After yesterday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, the Heat are now 0-6 against the five top teams in the league in win percentage. Most of those losses have been close, but is the Heat’s record against close teams a harbinger of their eventual playoff downfall? Basketball Reference’s Neil Paine has some data that says otherwise:
Here’s the breakdown since the merger (1977-2010):
The team with the better regular-season WPct vs. top-5 teams won the series 65.9% of the time.
The team with the better regular-season WPct vs. top-10 teams won the series 71.8% of the time.
The team with the better WPct vs. teams outside the top 10 won the series 73.2% of the time.
The team with the better regular-season pt diff vs. top-5 teams won the series 69.1% of the time.
The team with the better regular-season pt diff vs. top-10 teams won the series 73.0% of the time.
The team with the better pt diff vs. teams outside the top 10 won the series 71.7% of the time.
The team that played Game 1 at home won the series 74.1% of the time.
The data supports a fairly basic statistical theory: more data is better than less data, and a team’s record against the other 29 teams in the league is more telling than its success against four other teams in the league.
This is one of those things that will be remembered if the Heat lose and forgotten if they won. When the Warriors upset the Mavericks, their 4-0 record against Dallas in the regular season looked like a prophecy. Last season, the Magic took little comfort in their 3-1 regular season record against the Celtics after losing two straight home games to them. The season before that, the fact that the Cavaliers hadn’t lost a single road game to an Eastern Conference team when LeBron James played didn’t stop the Magic from beating them at home in game one.
We’d love to be able to think that regular-season meetings between teams likely to meet in the playoffs can help us predict what will happen in those series, but nothing can change that every playoff series starts with a blank slate.
DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings
The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.
So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?
“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”
“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”
“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”
Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.
And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.
Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?
LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)
NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.
Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.
Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.