First of all, I updated my possession analysis page and split up the teams by conference, so be sure to check that out!
After losing two straight, the Blazers find themselves 4th in the division and 10th in the Western Conference. Good thing there are 71 more games to play. Despite a 6-5 record that leaves Portland out of a playoff spot, they are the only non-playoff team in the entire league with a positive margin of victory (MoV). In fact, they have the 6th best MoV in the conference. Additionally, the Blazer’s schedule hasn’t exactly been the easiest. 7 of their 11 games have been on the road–including four back-to-backs–and the road teams Portland has faced have been considerably better than league-average. The Hornets and Lakers are the conference’s two best teams, while the Bulls and Bucks have posted positive MOVs thus far (all teams the Blazers have faced on the road this season).
The Blazers have found themselves on the losing end of a couple overtime games already this season, but close-game records tend to even themselves out over the course of a whole season. The schedule should also balance itself out over the course of the year, and Greg Oden will come back to help out the defense, but the lack of a healthy Brandon Roy could negate all the reasons for my optimism. It remains to be seen how much Roy will play, and how well the Blazers can manage without the 2008-2009 version of their All-Star.
Red flags are going up all over South Beach in response to the Heat’s 6-4 start. On their ESPN team page, there’s a video with the caption, “John Saunders tries to figure out what is wrong with the Miami Heat but only sees more drama in their future….” In my opinion, there’s no reason for Heat fans to be concerned. Miami’s losses have come to good teams–the Boston Celtics twice, the Jazz in overtime, and the undefeated Hornets–and its MoV is the best in the Eastern conference by a long shot.
What’s interesting to me is that while the Heat’s offense is one of the tops in the league, as it will be all season, they are still second to the Lakers in points per possession. Though the season is young, this may foreshadow the inability of three superstars to effectively play together–or play as effectively as each one did when he was the only show in town. It almost makes more sense to stagger Wade, James and Bosh’s playing time as much as possible. While the Heat definitely want those three on the floor as many as 37 or 38 minutes per game, those minutes shouldn’t all come at the same time. Egos will keep any of them from starting on the bench, but coach Erik Spoelstra could easily keep two on the floor at all times while resting one. This would leave only 10-15 minutes that they would all have to be on the court at the same time, and would likely maximize the team’s efficiency. (Note: they may be doing this already, but I doubt it. I’ll check into it).
Next week I’ll try to tackle some teams with names that don’t start with H and end with T.