Thursday, April 16, 2009

Two Shots

Here are the final standings in the Western Conference:
    1. LAL 65-17
    2. DEN 54-28
    3. SAS 54-28
    4. POR 54-28
    5. HOU 53-29
    6. DAL 50-32
    7. NOH 49-33
    8. UTH 48-34
Let's take a look at two shots from the start and the end of the season.

Nov. 6: Brandon Roy lofts a miracle 30-footer that gives Portland a 101-99 win over Houston in OT:

If Roy misses that prayer, Houston would have home-court advantage instead of Portland. Instead, Portland is the 4 and Houston is the 5. Something to remember if this series goes 7, as it well could.

Apr. 15: Last night, Michael Finley comes off of a Tim Duncan back screen and buries a contested three to send the game vs. New Orleans into OT, a game the Spurs would eventually win 105-98:

Now, if Finley and the Spurs can't perfectly execute that play, look at what it would have done to the Western Conference seedings (actual seedings in parens):
    1 LAL (1)
    2 DEN (2)
    3 POR (4)
    4 HOU (5)
    5 SAN (3)
    6 NOH (7)
    7 DAL (6)
    8 UTH (8)
Five seeds change, and three out of four matchups are different. On one shot!

San Antonio is living a charmed life right now, with two consecutive last-second saves, not to mention a couple game-saving shots from Roger Mason Jr., and a couple from Tony Parker during the season.

No matter what their experience is, I think that playing San Antonio without Ginobili is still one of the preferred matchups in the West.

As such, I think the Finley shot last night was a huge boost for the Spurs and the Mavs, and a tough blow for the Blazers and the Rockets, who are the two best teams outside the Lakers in the West right now, in my opinion, even though it's quite close.

If *both* of these shots miss, then Houston is a 2 seed instead of a 5.

Obviously, this is a highly arbitrary exercise. The West was so close that dozens of shots could have been selected to make similar mischief. Still, it's just kind of incredible that, out of a 1200+-game season, you could point to, say, 10 last-second shots, and if the results changed, we'd have completely different playoff seedings and matchups.

While we're on the topic, we'd also point out that the March 28 game between Utah and Phoenix - when the Suns rallied from a 21-point deficit in the third, only to blow a 7-point lead with 2 minutes left and lose in OT - proved to be decisive in the race for the 8 spot. If Phoenix had held on, both teams would have ended up 47-35, with the Suns holding a 3-1 edge.


At 12:12 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

That is truly unbelievable. My dad was at that Blazers-Houston game to see that shot, I just watched on television, and I was going insane! It was amazing, a total miracle. You just don't see that happen often. But we did get shafted to be the 4th seed when the Spurs are so obviously an inferior team, we went 3-1 against them, and because of silly division standings they got a 3rd seed. It's really lame, especially because of their last-second nonsense.

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