Bryant is the kind of player who will lose a game to make a point.

Right. By scoring a game high twenty-two points, Kobe certainly made his point. He proved he's the best player in the Suns-Lakers series.

If Kobe wants us to believe he's really the best player in the game, he now has to prove it. He didn't get his hands dirty Sunday, didn't go inside, didn't fight for rebounds, didn't get himself to the foul line, didn't draw the defense and hand off for easy baskets by his teammates.

Oh. My. God. The worst part about those two sentences is they were not written on April Fool's Day so Mike Celizic actually believes those things are true.

Get Well Soon, Dad

Oh yeah, Tiger Woods is really taking time off from golf to spend time with his ailing father.

And I'm sure knowing Tiger was able to conquer New Zealand's highest bungee jump sent Earl Woods' cancer right back into remission. Or was it Tiger's victory in a celebrity stock car race?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Western Conference Playoff Breakdown (Dallas vs. Memphis)

Dallas (4) vs. Memphis (5)

By now, the Memphis Grizzlies should be used to losing in the first round, and swept on top of that. In fact, they should damn near be pros at it. This year, the team, who will have the privilege of sending the Memphis Grizzlies home after the first round, is the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas's playoff seed, like that of the Los Angeles Clippers, is very misleading. Dallas actually has the second best record in the Western Conference and is most likely the third best team in the NBA despite what the seed next to its name says. Yet, even though Dallas did experience a large amount of success in the regular season, the games still must be played and the numbers still must be crunched in order to determine which team is more likely to win in this playoff matchup.

Dallas Offense: 112 points per 100 possessions
Memphis Defense: 102 points per 100 possessions

Memphis Offense: 106 points per 100 possessions
Dallas Defense: 105 points per 100 possessions

These statistics indicate Dallas has the more efficient offense between the two. Also, Dallas's defense is more efficient in relation to how efficient its offense is because at the end of 100 possessions, Dallas will be up by seven while Memphis will only be up by four.

Even this is not enough to help determine who will win the playoff series. Another helpful statistic is looking at the net PER ratings per position for each team. The PER rating was developed by John Hollinger.

Point Guard-Starting off the net production matches sees Dallas's point guards quickly taking the lead. They have a net production of +0.9 to Memphis's -1.5. Advantage: Dallas

Shooting Guard-At this position, Memphis has the slightest of advantages over Dallas (+3.9 to +3.6). Advantage: Memphis

Small Forward-Dallas also outproduces Memphis at the small forward position, +0.3 to -0.8. Advantage: Dallas

Power Forward-Dallas's European power forward is better than Memphis's European power forward. In the same vein, Dallas's power forwards outproduce Memphis's power forwards, +8.6 to +1.9. Advantage: Dallas

Center-Memphis bounces back to get more net production out its centers than the Dallas Mavericks does out of theirs (+2.4 to +0.4). Advantage: Memphis

Prediction: Dallas wins this series in no more than five games.

Stats courtesy of

Western Conference Playoff Breakdown (Denver vs. Los Angeles Clippers)

Denver (3) vs. Los Angeles (6)

Because of the convoluted playoff format this season, the Denver Nuggets, by virtue of winning the Northwest Division, has the higher seed, but the Los Angeles Clippers, by virtue of having won more games, has home-court advantage. No, it does not make sense.

Getting past that, though, there is still a playoff series that must be played. Of the three games where these teams faced off against each other, the Los Angeles Clippers won two, which would indicate they would have a decided advantage over the Denver Nuggets.

Denver Offense: 106 points per 100 possessions
Los Angeles Defense: 103 points per 100 possessions

Los Angeles Offense: 105 points per 100 possessions
Denver Defense: 105 points per 100 possessions

The advantage does not look quite so decided anymore. In fact, it is only a slight advantage for Los Angeles in terms of how efficient the teams are.

To decide which team will end up winning this playoff series, we must turn to the PER ratings developed by John Hollinger. This will indicate which team gets the most
net production and subsequently has an advantage over its opponents.

Point Guard-Net PER simply does not lie. The Denver Nuggets get more production from their point guards than Los Angeles does from theirs (+0.9 to -0.1). Advantage: Denver

Shooting Guard-Denver also wins this production battle by having less worse shooting guards than Los Angeles (-1.4 to -4.9). Advantage: Denver

Small Forward-Yet another position where Denver gets more production (+5.2 to -0.3). Advantage: Denver

Power Forward-The Clippers have finally found a position where they have better net production, +9.2, than the Nuggets, -1.0. And what an advantage it is. Advantage: Los Angeles

Center-Cementing the fact that their frontcourt is stronger than Denver's frontcourt, Los Angeles has superior centers to Denver's (+1.3 to +0.1). Advantage: Los Angeles

Prediction: Los Angeles wins this series in seven games mainly because their advantage in the frontcourt trumps Denver's advantage in the backcourt by just enough.

Stats courtesy of

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

Western Conference Playoff Breakdown (San Antonio vs. Sacramento)

San Antonio (1) vs. Sacramento (8)

The defending champion San Antonio Spurs square off against the Sacramento Kings in what promises to be a complete mismatch despite what Ron Artest may think. Yes, San Antonio had its fair share of injuries during the season, but that did not keep them from wrapping up the number one seed in the Western Conference. And it will not keep them from beating the hapless Sacramento Kings in a seven-game series. As far as the season series goes, San Antonio won it 2-1, but the games a team plays in a series are not always indicative of how good or bad a team really is. Therefore, we must take an in-depth look at these two teams' statistics and the net production so we can make sure that the obvious is really so obvious.

San Antonio Offense: 95.6 ppg
Sacramento Defense: 97.4 ppg

Sacramento Offense: 98.9 ppg
San Antonio Defense: 88.8 ppg

As is usually the case when opponents play at varying tempos, these simple statistics do not tell the whole story. They do, however, hint that Sacramento plays better defense than does Sacramento, but we will have a better idea when we equalize the tempo differences by seeing how each team performs per 100 possessions.

San Antonio Offense: 108 points per 100 possessions
Sacramento Defense: 105 points per 100 possessions

Sacramento Offense: 107 points per 100 possessions
San Antonio Defense: 100 points per 100 possessions

Over the long haul, seven games against the same opponent, look for San Antonio's defense to prove too stifling for the Sacrament Kings. The Spurs give up eight points less than they score per 100 possessions, while Sacramento's defense is almost too porous for its offensive output.

Furthermore, the net contributions the Spurs get in relation to the Kings supplies even more evidence of the Spurs' superiority. I will be using the net PER rating devised by John Hollinger.

Point Guard-Tony Parker, the Spurs' primary point guard, beats out Mike Bibby, the Kings' primary point guard, in a match-up that may be overhyped by the media. At least, in terms of net PER, there is no debate about which player helps out his team more. San Antonio's point guards' net production is +3.6, and Sacramento's point guards' net production is +0.7. Advantage: San Antonio

Shooting Guard-Here, the advantage San Antonio holds over Sacramento at this position is even larger than the advantage it enjoys at the point guard spot. San Antonio gets a net production of +5.6 while the Kings get no production at all with a net PER of -0.2. Advantage: San Antonio

Small Forward-The Sacramento Kings, +0.4, get slightly more production from this position than do the San Antonio Spurs, -0.2. Advantage: Sacramento

Power Forward-The net production for the Spurs, +2.6, is not as high as one would think for a team with Tim Duncan on it. However, he has been hurt throughout the season so the Spurs can use that excuse. Sacramento, with a -0.2 net production, has no excuses. Advantage: San Antonio

Center-San Antonio's centers, net production of +0.4, are just good enough to edge Sacramento's centers, net production of +0.1. Advantage: San Antonio

Prediction: San Antonio wins this series in no more than five games.

Stats courtesy of

Eastern Conference Playoff Breakdown (Cleveland vs. Washington)

Cleveland (4) vs. Washington (5)

As expected, this matchup between the fourth and fifth seeds of the Eastern Conference pits two similar teams against one another. Cleveland has the better record, having won eight more regular season games than Washington, but Washington won the season series between the two teams 1-2. However, as is the case with most teams who lock up playoff spots early, Cleveland did not appear to take the last game these two teams played, as evidenced by all twelve active players logging minutes during the game. Since that game is an anomaly because of the minute distribution, it really should not be considered. Therefore, during the season, when both teams were taking games seriously, Cleveland and Washington split their meetings.

Looking closely at the team statistics demonstrates neither team has a considerable advantage over the other.

Cleveland Offense: 97.7 ppg
Washington Defense: 99.9 ppg

Washington Offense: 101.5 ppg
Cleveland Defense: 95.5 ppg

As a quick glance will tell you, these statistics are inconclusive.

Since Washington plays at a faster pace than Cleveland does, averaging three more possessions a game, the only true way to gauge how efficiently both teams play is to look at how many points a team scores and gives up per 100 possessions.

Cleveland Offense: 108 points per 100 possessions
Washington Defense: 107 points per 100 possessions

Washington Offense: 109 points per 100 possessions
Cleveland Defense: 106 points per 100 possessions

There is no great difference between the two teams in terms of efficiency, but there is a difference. While Cleveland's offense basically scores as many points as Washington's defense gives up, Washington's offense holds a three-point edge over Cleveland's defense. This gives Washington a net advantage of +2 points per 100 possessions. In other words, a lay-up.

With a small advantage like that, the series remains a toss-up between these two teams. However, there still remains the little question of who gets the most production out of the five positions. Thanks to John Hollinger for coming up with the PER rating and for being so kind as to post this on the Internet so as to make it free to anyone with a computer.

Point Guard-The Cleveland Cavaliers have gotten absolutely no production from their points guards this season. None. The net production from Cleveland's points guards this year is a horrendous -9.6. Washington, in complete contrast, has Gilbert Arenas, one of the top ten players in the NBA, playing the point guard position. Having Arenas is reflected in the Washington point guards have a net production of +6.8. Advantage: Washington

Shooting Guard-Neither team has an above average shooting guard. What gives Washington the nod when it comes to this position is its shooting guards are average while Cleveland's are below average. The net production of the two teams, -1.7 to -5.0 respectively, bears out the talent disparity between the two teams' shooting guards. Advantage: Washington

Small Forward-Two words. Lebron James. Cleveland's small forward net production of +12.3 certainly gives the team the upper hand over Washington's small forwards, who have a net production of +2.3. Advantage: Cleveland

Power Forward-Like the shooting guard position, neither team gets great production from this position. Or any net positive production. Nevertheless, Cleveland does hold a slight edge over Washington in this category at -0.2 to -0.5. Advantage: Cleveland

Center-At this position, Cleveland holds a substantial margin over Washington. The net production of Cleveland's centers is +6.9. The net production of Washington's centers is -1.9. You do the math. Advantage: Cleveland

Prediction: Although, Cleveland has an individual advantage at three positions, the total net advantage in terms of production goes to Washington with +0.6. So it looks like Lebron James will have to wait another year to win his first playoff series, unless Eric Snow, Cleveland's point guard, can continue to out-produce his season average like he did in the first game. Washington wins the playoff series in six or seven games.

Stats courtesy of