3/31/2005

Prediction off... again

Having a hard time with this for some reason. The prediction in question today is the one that said Memphis would move up in the West standings when Pau Gasol made his return. I mean, it made sense, right? A team adds a guy averaging 18, 7.5 and 50.3% in 32 minutes back to the lineup and you'd figure it'd be a great improvement. Instead, the team is 1-4 since his return. Granted, some of the games have been tough (Phoenix, at Chicago, Seattle). Granted, part of this is his fault... he's averaging 11 and 2.6 while going 3.8/7.8 (48.7%) from the field in an average of 19.8 minutes. Slanted up to the old 36 minutes, that's 20 and 4.7. His season averages, slightly slanted up to 36, are 20.3 and 8.4... clearly, he's lacking in the boards. But that's not a gigantic difference, something is still wrong. Someone (can't find where I read this, sorry) at ESPN.com seems to think that Fratello just needs to find the right mix now that the Spaniard is back in the lineup... and they're probably right. If so, Fratello better do it in a hurry because the Nuggets have now tied the Grizzles for the 7th seed.

Now, for some Piston talk. Tony Mejia over at Sportsline.com put up his Power Rankings for the week two days ago (would've covered this sooner, but it slipped my mind to check the site) and as usual, included a blip about a certain team that was doing things for the week in question. This week, he chose the Pistons. Here's the first quote that made no sense to me:

On Monday night, a Western Conference front-runner barged into The Palace and started slapping the home team around. The Mavericks jumped all over the Pistons, smothering them on defense in the most unacceptable of role reversals.

First of all, the Mavericks are playing D since Avery Johnson took over (they've given up 94.1 points per game in the 7 since Johnson took over, as opposed to their 97.6 on the season). Second... jumped all over? They won by six points. That's not jumping all over. The funny part about the first point is that he actually addresses this later on, in the blip about the Mavs in the actual rankings...

Count us as believers that Avery Johnson's defensive-minded approach is right strategy to get the Mavericks into The Finals.

First, it's a terrible role reversal that the Mavericks played good D against the Pistons. Then... it's good thing the Mavericks are playing defensive-minded. Like Vince Carter when he's unhappy, this is completely inconsistent.
Later on, in his blip about the Pistons...

Lindsey Hunter's remarkable slump (1-for-18 and counting) and the lack of productivity from Carlos Arroyo has the Pistons worried.

Hunter I'll give you, but Arroyo's doing just fine. He's averaging 11.3 points and 7.2 assists per 36 minutes... doesn't sound like lack of productivity to me. This isn't inconsistent, it's just not true.

Also in the rankings, but unrelated to the Pistons, here's his blip about the Warriors...

They're calling Baron Davis the "Boss" these days, and considering he's happy and thriving back in Cali, the Warriors might just be a team you have to watch next season.

Similar to what I said about Stein's rankings, Baron Davis isn't playing well, let alone thriving! He's shooting 39.4% from the floor since moving to the west coast. He's taking 7.5 triples a game at a 33.9% clip (which is reasonable for about a third as many triples). His assist numbers are good (7.8 per 36) as are his steal numbers (1.4 per 36) but those first two stats detract too much for it to matter to me.

Going back to the Pistons, their next matchup is Friday against the Clippers... which as the edited link I mentioned last post said, may be the return of Larry Brown. Very good.

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