FanPost

Sched Ahead Daily Update, Game(s) of 4/8

LAST NIGHT'S GAME(S):

1. Lakers at Denver - The Lakers won the third quarter 27 to 16 after falling behind big in the first half with Kobe in street clothes. For the final three minutes, no team had more than a three point lead. With 44 seconds remaining, Melo used his jumper to draw contact and get to the line. Result: two made free throws for a three point lead. Fisher matched Melo by drawing contact, making two free throws, to bring the score within one. A J.R. Smith free throw and now we're ready for this play: Fisher dancing nonchalantly around the three point line, time expiring, and a half-hearted heave. Melo gets his hand on the ball, which falls to the floor having not even traveled half way to the rim. Great defensive play by Melo, but I'm not sure what Fisher was doing. Maybe he had orders to not send the game to overtime. This game meant as much to Dallas as it did to Denver in the race for a top seed. The Lakers made up for 36.6% shooting by grabbing 17 offensive rebounds.

JSCOT PROJECTIONS (from douglast):

Current Projected Wins

1.  Los Angeles    55-23    58.30

2.  Denver         52-27   54.03

3.  Dallas         51-27   53.65

4.  Utah           51-28   53.25

5.  Phoenix        51-27   52.90

6.  Portland       48-30   50.33

7.  San Antonio    48-30   50.269

8.  Oklahoma City  48-30   50.266




TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS PROJECTIONS 

We've had some fanposts intermittently making "taking care of business" types of projections, but with 4 games or fewer remaining for each team, it makes sense to have some daily updates along this line.

Basically, CAT 4 games are the only types of games any of these playoff teams "should" be losing, and thus, the assumption for these "taking care of business" projections is that each team wins all of its remaining games except for CAT 4 games (away games against teams above .500). I'll apply tiebreakers as accurately as I can.

                 Current   Projected Record     Cat.4 Games Remaining

1   Los Angeles   55-23     59-23                   -0-

2*  Dallas        51-27     54-28              1: @POR

3*  Denver        52-27     54-28                1: @PHO

4*  Utah          51-28     54-28                   -0-

5   Phoenix       51-27     53-29                2: @OKC, @UTA

6** Portland      48-30     51-31                1: @LAL

7** OKC           48-30     51-31                1: @POR

8   San Antonio   48-30     50-32                2: @DEN, @DAL




* Denver beats Utah for NW division (3-1 season series). Dallas then beats Denver based on 2-1 season series

** Portland win by being projected to beat OKC in final meeting, thus winning season series 3-1

REMAINING GAMES - WEST

 

DAL

UTA

PHO

DEN

OKC

SAS

POR

9-Apr

@POR

@NOH

@OKC

PHO

MEM

DAL

10-Apr

@SAC

SAS

@DEN

11-Apr

HOU

@GSW

@LAL

12-Apr

@LAC

MEM

@POR

MIN

OKC

13-Apr

@GSW

DEN

@PHO

14-Apr

SAS

PHO

@UTA

MEM

@DAL

GSW

 

PREVIEW OF TONIGHT'S GAMES

As with my earlier single-game projections, I'm using my own projection calculator (not jscot's) to predict the chance of a win in a particular game:

1. Utah at New Orleans - Utah has a 68% chance to win and leads the series 2-1. Kirilenko remains out indefinitely and has said he just wants to return before the playoffs, a rather modest goal. Chris Paul is out for the final four games of the season due to a ligament tear in his right middle finger (seven week non-surgical recovery). Stojakovic is out indefinitely. Diogu and Marks are out for the season.

2. Phoenix at Oklahoma City - Oklahoma City has a 60% chance to win. The series is tied 1-1, with each team winning once on the road by four or fewer points. Lopez is out.

3. Memphis at San Antonio - San Antonio has a 76% chance to win and leads the series 2-1. George Hill is doubtful. I haven't found any updates since it's been stated that he was out until at least tonight's game, so it is possible he could return. Gasol and Brewer are out (for the remainder of the season).

4. Dallas at Portland - Portland leads the series 3-0 and has a 66% chance to win. Camby has a tweaked hamstring, but the injury isn't believed to be serious. Marion is out indefinitely due to a strained oblique. If the Blazers are considering trying to manipulate its way into a particular playoff matchup (which, despite all my musings, is not very likely), the result of this game may very well solidfy Portland's strategy for the final three games.

 

WHO TO ROOT FOR TONIGHT

A note of caution:

Figuring out who to root for tonight - especially for those rooting for a matchup with Dallas - is complicated by Denver's role in potential tiebreakers.

Quite frankly, before Denver won four in a row, the seeding battle for #2 and #3 in my mind was largely a two-team battle between Utah and Dallas (after tiebreakers: Utah #2, Dallas #3). But if you add Denver to the mix to make it a three-team tie, the result is that Dallas goes up one seed, and Utah drops two seeds (after tiebreakers: Dallas #2, Denver #3, Utah #4). Denver's four wins (including POR at home, OKC on the road, LAL at home) are a game-changer in the seeding battle, particularly because of the effect on tiebreakers. This seeding game is now like trying to play frogger blindfolded (or with a mile high migraine).

The possibility of Dallas as a three seed has taken a serious hit. And the downside to that is that I now have to consider Portland weaseling its way to seventh. And if that's the path Portland should take, there is a further problem: I'm not sure of the best way to get there. Beat Dallas and OKC? Then lose to the Lakers and/or Golden State if necessary? I don't want to have to go there. And to be honest, I won't go there. Portland can be proud however it finishes out the season. Portland has won 16 of its last 21 and is ready as its going to be for the playoffs.

But I'm still going to publish a rooting guide for those interested. You don't have to use it. I'm not even sure I will. So, that said, here is an unscientific guestimate at who you may want to root for tonight (keeping in mind jscot's projections and the "taking care of business" projections).

If you want Portland to take on Dallas in the first round:

Scenario One: Dallas moves toward the #2 seed, Portland toward #7

     1. Utah at New Orleans - New Orleans

     2. Phoenix at Oklahoma City - Oklahoma City

     3. Memphis at San Antonio - Memphis

     4. Dallas at Portland - Dallas (don't you dare!) "preferred" to Portland

     5*. San Antonio at Denver (tomorrow night, 4/10) - Denver

Explanation: Devising a rooting schedule based on trying to maneuver to a particular playoff opponent means that you can't look at each game individually. You have to look at all the games as a combined package. This package maximizes Dallas' chances of getting the two seed while positioning Portland between Oklahoma City and San Antonio. In theory, a Dallas win over Portland is "preferred" because it has the "double advantage" of putting Dallas in the best possible position to get the #2 seed, while "ideally" positioning Portland below Oklahoma City (who is a better candidate than San Antonio for #6 because of their remaining schedules) and San Antonio. It does this by maintaining Portland's tie with San Antonio at the end of the day on Friday due to a Portland and San Antonio loss, and getting Portland into #7 by the end of the day on Saturday.  Even if Dallas loses, it still has the inside track on the #2 seed through a two-way tie with Denver (because of Denver's expected loss to come at Phoenix) or a three-way tie with Denver and Utah.  

Scenario Two: Dallas moves a little toward the #3 seed, Portland toward #6

     1. Utah at New Orleans - Utah

     2. Phoenix at Oklahoma City - Phoenix (Phoenix's presence in a three-team tiebreaker with Dallas rarely affects Dallas' seeding position - the only one I've found where it does is if Denver finishes behind a three-team tie of Phoenix, Dallas and Utah - a very unlikely situation)

     3. Memphis at San Antonio - Memphis

     4. Dallas at Portland - Portland

     5*. San Antonio at Denver (tomorrow night, 4/10): San Antonio

Explanation: Devising a rooting schedule based on trying to maneuver to a particular playoff opponent means that you can't look at each game individually. You have to look at all the games as a combined package. This package maximizes Utah's chances of getting the two seed (because Denver's chances of finishing in an overall tie with Utah and Dallas fall a little below 50/50) while positioning Portland above Oklahoma City and San Antonio.

If you want Portland to take on Phoenix in the first round:

1. Utah at New Orleans - New Orleans

2. Phoenix at Oklahoma City - Phoenix

3. Memphis at San Antonio - Memphis (why not?)

4. Dallas at Portland - Portland

5*. San Antonio at Denver (tomorrow night, 4/10): San Antonio

If you want Portland to take on the Lakers in the first round:

1. Utah at New Orleans - don't care

2. Phoenix at Oklahoma City - Oklahoma City

3. Memphis at San Antonio - San Antonio

4. Dallas at Portland - Portland (don't make me explain why!)

5*. San Antonio at Denver (tomorrow night, 4/10): San Antonio

 

TWO TEAM TIEBREAKERS

Updates to tiebreakers from games yesterday, Games of 4/8

None, but I've added 3-way tiebreakers below. I've also organized the two-team tiebreakers a bit.

 

Two-team tiebreakers between teams projected 2 through 5

DAL/UTA - If both, neither, or just Utah win their division, then Utah wins (season series 2-1). If only Dallas wins its division, then Dallas wins.
DAL/PHO - Dallas wins (season series 2-1)
DAL/DEN - Dallas wins (season series 2-1)
UTA/PHO - If Utah wins NW OR wins final meeting, Utah wins; If Utah doesn't win NW AND loses final meeting, Phoenix will win by virtue of a better in-conference record.
UTA/DEN - Denver wins (season series 3-1)
PHO/DEN - If Denver wins NW OR wins final meeting, Denver wins (W/L Pct. against Western playoff teams). If Phoenix wins final meeting AND Denver does NOT win NW, Phoenix wins.

Two-team tiebreakers between teams projected 6 through 8

OKC/POR - Winner of final meeting will own tiebreaker (Portland by virture of 3-1 season series, OKC by virtue of division record)
OKC/SAS - San Antonio wins (season series 3-1)
POR/SAS - Portland wins (season series 3-0)

Some other two-team tiebreakers that will not likely be needed

DEN/OKC - Denver wins tiebreaker (season series 3-1)
OKC/UTA - OKC wins (season series 3-1)
PHO/OKC - Winner of final meeting will own tiebreakers (2-1 season series)
PHO/SAS - Phoenix wins (season series 2-1)

THREE TEAM TIEBREAKERS

Between teams currently projected 2 through 5

 

1. Phoenix not included (Utah, Dallas, Denver) - 

Games remaining between these teams: 0

Do we currently have enough information to apply the tiebreakers? Yes.

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Dallas, Denver, Utah.

Explanation: Division champions have to be determined first. Dallas is champ of the Southwest. Denver is champ of the Northwest (due to its 3-1 record against Utah this season). That means Utah is the only team not a division champ, and gets the lowest of the three seeds. That leaves a two-team tie between Dallas and Denver. Dallas wins that tiebreaker due to its 2-1 record against Denver.

2. Denver not included (Utah, Dallas, Phoenix) -

Games remaining between these teams: 1: PHO@UTA (4/14)

Do we currently have enough information to apply the tiebreakers? No.

Explanation: First, we don't know whether Denver finishes ahead or behind this pack of three. If Denver finishes ahead of this pack of three, then Utah is not a division champ. If Denver finishes behind this pack of three, then Utah is a division champ. Second, we don't know the outcome of the 4/14 game.

How many scenarios are there? Three.

What are the scenarios, in order of likelihood?

A.        Denver finishes behind the pack

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Utah, Dallas, Phoenix.

Explanation: Utah and Dallas are both division champs. Phoenix is not. Phoenix is the bottom seed. That leaves a two-team tiebreaker between Utah and Dallas, which Utah wins based on its season series (2-1) against Dallas.

B.        Denver finishes ahead of the pack and Utah wins the game on 4/14/10

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Dallas, Utah and Phoenix.

Explanation: Dallas is the only division champ, leaving a two-team tiebreak between Utah and Phoenix, which goes to the winner of the game on 4/14/10. Here, Utah wins that game.

C.        Denver finishes ahead of the pack and Phoenix wins the game on 4/14/10

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Dallas, Phoenix and Utah.

Explanation: Dallas is the only division champ, leaving a two-team tiebreak between Utah and Phoenix, which goes to the winner of the game on 4/14/10. Here, Phoenix wins that game.

3. Dallas not included (Utah, Phoenix, Denver) - 

Games remaining between these teams: 2: DEN@PHO (4/13), PHO@UTA (4/14)

Do we currently have enough information to apply the tiebreakers? No.

Explanation: The winner of the game on 4/14/10 between Phoenix and Utah will determine which of those teams finishes with a higher seed. By the way:  it does not matter whether Dallas finishes ahead or behind this pack of three because Dallas is not in the same division as any of them, meaning Dallas' finish does not effect the division champ status of any of these three.

How many scenarios are there? Two.

What are the scenarios, in order of likelihood?

A.        Utah wins the game on 4/14/10

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Denver, Utah, Phoenix.

Explanation: Denver wins the NW instead of Utah by having won the season series against Utah (3-1). This means that Denver is the only division champ and gets the highest see. That leaves a two-team tiebreaker between Utah and Phoenix, which goes to the winner of the game on 4/14/10. Here, Utah wins that game.

B.        Phoenix wins the game on 4/14/10

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Denver, Phoenix, Utah.

Explanation: Denver wins the NW instead of Utah by having won the season series against Utah (3-1). This means that Denver is the only division champ and gets the highest see. That leaves a two-team tiebreaker between Utah and Phoenix, which goes to the winner of the game on 4/14/10. Here, Utah wins that game.

4. Utah not included (Phoenix, Dallas, Denver) --

Games remaining between these teams: 1: DEN@PHO (4/13)

Do we currently have enough information to apply the tiebreakers? No.

Explanation: First, we don't know whether Utah finishes ahead or behind this pack of three. If Utah finishes ahead of this pack of three, then Denver is not a division champ. If Utah finishes behind this pack of three, then Denver is a division champ. Second, we don't know the outcome of the 4/13 game.

How many scenarios are there? Three.

What are the scenarios?

A.        Utah finishes ahead of the pack and Phoenix wins the game on 4/13

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Dallas, Phoenix, Denver

Explanation: Dallas is the only division champ and finishes with the top seed. That leaves a two-team tiebreaker between Phoenix and Denver, which goes to the winner of the game on 4/13/10. Here, Phoenix wins that game (giving Phoenix the season series 3-1).

B.        Utah finishes ahead of the pack and Denver wins the game on 4/13

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Dallas, Denver, Phoenix

Explanation: Dallas is the only division champ and finishes with the top seed. That leaves a two-team tiebreaker between Phoenix and Denver, which goes to the winner of the game on 4/13/10. Here, Denver wins that game, causing with Phoenix a head-to-head, divisional,  and conference ties, which allows Denver to win with the better W/L percentage against Western Conference playoff teams (Denver is currently 16-9, Phoenix is 9-12).

C.        Utah finishes behind the pack

What is the order of seeding, top to bottom? Dallas, Denver and Phoenix.

Explanation: Dallas and Denver are division champs, while Phoenix is not. Phoenix gets the lowest seed, leaving a two-team tiebreak between Dallas and Denver, which Dallas wins based on the season series (2-1).

 

Between teams currently projected 6 through 8 (Portland/OKC/San Antonio)

Portland has already won that tiebreaker regardless of what happens in the final game against the Thunder. San Antonio will finish second. We'll wait on other ones for a few more days.

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