FanPost

The Fallacy of Relying on Regular Season Records in the Playoffs.

Traditionally speaking, it is safe to say that higher seeded teams are favored and should be favored to win the playoff series they find themselves in against lower seeded teams. This year's playoffs really haven't done anything to contradict that assumption seeing that 7 of the 8 series being played so far have seen the home team win the opening game and have exposed the weaknesses of the lower seeded teams. However, that is not the only assumption the media seems to be working off of in regards to the Phoenix-Portland series.


Quite a few times now I have heard media members and fans parrot the notion that simply because Phoenix had a hot streak in the second half of the season and finished with a better record that it is safe to expect Phoenix to play at that same level against Portland in the post-season and thus the media has overlooked Portland. There are two reasons why that kind of analysis is illogical, if not just plain lazy.


1. Portland's injury-laced team still won 50 games while Phoenix had virtually no major injuries to speak of during the season and only won 4 more. It can be argued that without Roy's hamstring injury, this team would more than likely have taken some of the games they lost in that stretch and could have finished with the same record they ended last season with. Portland without the injuries is a fairytale I know, but it is a fairytale with an ending that makes the seeding argument much less appealing.


2. The famed hot-streak that Phoenix experienced during the regular season did not occur against Portland. Portland won the season series against Phoenix, regardless of the results of the final contest in the regular season, which means that Phoenix' hot-streak is meaningless when evaluating this playoff series. In fact, Phoenix and Portland only played one game during the vaunted hot-streak and even in that game Portland had control until the last half of the fourth quarter when they fell because of poor execution against a defensive scheme - something Portland has since proven they can overcome - not because of any real superiority of Phoenix.


Phoenix was known this season - as they have been in previous seasons during the Steve Nash era - as a running team with an explosive offense. Portland is seen as a team that plays only half-court offense and thus is slow. However, we have very fast players who can get back on defense against a running team and that factor alone changes the expectations of how much Phoenix should be able to run and "explode" offensively. So, what happens when a running offense meets a team that prides themselves on good defense while also matching up well against nearly every facet of that vaunted offensive system? You get the results as shown in game 1 of this series and you get it consistently if the Blazers continue to focus on and execute transition defense.


Thus the media's analytical process is riddled with holes. They haven't paid attention to Portland's remarkable record or how they achieved it. They haven't paid attention to Phoenix' weaknesses but have simply assumed that performances against teams that haven't been capable of slowing them down are indicative of what should happen against Portland, a team that almost swept the Suns during the regular season and additionally, they have looked at Roy's injury as something that would produce a statistical hiccup for Portland, when in fact the team is - due to the numerous injuries - probably more equipped to overcome the absence than any other team in the Playoffs this season, which makes it much less of a problem than the media portrays it to be.

I smell a first round win.

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