Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 7, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Earlier this week, we looked at offensive and defensive efficiency for teams trying to make the Eastern conference playoffs. Today, we’ll do the same thing in the West…though it’s possible the West has already been decided!
Golden State just owned #3 seed Houston at Houston
Golden State then devoured the very soul of #2 seed San Antonio at San Antonio, on night two of a back-to-back
Oh, they did that without superstar Kevin Durant, who’s due to return to the lineup this weekend. A year ago at this time, a Golden State championship seemed a virtual sure thing. But, injuries in the playoffs made them just barely vulnerable enough to lose to Cleveland. This year, they’re better suited to deal with that because of the addition of Durant. They’re obviously a championship level team already without him!
We’ll follow the format of that earlier article, going in order of the projected seedings. The rankings you see below are for “efficiency” on both sides of the floor. That’s simply scoring adjusted for pace.
GOLDEN STATE: #1 on offense, #2 on defense
It’s better understood now than it used to be…but Golden State is very much a “defense wins championships” team that also happens to be great on offense. They play high scoring games because of a very fast pace. But, they also get a lot of steals, blocked shots, and defensive rebounds that come from playing passionate defense (particularly in their most important games). This team was the total package even before adding Durant.
SAN ANTONIO: #7 on offense, #1 on defense
The Spurs still play the best overall team defense in the league. But, too many of their offensive weapons are aging (or retired!). Kawhi Leonard can’t do it all himself. And, the more you become a one-man team, the less likely you are to win in the playoffs when smart opponents can emphasize stopping that one man. It was a lot easier to think the Spurs had a real chance in the West before that disappointing home loss to the Warriors.
HOUSTON: #2 on offense, #13 on defense
Houston is doing some very interesting things this year. Though, much of it is a throwback to Mike Dantoni’s days in Phoenix. James Harden is Steve Nash. There are more three-point specialists on this team than his old Suns. But, the same issues apply. Not enough defense. And, the likelihood that the horse he’s trying to ride like Secretariat breaks down from fatigue at the worst possible time. Still…if Rockets’ shooters can stay hot for a couple of weeks, things could get very interesting.
UTAH: #12 on offense, #3 on defense
The Jazz definitely have a championship caliber defense…and would have been an ideal playoff fit for the way the game was played a few years ago. Not enough weapons to hang with Golden State, who they’d face in the second round if they can get past the LA Clippers in the first.
LA CLIPPERS: #5 on offense, #16 on defense
There are stretches where the Clippers look as good as anybody. But, that league average defense just isn’t going to be enough to last more than a round in the playoffs. Too bad more hasn’t become of the Chris Paul, Blake Griffin era. A bunch of TV commercials and that’s about it!
OKLAHOMA CITY: #17 on offense, #8 on defense
As much hype as Russell Westbrook is getting this season for all of his triple doubles, this team is in the playoffs because of an above average defense…not an average offense. That’s one of the most overlooked stories of the season. OKC plays defense! Everyone’s looking forward to the likely OKC/Houston matchup in the first round. Can OKC do a better job of stopping Harden than Houston does of stopping Westbrook?
MEMPHIS: # 18 on offense, #6 on defense
A slightly worse version of Utah. But, one that has a good playoff pedigree because defense is so important in the postseason. Can they give San Antonio a tough first round? You bet they can. They just went overtime with the Spurs the other night. And, San Antonio may have lost some of its mojo from that humiliating home loss to what should have been a tired Warriors team.
PORTLAND: #11 on offense, #23 on defense
Portland has a 1.5 game lead for the #8 seed as this article goes online. With three to play for them, and four to play for the Nuggets, there’s work to be done. All three Blazers games are at home, which very much puts them in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, there’s no way a below average defense has much of a chance to scare the Warriors in the first round.
DENVER: #4 on offense, #29 on defense
There are only 30 teams in the NBA, and Denver is technically tied for last place with the LA Lakers on defense. Kind of a travesty that a defense this bad can reach the playoffs! But, there are enough weaklings in the West that mediocrity has a shot to at least reach the brackets. Unless Portland chokes away their home games, the Nuggets won’t earn the honor to allow 130 points per playoff game to the Warriors.
We have to admit that there may not be much drama in the Western brackets this season. But, the point to sports handicapping is to GET THE MONEY, not watch soap operas. JIM HURLEY will be sure you crack the markets to make the most of this NBA postseason. Use these last few days of the regular season to build your bankrolls.
BEST BETS are available daily right here at the website for credit card purchase. If you have any questions about extended service, please call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 to take care of business. Be sure you ask about extended packages that take you through the NBA Playoffs and summer MLB.
The stage is set for the NBA Playoffs….which are now just a week away. As the weather warms…keep enjoying those BIG, JUICY WINNERS with JIM HURLEYS’ NETWORK!