Monday, April 22, 2013

THE WESTERN CONFERENCE: Enough Said!

Johnny J

The Western Conference dominance over the Eastern Conference, has been around for some time now. Its not that the west plays a different type of basketball, but its more of a team effort. Compared to the East, teams like the New York Knicks and Miami Heat focus on a superstar.  If you took away the superstar from each team, would they still be Conference title contenders, let alone NBA Title contenders? Out west, teams like Memphis, Golden State and Denver would still find away to win games minus their leading sorer. Truth be told, the West may have more superstars than the East as the latter has won the last three All-Star games. They also won five out of the last eight NBA Finals. That's what I call Conference dominance!

 The East is full of depleted stars this season, due to injuries: Derrick Rose, Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo and Amar'e Stoudemire have all missed a significant amount of games this year because of injury. Who has the best chance of reaching the finals? Obviously its easier to win in the East because of teams missing their stars. So for a team like the Knicks, now is the time to turn that frown upside-down. This could be their year.  The only team in their way--the Miami Heat. The Knicks have beaten them three times this season; once without Carmelo Anthony. Now just make it stick in the playoffs. I see only two teams being able to make the Finals in the East: New York and Miami.

If you look at the eight teams in the playoffs for the West, I would say six of them can make the finals. The only two who I believe won't are the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.

  • Houston, we have a problem: James Harden has to go back to OKC and show them why he should have gotten paid. Who's worth more to a team: Harden or Russell Westbrook?  (Russell Westbrook--Ed). My answer is Harden.  He led the league in  free throw attempts with 792. Kevin Durant attempted 750. Imagine having them on the same team. Oh wait , that happened! Now Harden has to take his one man band into Chesapeake Arena, where the Thunder have only lost seven games all year. 
  • "Warriors come out and play": This isn't the 1979 classic, but more of the 21st century video game. All I can say is this is going to be a series that doesn't believe in defense. These teams can definitely put up points. Denver lead the league with 106.1 PPG and Golden State came in seventh with 101.2 PPG. Stephen Curry vs Ty Lawson: a 2013 classic!


Matter of fact, if you take the eight seed Rockets and put them in the East, they would be a five seed. If you take the fifth seed Grizzlies and put the in the east, they would be a two seed. So is the West harder than the East?  Yes!  It's because they don't rely on one person; they rely on the team. Six of the the top teams who lead the league in assists are out West. Carmelo Anthony's team ranked 30th in assists. Big difference between ball sharing and ball hogging. It just seems to work for the Knicks. The West also plays at a faster tempo. Its more of a full-court, fast-break style of play. It's all about possession efficiency and pace.  Matter of fact, there is a formula that measures team pace: Team Possessions + Opponent Possessions / 2 X [Team Minutes Played / 5]

Basically, the more possessions you have, the more points a team can put up. The Rockets lead the league with 98.6, followed by the Nuggets with 97.8. Then you have the Warriors, Lakers, and Spurs in the order of four, five, and six. That's how the West dominates. Its simple mathematics. The West plays at a faster pace, while the East is mostly half-court play. Whoever comes out the East will still have to worry about slowing down their Western opponent.  It's that simple!  Easier said than done.

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