Friday, May 04, 2007

Something to keep in mind while reading that 8-seed Golden State beating top-seeded Dallas in the opening round of the NBA playoffs is such a big upset is that Golden State beat Dallas 2 out of the 3 times they played during the regular season.

Dallas went 67-15 during the regular season, an 82% winning percentage. But that doesn't mean that Dallas is going to win 8 out of every 10 games it plays against every team. There were teams against which Dallas won at a rate better than 8 out of 10 games (for example, Portland, against which Dallas won all three games) and there were teams against which Dallas won at rate lower than 8 out of 10 games.

In any team sport, any given team will likely find an opponent against which it just doesn't match up well. It might be particular matchups that don't work, it might be the style of play that gives it fits, it could be that the opposing coach knows more about the players than their own coach does.

In this series, it might have been all three factors that were in play. Dallas seemed to have more trouble matching up against Golden State's players than Golden State had in matching up against the Dallas players (and anyone who's played basketball - organized or pickup - knows that this is not an infrequent situation). Dallas never seemed comfortable playing against Golden State's uptempo play. And perhaps, just perhaps, the Dallas coach just couldn't come up with anything that the Golden State coach - who just happened to be the former coach of the Mavericks as well as a mentor to the Dallas coach - wasn't more than ready for.

Disappointment for Dallas, yes? Huge upset? Well, if you're defining upset as something that is unexpected, then no.