The Dream Shake - a Houston Rockets blog: Hey, Sports Guy... you're On Notice, too!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hey, Sports Guy... you're On Notice, too!

For someone who claims to be a rather knowledgeable NBA fan... Bill Simmons can be amazingly stupid when it comes to basic basketball analysis. And yet he wants to be GM of the Bucks. Sure.

(And yes, I am aware I can always just link to his "the Magic will regret taking Dwight Howard over Emeka Okafor" statement after the 2004 NBA draft - but that's too easy.)

Today's randomly dumb statement about the Houston Rockets? Aww, screw it, let's post the whole thing:

3. HOUSTON (48-23)

Scouting report: They won 22 straight games thanks to great chemistry, great defense, great ball movement, a super-easy schedule, a couple of breaks (like Nowitzki's one-game suspension) and some inspired play from T-Mac and Rafer Alston ... in the big scheme of things, it's not going to matter because any team with size (like Phoenix) or superior team defense (like San Antonio or Boston) is going to beat them ... whatever happens in the playoffs, it's absolutely astonishing how much they don't miss Yao Ming.

Biggest strength: Chemistry and defense. That's how you win 22 straight. And by the way, that was freaking amazing. I still can't get over that streak. No matter how easy their schedule was, for a team without superior talent to get by 22 straight teams without getting derailed by one bad break, one bad call, one white-hot shooting performance, one injury or one off-night is absolutely unfathomable. That was like watching someone catch fire at a craps table for two solid hours without crapping out.

Biggest weaknesses: Lack of size; lack of anyone who can create scoring opportunities other than T-Mac; lack of playoff success for their best player; lack of overall talent. Other than that, they're in good shape.

Biggest X-Factor: Rafer Alston. Just look at his month-by-month splits and throw in the fact that he's been playing fantastic defense. Where did these last two months come from? Frankly, I'm a little frightened. I like things to make sense and this makes absolutely no sense.

Unsung Hero: According to John Hollinger's PER ratings, Shane Battier is the 45th best small forward in the league right now. I give up. Uncle. I can't fight the good fight anymore. Somebody else needs to take over.

Best-case opponent: Golden State or Denver.
Worst-case opponent: Everyone else.

Prediction: The sixth seed and a thrashing from San Antonio in round one.

Eventual 2007-08 Legacy: For the rest of eternity, they'll show that "Longest NBA Winning Streaks" graphic during an NBA game and viewers will say, "'72 Lakers, '08 Rockets, '00 Lakers, '71 Bucks ... wait a second, what????"


Where to begin?

Let's see... during that 22 game winning streak... the Rockets beat Cleveland (twice), New Orleans (twice), Denver, Dallas, Portland, Golden State AND the Lakers. So, ten of those 22 games were against some of the better teams in the NBA, including 4-5 of the teams that will make the Western Conference playoffs. And we did 45% of that without Yao. But yeah, it was about the schedule. Sure.

Everyone wants to rip on our supposed lack of talent. Simmons, Ian Thomsen, SAS, etc. To hell with 'em. While Rafer is definitely a question mark... T-Mac, Luis Scola, Carl Landry, Battier and Bobby Jackson are rather skilled specimens when it comes to the ability to play basketball. You don't win 22 games in a freakin' row in the NBA just because you are lucky and try hard.

So according to SG we're only in good shape if we play Golden State or Denver. Even though we've shown we can beat Dallas (who is without Dirk again) in Dallas, the Lakers AND New Orleans - all without the services of Mr. Yao Ming.

What it should say: "best-case - anyone but San Antonio." I legitimately believe we are in good shape to play and defeat anyone in a 7-game series. Even the Spurs. I'd prefer to avoid San Antonio as long as possible though.

Also, since it appears that Simmons lacks an editor - the last comment about the Streaks - the order should be '72 Lakers, '08 Rockets, '71 Bucks and then the '00 Lakers. The team he wants to be GM for won more in a row than the Shaq/Kobe Lakers. You thought Simmons would know that. And we all thought wrong.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out this little nugget at the end of his column today... "Whether [Kobe Bryant] wins the MVP award or Chris Paul wins it, we haven't seen two better individual seasons in the same year since Jordan and Barkley in 1993."

WTF? Yo, Sports Guy - Hakeem Olajuwon should have been MVP in 1992-1993. Look at the freakin' stats! Jordan won the ring that year, yes (thanks for nothing Kenny Smith), but Hakeem was DPOY and was clearly better than Barkley. He just didn't give as good a sound bite.

Enough hating on the Rockets, Simmons.
But I guess I should expect nothing less from a bitter Clippers fan.


andy said...

Simmons is amusing at his best but also frequently irritating. This season, though...maybe it's because he's got his head too far up the Celtics' collective asses to see straight but he's become downright insufferable.

That's okay, though. More bulletin board material for the Rockets.

Patrick said...

Simmons article was ridiculous. You can tell that he's only been watching the Warriors, Lakers, and Suns out West with some New Orleans thrown in. The only Rockets' games he's watched are probably the two Boston games and probably that Lakers game at the end of the streak (if he wasn't watching NCAA basketball.

First, Strength of Schedule of NBA teams this year:

Houston has had the 2nd toughest schedule in the league, only trailing Memphis so far.

Patrick said...

Also, I did some number crunching since I can't find it anywhere else.

I took the top 7 teams in the NBA as of last night's games (Boston, Detroit, New Orleans, LA Lakers, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix) and tried to find their best 22 game runs this year. I then tried to find out their opponents's records during the streak and made note of when they played the top 16 teams (16 teams were above .500, Toronto was 35-35 and not included). Here's what I came up with

Houston: 1/29-3/16
Opponents: 735-811 (47.5%) 10 games against top 16
Record during streak: 22-0

Boston: 11/2-12/16
Opponents: 710-840 (45.8%) 8 games against top 16
Record during streak: 20-2

Detroit: 11/23-1/4
Opponents: 751-796 (48.5%) 9 games against top 16
Record during streak: 19-3

Lakers: 1/29-3/11
Opponents: 669-880 (43.2%) 7 games against top 16
Record during streak: 18-4

New Orleans: 12/4-1/28
Opponents: 720-830 (46.5%) 11 games against top 16
Record during streak: 18-4

San Antonio: 1/21-3/6
Opponents: 739-807 (47.8%) 8 games against top 16
Record during streak: 18-4

Phoenix: 11/6-12/17
Opponents: 722-828 (46.6%) 9 games against top 16
Record during streak: 16-6

*Note*: I took the best possible record over 22 games. If there was two or more such instances, I took the streak that included the toughest opponents.

Note #2: Detroit and San Antonio had a tougher schedule per percentage points, but both didn't play as many top 16 teams. New Orleans played more top 16 teams but had a weaker overall schedule.

Note #3: Boston's streak was their first 22 games when everyone was going crazy over them (inlcuding Simmons) when they went 20-2.

Patrick said...

Last post for right now. I went back and found the 71-72 Lakers schedule and decided to come up with their strength of schedule during the 33-game streak:

Link to schedule:

Opponents: 1285-1421 (47.5%)
15 of the 33 wins came against the top 8 teams (17 teams in the league, 8 over .500).

Opponents during Rocckets' streak: 47.5% winning percentage and 45.5% of games against +.500 teams

Opponents during 71-72 Lakers' streak: 47.5% winning percentage and 45.5% of games against +.500 teams.

Anonymous said...

I noticed Bill loves to bash Yao, probably because Bill said Yao would be a total bust and Rockets should have taken Jay Williams.

grungedave said...

Patrick, that is some out-freakin'-standing work there, sir!

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