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[Insider] Desired Western Conference Playoff Matchups (OKC, SA would rather avoid us)

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by senter, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. senter

    senter Member

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    Article from ESPN:

    As we saw last week when looking at paths to the Eastern Conference finals, matchups matter in the NBA playoffs -- a lot. So shouldn't the best teams be able to choose their opponents? That's the logic the NBA D-League has applied to its postseason since 2009. The three D-League division champs get their choice of opponents, with the remaining two teams facing each other.

    Let's take a look at what the Western Conference's top teams might choose if given that option, with one slight adjustment -- instead of using the three division champs, let's take the best three teams regardless of record as is the case with NBA seeding. We'll also look at the matchups each West playoff contender wants to see and those to avoid.

    As with last week's column, I'm quantifying each team's chances of winning a given playoff matchup based on the historical relationship between head-to-head record -- a surprisingly important factor -- and point differential to series outcomes.

    1. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Want to See: Utah Jazz (97.7 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: Houston Rockets (87.3 percent chance of advancing)

    ESPN colleague Marc Stein inspired this topic by arguing on Twitter Tuesday night that whoever claims the top seed in the Western Conference would prefer to avoid the talented Lakers in the opening round. Kobe Bryant agreed after the Lakers beat New Orleans to move closer to a playoff spot, telling reporters, "You can't find an opponent that's really excited about playing us in the first round. That's just the truth."

    Alas, the numbers don't back that up. Oklahoma City would be at least a 95 percent favorite against either eighth seed, making the Lakers (or better yet the Utah Jazz) the choice over the Golden State Warriors. The worst-case scenario from the Thunder's standpoint would be slipping to second and seeing the Houston Rockets finish seventh. While Oklahoma City would still be a heavy favorite in that scenario, the Thunder can't relish the prospect of seven games against former star James Harden.

    Looking further ahead, Oklahoma City would hate to see the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets won the season series 3-1 and injured Danilo Gallinari wasn't a major factor in the four games, shooting just 31.1 percent from the field. In the semifinals, the Los Angeles Clippers look like a much more favorable matchup for the Thunder than the bruising Memphis Grizzlies, who took the series 2-1 and won in Oklahoma City in November.

    Pick: Lakers (95.5 percent chance of advancing)/Jazz

    2. San Antonio Spurs

    Want to See: L.A. Lakers (97.5 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: Houston Rockets (83.2 percent chance of advancing)

    The uncertain health of guards Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker has made the Spurs somewhat vulnerable to a first-round upset, but not likely against the Lakers, against whom they are 2-0. Their chances may be overstated because both head-to-head wins were close (San Antonio won by a combined five points, with one matchup remaining on Sunday in L.A.), but the Spurs have lost to each of the other lower playoff teams in the West.

    In this draft scenario, either the Lakers or the Jazz would be off the board. That leaves San Antonio taking Golden State because of Houston's superior point differential this season.

    Pick: Golden State Warriors (87.0 percent chance of advancing)

    3. Denver Nuggets

    Want to See: Houston Rockets (87.9 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: L.A. Clippers (68.0 percent chance of advancing)

    The opportunity to make the last pick among opponents would be another benefit for whichever team among the Nuggets, L.A. Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies finishes third in the West. Because of the big gap between the conference's top five teams and the bottom three, the Rockets would be the near-certain pick for any third seed. However, nobody would enjoy that opportunity more than Denver, which swept Houston 4-0 head-to-head and just handed the Rockets an 18-point loss in the first game without Gallinari. The free-flowing game Houston prefers is ideal for the Nuggets, who love to push the tempo at altitude.

    There are plenty of good matchups for Denver, which won the season series against every West playoff team except San Antonio. The Nuggets can still even up the record with the Spurs by winning tonight's possible playoff preview, televised on ESPN.

    Pick: Rockets

    4. L.A. Clippers

    Want to See: Houston Rockets (77.0 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: Denver Nuggets (58.4 percent chance of advancing)

    The Clippers surely want to make up the two-game deficit on the Nuggets to claim the third seed, but a first-round matchup against the Warriors would be no picnic for the Pacific Division champs. Golden State won three of the four meetings this season. In some ways, a rematch of last year's series with Memphis might be better for the Clippers. They've won two of the three games against the Grizzlies, but visit Memphis this Saturday in a game that could determine home-court advantage if they end up facing each other.

    5. Memphis Grizzlies

    Want to See: Golden State Warriors (91.3 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: Denver Nuggets (50.6 percent chance of advancing)

    More than any other team in the West, the Grizzlies' chances of winning their first-round series depend on the matchup. Memphis would be nearly twice as likely to beat the Warriors as the third seed than the Nuggets. In fact, because of Denver's 3-1 head-to-head edge, a Grizzlies-Nuggets series would be a toss-up even if Memphis had home-court advantage. So if the Grizzlies can't get up to third, they'd prefer Denver stay there and on the opposite side of the bracket.

    6. Golden State Warriors

    Want to See: L.A. Clippers (31.3 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: Oklahoma City Thunder (5.8 percent chance of advancing)

    The Warriors have gone a combined 6-11 against the five teams they might see in the first round of the playoffs, a bad sign for their chances of advancing. The exception, as noted above, is their 3-1 record against the Clippers. There's some lingering NorCal-SoCal bad blood between the two teams dating to Golden State celebrating a blowout win over the Clippers in early January. The Clippers responded with a blowout of their own at home, but the Warriors completed the season series by winning the final matchup a few weeks later.

    7. Houston Rockets

    Want to See: Memphis Grizzlies (27.8 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: Denver Nuggets (12.1 percent chance of advancing)

    Because of James Harden and a fleet of 3-point shooters, Houston won't be an easy out for any team in the first round. Still, the Rockets have struggled against the West's better teams. They have a chance to even up the season series with Memphis by winning a showdown at the Toyota Center this Friday, but already have lost the head-to-head matchup to every other top-five West team. And, as noted, Houston wants no part of Denver in the playoffs.

    8a. L.A. Lakers

    Want to See: Oklahoma City Thunder (4.5 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: San Antonio Spurs (2.5 percent chance of advancing)

    Based on those percentages of the Lakers pulling the upset, is the eighth seed really worth so much effort? Well, they're still much higher than the Lakers' chances of winning a series from the lottery, and with next year's pick already traded, the only potential damage is the mileage Kobe Bryant is putting on his knees playing heavy minutes down the stretch.

    The Lakers' chances against San Antonio are slightly understated because of their meeting this Sunday. A Lakers win would push their percentages in that matchup all the way to 14.7 percent. Of course, a Lakers victory also would make it all the more likely that Oklahoma City finishes first in the West. And while the Lakers' home win over the Thunder in January might have been their best performance of the season, they still have shown no ability to play at such an elite level on a regular basis. It's hard to take the Lakers seriously as a postseason dark horse when they keep struggling to put away teams like New Orleans at home.

    8b. Utah Jazz

    Want to See: San Antonio Spurs (12.5 percent chance of advancing)
    Don't Want to See: Oklahoma City Thunder (2.3 percent chance of advancing)

    The Jazz got a look at a possible playoff matchup Tuesday, losing 90-80 to the Thunder at home. A Utah-Oklahoma City series has all the makings of a sweep. The Jazz have a better chance of making things interesting against San Antonio, having won the only meeting at home and taken the Spurs to overtime on the road.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/PerDiem-130410/nba-western-conference-playoff-matchups
     
    3 people like this.
  2. kaitanuva

    kaitanuva Member

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    inb4 we'll figure Denver out somehow because they have no superstar

    :rolleyes:
     
  3. OTMax

    OTMax Member

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    Everybody agrees the Nuggets are a bad match up for us. Fans here still want them after hearing and reading from many different analysts, sports people and other fans that they are a team we really do not want to face??
     
  4. andersongo

    andersongo Member

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    According to clutchfans received wisdom, you've got to have a superstar to win in the post-season. Nuggets have none while we've got Harden, Denver are scared now!
     
  5. Chamillionaire

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    Anybody but the nuggets please. George karl's got our number since the Seattle days.
     
  6. ahhh

    ahhh Member

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    GS must be dreading that 7th seed. With the remaining games we should overtake GS. We are a better team, we deserve the 6th spot, and let the chips fall where they may and play whoever ends up 3rd.

    Against Denver that's a 1 in 9 chance. Honestly that's not even that bad. They are basing the odds on regular season games. But in the playoffs you never want to go against Pop, and OKC will know Harden's game more than we do. Let me remind you there's still a chance for Memphis to overtake Denver. So let's just play our game and stop being pussies trying to avoid teams.
     
  7. RedEyesKirby

    RedEyesKirby Member

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    Please give us the Clippers! We have a great chance against the clippers! They have a bad coach (which is crucial in a playoff series) and a dysfunctional egoistic team who gets into each others face when they lose. (Lol@ Griffin and DeAndre and CP3)

    If we manage to get to game 6, I can see us taking it all the way beating the first round.

    Come on get us Clippers!
     
  8. Gil

    Gil Member

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    I'd still rather face the Nuggets over OKC.

    I'm fine with the banged up Spurs OR Nuggets. Just anyone but the Thunder.
     
  9. AvgJoe

    AvgJoe Contributing Member

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    Denver Nuggets
    Don't Want to See: L.A. Clippers (68.0 percent chance of advancing)

    L.A. Clippers
    Don't Want to See: Denver Nuggets (58.4 percent chance of advancing)

    68.0%+58.4% = 126.4% =======> FAIL...
     
  10. Karolik

    Karolik Member

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    The Thunder don't want to see us?

    Laughable :eek:
     
  11. arjun

    arjun Member

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    i think the conclusion is between the rockets, lakers, jazz, warriors..they wouldn't want to see us.

    that being said...if i was any team in the top half, i'd rather play the rockets tahn the lakers...who wants to see kobe in the playoffs?
     
  12. REDNINJA

    REDNINJA Member

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    The best match up for us is San Antonio. Let be real OKC is the best team in the west, we might get one game but the Thunder will dominate the series. The Clippers are the most evenly matched for us so that match up is a push. Denver will rape and pillage this team with their speed and athleticism. The Spurs are old and slow, with Pat Beverly containing Tony Parker the Rockets can beat them in six games. The only question is will Hardens ankles hold up. So I'm hoping the spurs lose three out of their last five and the thunder keep winning so we can see Lakers vs Thunder again and that would be awesome because if we can beat the Spurs and the Lakers beat the Thunder we could get to the WCF cause the Lakers will be completely gassed from the series. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Bring on the Spurs!!!
     
  13. Fullcourt

    Fullcourt Contributing Member

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    OKC Doesn't care. Speaking purely on percentages, they want to face us the least of the bottom teams of the bracket.
     
  14. kjayp

    kjayp Contributing Member

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    That's what I noted... was gonna make the observation - and see ya beat me too it.

    agree, FAIL - article has lost all credibility...next.
     
  15. WinkFan

    WinkFan Contributing Member

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    You need Superstars to win championships. That doesn't mean having 1 superstar and a bunch of role players will get you out of the first round.
     
  16. LosPollosHermanos

    LosPollosHermanos MoRley only Fan
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    Some of you guys are r****ded and just look at win/loss columns. All we have to do is steal 1 Away game at Denver. They are playing on pure energy right now and Wilson Chandler isn't going to play like MJ every night. If Lawons remains out that is our ONLY chance at the 2nd ronud.
     
  17. peter2012

    peter2012 Member

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    LOL @ lakers' advance chance.
     
  18. DBRox

    DBRox Contributing Member

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    Iggy though, he worries me the most.
     
  19. ling ling

    ling ling Member

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    That stat doesn't state which team has the home court.
     
  20. Rip Van Rocket

    Rip Van Rocket Contributing Member

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    I really don't care who the Rockets play. But, I think it would be the most fun for the Rockets to play and beat OKC. I really expect the Rockets to get pounded by anyone they play in the first round, so I'm not too concerned about who they play. I just hope the Rockets players come back next year hungrier than ever, and realize that they have to play some defense to advance very far in the playoffs.
     
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