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Just The Sports: 2008-01-20

Just The Sports

Monday, January 21, 2008

Winning Streak vs. Losing Streak

Normally, winning streaks are matched to winning streaks and losing streaks to losing streaks, but the task to be completed in this space is to see which streak, Portland Trail Blazers' thirteen-game winning streak or the ongoing Miami Heat's thirteen-game losing streak, is more noteworthy. In other words, the question to be answered is which streak was more decisive: did the Portland Trail Blazers win bigger or did the Miami Heat lose worse? Thankfully, in the two streaks, we have mirror images so comparison is made even that much easier.

When Portland won their thirteen games in a row, they outscored their opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions, which is an impressive margin of victory over that span of games, but still no competition for the way in which the Miami Heat allowed their opponents to have their way with the team. Over the course of the Heat's losing streak, the end of which seems to be in some far-off future, they have been outscored by 14.0 points per 100 possessions. Even more embarrassingly, the Miami Heat have not even managed to score one point per possession, a feat even the worst NBA teams should be able to accomplish due to the fact they are the best basketball players in the world.

The major difference between the two streaks is what the Trail Blazers allowed their opponents to do on offense and what Miami Heat's opponents held the Miami Heat to on offense. Trail Blazers opponents during the thirteen-game winning streak scored 106.1 points per 100 possessions, 6.8 points per 100 possessions higher than Miami Heat accumulated during their thirteen-game losing streak (99.3). Part of the reason why the Heat struggled so mightily on offense was their inability to rebound their own misses. Their offensive rebounding percentage was only .227 while the Trail Blazer's opponents had an offensive rebounding percentage of .313, allowing them to have fewer possessions, which made them more efficient. This is despite the fact Miami Heat shot slightly better than the Trail Blazer's opponents (51.7 TS% to 51.2 TS%).

Since the Miami Heat have been shorthanded for the majority of the season, there are ready-made excuses for their struggles, but even their injuries were to be expected since they are relying on one star in Shaquille O'Neal whose best days are far behind him and another star in Dwyane Wade who can neither stay healthy nor star in a mathematically correct commercial. When one creates such a flawed roster as Pat Riley has, these are the sorts of decisive losing streaks one has to expect to occur.