Monday, May 16, 2011

Adrian Wojnarowski Does Not Care for the Mavericks, Apparently

A word before I begin: Adrian Wojnarowski is, in my mind, the best national NBA beat writer out there. If there's ever a breaking news story, "Woj" is all over it. And nobody is better at breaking news during the trade deadline. I almost believe that when a trade is made, a G.M. does two things -- he calls the other team to accept the trade and then he calls Woj. He breaks everything. He is the Ken Rosenthal of the NBA. Another thing that makes him great is that despite being a beat writer he isn't afraid to express his voice when he dips into his column work. Beat writers are plagued by the fine line they have to dance around between writing truthful negative stories and keeping happy sources. Woj doesn't just dance well at this line -- he single handily does his own interpretation of the "Black Swan" at the line. For example, just Google "Adrian Wojnarowski LeBron James." The man has a mean streak.

Now that I've done the usual "respecting the guy thing," I can now freely shit on this man's chest, figuratively.

I kid, I kid. The last thing I want this blog's reputation to be is a biased, ranting Maverick homer blog (or do I?) But it strikes me from Woj's playoff predictions that he isn't the biggest Maverick fan. A rundown, Tarantino-style, from West Finals and back:

West Finals: OKC in five.

West Semis: LA in five

West Quarters: Portland in four

The OKC prediction doesn't bother me in the fact that I don't believe the Thunder can win, but the way in which Woj thinks they will. For the Thunder to win in five games, at minimum they have to win two of the three games played in Dallas, one being a Game 5 elimination game. Now, OKC is a fine road team but even they only took one of three in Memphis, which clearly looks to be a less talented team than Dallas. The Thunder can beat the Mavs for sure. But in five? Without homecourt? I'm not too sure.

The Lakers prediction is probably the most sane of the bunch. Hell, even I picked the Lakers to vanquish the Mavs in five. The regular season data suggested it. Eye test suggested it. The Lakers even showed signs of coming alive by dominating the Hornets to close out the series. What the Mavericks did was surprising and the Lakers seemingly willingness to fold even more shocking. So, free pass there.

But Portland in four? This is an embarrassingly bad prediction that I can't even fathom why he would do that. It can't be for shock factor because the NBA is not the NCAA -- upsets rarely happen. If they do, it's because of a particular match up for that series. It's hard to upset a team that's better than you over the course of a seven game series. Would Butler beat Pittsburgh four out of seven? What about George Mason and UConn? There isn't much glamor to calling an upset in the NBA because people don't invest in the betting, prediction process as much. If he gets it right, cool -- here's a pat on the back and a couple of retweets. Good job.

What's so remarkable about the predictions is the guy isn't some newspaper columnist that's tied to a local region. The man knows his hoops. Being a national writer, he might not be able to watch these teams as closely as we can, but come on, PORTLAND IN FOUR?! A casual NBA fan would even know that the teams were very closely matched and the Trail Blazers had a horrible road record. I understood every reason why people picked the Blazers over the Mavs, but there is in no way that evidence supported the Blazers taking four straight games. The first two in Dallas, no less.

I'm sorry to take up an entire post on something so trite and meaningless as playoff predictions (the NBA! It's UNPREDICTABLE!) but I felt I needed to get that off my chest.

Note: My Western Conference Finals preview will drop tomorrow. I'm taking a slightly different, more narrative approach this time. Hopefully that will make more sense to you all tomorrow. Want a small taste? I like the Mavs (for once)

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