The Chambers Review- Conference Finals
Part of me feels like I should be proud that I predicted all four series in the second round correctly. But, I don’t know that there has ever been a harder pair of Conference finals to predict. Both these match-ups are extremely close. I feel like I could just as easily predict them both correctly as I could miss them both.
#1 Albacete vs. #2 Paris
Split the season series 2-2
You can’t get much closer than these two teams. Albacete finished the season only two wins ahead of Paris and they split the season series. They are also two of the top offenses with Albacete #1, best in league history, and Pairs close behind at #3. Defensively they are rather average with Albacete at #12 and Paris at #18, though that does ignore Paris’ league-leading steals that can really disrupt a team.
Paris has the best point guard in WBA history, Jervan Timmons. He is a force of nature. Management also has to be given a tremendous amount of credit. They cobbled together a team that I predicted to be poor. But, they outsmarted me. Rather than being last in their conference as I predicted they finished #2 in the conference. Outside of the semi-divine Timmons they don’t inspire fear. But, they are brutally efficient. But, they do have weaknesses. Maybe the biggest is their lack of rebounding. Still, they have seven players averaging double-digits in the playoffs and George Bisset has stepped up in a big way averaging 24.6 points per game in the play-offs. This is a hard team to pick against, especially since I was so wrong about them.
While Paris relies on depth and efficiency, Albacete is about star power. There are few names bigger than Lonny Jordan and Dan Kincaide. After last year’s surprise suspension, Jordan has emerged as a true superstar and so far is having an incredibly productive postseason. Kincaide has the play-off experience from Brooklyn and knows how to hold a team together during the play-offs. Lang also has championship experience off the bench. So, this talented team has one of the brightest young stars and championship experience. To me though, defense and toughness win championships. Albacete is a much more physical rebounding team and while they aren’t a shutdown defense they are better than their #12 ranking indicates. They are #1 in offensive efficiency and #8 in defensive efficiency while Paris is…oh wait… they are #6 in defensive efficiency and #4 in offensive efficiency. I just can’t get a break in predicting this one.
Okay, I’m just going to go with my gut….oh and the rebounds.
Prediction: Albacete wins the series 4-3
#1 Brooklyn vs. #2 California
Brooklyn won the season series 3-0
Never before have there been two 70+ win teams in the same year. Since March both of these teams have been on a tear. Brooklyn is 26-2 and California is 25-2 over that period. These are historically good records and these are historically good teams. That gets forgotten a little bit since last year’s Brooklyn team is considered the best in history. This year’s version isn’t as dominant as last year’s but don’t underestimate them.
All that said, California only finished one game behind Brooklyn. Hassan Watt and Kurt Beck are every bit as good as Mario Baily and Jarius Miles, some might argue better as Baily has slowed just a touch. This team also has criminal depth with more talent 1-7 than any other team. There is that Kelley Brandon injury that hasn’t slowed them down so far but might in a close series. California is known as a defensive juggernaut with the fewest opposing points allowed of any team. They allowed 2.1 fewer points than Brooklyn. They also have a top 5 offense and are the #1 rebounding team with 49.9 rebounds a game. They can also get super hot from outside. They lead the league in 3-point percentage.
We all remember past years when Brooklyn topped virtually every statistical category. That isn’t the case today. But, they are still up there. While the focus has been on California’s stingy defense, few noticed that Brooklyn actually leads the league in defensive efficiency, they just play at a faster pace. But, fans shouldn’t let that go to their heads because while Brooklyn’s fast pace and high scoring is well known, California actually has a better Offensive Efficiency. And while California leads the league in rebounds they actually are only #3 in Reb% with Brooklyn edging them out at #2. Looking at margins doesn’t help much here either. Both teams average more than 20 points more than their opponents, they are both +7.6 in rebounds, only behind Boston. Brooklyn does have a significant advantage in the assist margin but they are still ranked #1 & #4. In steals they are ranked #2 & #3. In blocks, they are ranked #1 and #2. In Turnovers, they are #2 & #3 best. The one significant area is fouls. California commits 6.2 fewer fouls than their opponents while Brooklyn actually commits 0.3 more. But, Brooklyn actually gets to the line 6. 2more times a game than California so who knows what that means.
It is hard to find a clear advantage for either team. The one stat that does stand out if Brooklyn winning the season series 3-0. In round one, I didn’t put enough importance on that stat and it bit me in a few series. I can’t ignore it this time. But, don’t expect that kind of dominance to last in the playoffs.
Prediction: Brooklyn wins the series 4-3