Schedules Again

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A few weeks in, and some people are ready to pass judgment on the Shaq and Kidd trades. But as with teams like the Rockets, Lakers, and Spurs, who are streaking against mostly favorable competition, the Suns’ and Mavs’s schedules are data points worth a look, too.

Since the Shaq trade on Feb. 6, the Suns are 6-7, and 3-5 with Shaq in the lineup. Their schedule, again teams with winning records are in bold:

  • New Orleans – L
  • Seattle – W
  • Washington – W
  • Golden State – L
  • Dallas – W

Shaq starts playing

  • Lakers – L
  • Boston – W
  • Detroit – L
  • Memphis – W
  • New Orleans – L
  • Philadelphia – L
  • Portland – W
  • Denver – L

So of the seven losses, only one has been to a losing team, Philly, and they might still make the playoffs. Wins over Dallas and Boston have been offset by losses to New Orleans (x2), L.A., Detroit, G.S., and Denver. Five games against title contenders, plus three more against legitimately talented teams. That’s a pretty difficult run.

The Mavs have had it no easier. Since the Kidd trade on Feb. 19, they are 4-4 against a tough schedule:

  • New Orleans – L
  • Memphis – W
  • Minnesota – W
  • Chicago – W
  • San Antonio – L
  • Sacramento – W
  • LA Lakers -L
  • Utah – L

All four wins are against some crappy teams, but they were only about two favorable bounces/whistles from winning both the Spurs and Lakers games. Is this really reason to panic?

The concern, of course, is that both teams definitely don’t look like they’re clicking. The Suns, especially, have looked out of sorts on both sides of the ball. But I’m not sure what else you’d expect when each team is basically overhauling their entire style of play. It’s a far cry from Gasol going to the Lakers, where they just dropped him into Bynum’s slot and starting mopping up inferior competition, much to the analysts’ delight.

In a month, we’ll know more. I expect the Mavs will start catching some breaks. I think Kobe and the Lakers, unfortunately, will still look like a contender. It’s the Suns*, who were once the model for every rebuilding team in the league, now playing catch-up. Against a March schedule that gets no easier, they’ve got to be sweating Golden State and Denver, who are both less than four games back.

* Man, even if Phoenix sorts things out, how good is the chaos making Bryan Colangelo look? Robert Sarver done screwed up.

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