I think I get why John Hollinger is one of the few national pundits that picked the Suns to win this series. All the others are going off history and reputation (can't blame them), but John is a numbers man.
And looking at the numbers, it's not even close. The Suns have a HUGE edge.
Before we delve in, understand that we are looking at round 1 numbers only. I am ignoring the regular season because the Spurs are playing far better now than they did all year due to their improved health situation.
Which team should have provided the stiffer competition, Dallas or Portland?
In theory, you should say that the Spurs had the higher level of competition in that they faced the two-seeded Mavs and in that case, you expect their numbers to reflect that. But just remember that Dallas was a poor rebounding team and about even defensively.
The Suns defensive number could be inflated by playing the Blazers, while the Spurs had to stop a much better Dallas team.
On the other end though, I would say the Suns offensive numbers are more impressive in that Portland certainly played better defense in round 1 than Dallas.
Above is the game logs showing advanced stats via HoopData.com.
- The Suns and Spurs were both at about 103 in defensive efficiency, but the Suns were 113 on offense versus on 104 for the Spurs, which led to a huge advantage in efficiency differential, which the stat geeks I talk to say is one of the most important factors.
- Interesting to note that both series were played at about the same pace, which was around SA's season norm but far slower than the Suns normally, but it still didn't impact the Phoenix offensive machine.
- Both teams held their opponents to about 47% shooting, but the Suns shot 53% compared to only 49% for the Spurs, giving Phoenix a +6% advantage in eFG differential.
- The Suns held the edge in rebounding, but the Spurs in turnovers. It might be worth noting the Suns two games with the most turnovers were also the two games that Nash said his hip hurt the most. Coincidence? Nope.
- The Spurs hold the edge in free throw rates, but if you look, both teams had about the same number of attempts per game. The Spurs just didn't foul as much as the Suns did probably because the Mavs are even more of a jump shooting team.
Above are the player stats for both teams in round 1.
- The huge difference is the Suns' depth. Phoenix had 9 players average over 15 minutes per game and none of those nine were starter Jarron Collins.
- The Spurs basically went 6 deep and gave Matt Bonner 16 minutes per game and for some reason, Blair only played 9 minutes per game (not sure why).
- The Suns hit 60 three pointers in round 1 and shot 39% from three. The Spurs hit 25 three pointers and only shot 32%. Manu was 32% from three, while their best bomber was George Hill (50%), but he only attempted 16 in 6 games.
- In case you were wondering -- because the Spurs historically have defended the three point line well -- this season they allowed the fewest 3PAs of any team, but the Suns still averaged 18.3 against them, which is 4 more than they gave up on average.
- Keith Bogans, Roger Mason and Garrett Temple played a combined 99 minutes in round 1 and scored 4 points. Total. Combined. That's pretty funny.
- The Suns got at least 5 rebounds per game from 4 of their 5 top players while the Spurs relied heavily on Duncan and McDyess on the glass.
- If the Suns can once again occupy the bigs and attack the boards with JRich and Grant Hill, they should win this part of the battle. I don't see Richard Jefferson or Manu Ginobili beating them on the boards.
And here's the best one. If you skimmed the rest, read this:
Tim Duncan averaged 37 minutes per game. In Game 1 through 3, he shot close to 60% and averaged 26 points per game. In Game 4 through 6, he shot 31% and average 11 points per game.
- And in case you were curious (I was), the Mavs didn't start double-teaming him either. He faced single coverage in roughly the same number of post-up opportunities in all six games.
Not too shabby, huh. The Suns really have a big edge going into this series statistically -- plus home court. This could be the year...
Extra Credit: Be sure to head over and read this from PtR...
These aren't the Suns we know | Pounding The Rock
I'll say this as plainly as possible. This is going to be the best Suns team that San Antonio has ever faced in the postseason. And they will be highly motivated by their playoff history against us. There are definitely reasons for Spurs fans to be confident, but victory in this series is far from a foregone conclusion. I would not be the least bit shocked if Phoenix won this series, but I'm obviously hoping we continue using them as our postseason plaything. Regardless of the result, let's have fun watching it all play out, shall we? But don't assume anything. Not this year.