Now that the dust has settled in the wild, wild West, lets dive deeper into the Mavericks 1st Round opponent- The Portland Trailblazers.
The Blazers have proven to be a tough opponent for Dallas thus far with an average ADS+ of 10.9 in the season series. A season series that resulted in a 2-2 split, an average margin of victory less than 5 points, and both teams taking care of business on their home floor.
Portland should be set to go with an 8 man rotation that has scoring threats from all places and a very good inside-out game. With the addition of Gerald Wallace, the Blazers are the only team in the NBA to have 6 different players on its roster average 12 PPG or higher for the season.
Dallas isn't lacking an abundance of scorers either. In fact, for the first time since 2002, Dallas will be heading into the postseason with a legitimate center that averaged double digits throughout the regular season- Tyson Chandler (the last one was Raef LaFrentz).
If you're still unsure whtehr shooting closer to the basket should be a concern for Dallas, especially in the playoffs, here are a couple of stats from the regular season to help paint a picture.
Quick Stat 1: When the Mavs ADS+ is under 11 they are 7-1 and average 103 PPG.
Quick Stat 2: When the Mavs ADS+ is over 14, they are 1- 5 and average 88 PPG.
Quick Stat 3: The Mavs were 14-3 in games they posted a lower ADS+ total than their opponent this season.
What should be a hard-fought and grueling series, has no shortage of intriguing matchups to analyze using the ADS. Let’s take a look at a positional break down of the Mavericks and Blazers to see how these players matchup based on their season series.
This looks to be a scary matchup for Dallas defensively with the Blazers guards all under an ADS+ of 12 for the season series. Marion helps neutralize Wallace, but matchup’s for Kidd and Terry are concerning.
Kidd’s ADS+ is 18.15 against Portland, and his counterpart Miller shoots 7ft closer on average against him. Miller is not much of a 3pt threat, but you still don’t want to rely on Kidd, Barea, or Terry having to guard him in and around the paint for shots.
On the other hand, Matthews is a very versatile guard that despite averaging 4 3P-A per game against Dallas, still manages an ADS+ of 11.13 against the Mavs (he went 10 of 16 for 63% from behind the arc in 4 games). The fact that 16 of his 37 total FG-A’s (43.2%) against Dallas were shots 23ft and beyond, yet he still managed an ADS+ of 11.3, suggests he has no problem getting to the rim either.
Kidd has pretty much been relegated to 3pt land and Terry's average is built up of 3's and long range jumpers. The guards combine for a lot of low percentage shots and if they arent hitting that usually spells trouble for Dallas.
Conclusion: Advantage Portland
Chandler brings something to Dallas they have never had the luxury of in their 11 straight seasons of 50+ wins, an inside presence. Tyson Chandler has been extremely effective against Portland. He has an ADS+ of 2.9 and is averaging 12 PPG which is far superior to what Camby has been able to put up. He is also averaging 81% from the field, well above his season average.
Given the fact that the Blazers lack depth at center and Camby is going into this series wearing his age on his sleeve, I like the matchup this presents offensively for Dallas by comparison.
What a matchup here at the PF position between Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge. This matchup concerns me a little for Dirk given the number of looks the Blazers want Aldridge to have against Dallas (assuming he’s matching up on Aldridge most of the time).
Almost a third of Portland’s possessions resulting in a FG-A (91 of 322) were fed through Aldridge when facing the Mavericks this season. That’s a lot of defensive work for a guy who really doesn’t have a backup you want to see in the game during the playoffs. Once again this is only a concern if Dirk is spending a lot of time defensively against him.
Dirk is averaging 3 less FG-A per game and 1.3 PPG than his season averages against the Trailblazers. Hopefully this is not a result of an increased work load on defense having to matchup with Aldridge. His ADS+ of 12.83 is slightly under his season total of 13.1, which is always a positive.
Dirk is Dirk though and he will get his shots. Lets just hope that he can get his shots closer to the rim than he has thus far this season.
Given the average ADS+ (Mavs-7.87 & Blazers-7.96) and PPG (Mavs -34 & Blazers-33.3) of the post players are practically identical, I will take the group that fields a former MVP and depth and scoring at the center position.
Conclusion: Advantage Dallas
One thing is clear when looking at this chart and that is the Mavericks have a lot more options coming off the bench. One distinct advantage the Mavs will boast is depth at the true center position.
Haywood played with an average ADS+ of 3.8 against Portland this season. If he can come in a consistently make the Blazers guard a legitimate player in the post, that will help open up other opportunities for the Mavs to get better shots closer to the basket.
On the other side, the Blazers have some fire power coming off the bench. With an average ADS+ of 12.5 this is another group of guys capable of hitting the 3 ball as well as getting to the rim. The positive side is that Batum, Roy, and Fernandez have PPG averages lower than their regular season totals when facing Dallas.
The same can be said about the Mav’s in Barea, Stevenson, Beaubois, and Stojakovic in that they all are capable of providing major fire power on any given night for Dallas. Although their ADS+ is 17.3 collectively (15.3 excluding Peja), they do have one guy that seems to match up well against Portland- Roddy B.
In his 2 games against the Blazers he has averaged an ADS+ of 16 and 17 PPG, which the PPG total is well above his season average of 8.4. Even though he is an extreme wild card on when he is on the court, he might be an X-Factor to plug in if the Mavs need a spark off the bench and give the bigger guards of Portland fits defensively.
The Mavs bench provides versatility and depth , while Portland’s bench has the better ADS+. Matching the Mavericks three best bench players and Portland’s three options, I have to give a slight edge to Portland.
Conclusion: Slight Advantage Portland
Here are the overall series statistics comparisons per team:Blazers
|Player||ADS+ (Dallas)||PPG (Dallas)||PPG (Season)||FG% (Dallas)||FG% (Season)|
|Player||ADS+ (Blazers)||ADS+ (Season)||PPG (Blazers)||PPG (Season)||FG% (Blazers)||FG% (Season)|
Overall, this looks like its going to be a pretty tough matchup for Dallas. Portland is a team that knows how to get in the paint at all positions and spreads the ball around to numerous scorers.
Dallas does have a couple of distinct advantages going for them that Portland doesnt. One of them is the Mavericks road record, which is tied for a league best at 28-13. Portland's road record sits under .500 at 18-23.
Hopefully this can result in the Mavericks taking care of business against the Blazers at home (like they did twice in the regular season) and maybe being able to steal one on the road.
An interesting side note, all 1-4 seeds have a road record above .500 and all 5-8 seed have one below .500 in this years playoffs.
One other historical fact, since the Michael Jordan led Bulls won the NBA championship in 1997, only 1 team (2008 Celtics) has won the NBA Championship with a true Center that averaged less than 10 PPG.
This is why taking high percentage shots closer to the basket, resulting in a lower ADS+, is highly beneficial to a deep playoff run. The Mav's have this in Tyson Chandler, something they have not had in a long time.
Granted this is only a 1st Round matchup, but historically successful play inside helps fuel a playoff run. Centers play the closest to the basket and generally have the highest FG% on their team because of where they take their shots. This is where having two quality centers to utilize will help the Mavericks.
It is also important for Dallas to get opportunities at the FT line as well. The NBA league average is right around 76%, resulting in a very high percentage shot. In playoff basketball, as well all remember watching Dwayne Wade, it is hard to beat an opponent that is constantly at the foul line.
The combination of high percentage shots from the field and foul line will result in a lower ADS+ statistic.
Quick Stat 1 (repeat): When the Mavs ADS+ is under 11 they are 7-1 and average 103 PPG.
If the Mavericks want to help their ADS+ and themselves, they should refrain from settling for long distance jumpers and 3 point attempts all too often in this series.