HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Southwest Division comprises more than half of the Western Conference playoff bracket. So two of them have to play each other.
The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets both made changes to their roster in December, bringing the enigmatic Rajon Rondo and Josh Smith from the Eastern Conference. A month after they added Rondo to their mix, the Mavs were 30-13, a game ahead of the Rockets.
But things went downhill from there. The Mavs led the league in offensive efficiency at the time they traded for Rondo, but scored almost 10 fewer points per 100 possessions after the trade than they did before it. Their defense did improve some, but not enough to make up for the offensive drop-off.
The Rockets, meanwhile, survived a myriad of injuries to win the division and finish second in the West. They’re missing two starters and don’t have Dwight Howard at 100 percent, but have gotten by with a top-10 defense and an MVP candidate. That could be enough to get through an opponent that has had issues on both ends of the floor at one point or another.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Rockets-Mavs, with links to let you dive in and explore more.
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Houston Rockets (56-26)
Pace: 99.3 (2)
OffRtg: 104.2 (12)
DefRtg: 100.5 (6)
NetRtg: +3.7 (6)
- Attempted 39.3 percent of their shots from 3-point range, the highest mark in NBA history by a wide margin. The previous high was 35.4 percent, by the 2012-13 New York Knicks.
- One of two offenses (Cleveland’s was the other) that ranked in the top 10 in both effective field goal percentage and offensive rebounding percentage.
- James Harden led the league with 576 isolation possessions, according to Synergy. At 1.01 points per possession, he ranked fifth among 58 players with at least 100 isolation possessions.
- Harden shot 13-for-25 from 3-point range in clutch-time (score within five points in the last five minutes), the best mark among players who attempted at least 20 clutch threes.
- For the second straight season (and with two different teams), Trevor Ariza led the league in corner 3-pointers (see below). Teammate Jason Terry ranked third and Harden had almost 50 more assists on corner threes (131) than any other player. LeBron James ranked second with 82.
Dallas Mavericks (50-32)
Pace: 97.4 (9)
OffRtg: 107.2 (5)
DefRtg: 103.7 (18)
NetRtg: +3.5 (8)
- Only team that ranked in the top five in both turnover rate and opponent turnover rate.
- Grabbed just 72.2 percent of available defensive rebounds, the second lowest rate in the league and the lowest among playoff teams.
- Outscored their opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions before the All-Star break and have been outscored by 2.5 since the break. That drop-off of 8.9 points per 100 possessions was the biggest in the league.
- Tyson Chandler scored 1.41 points per possession as a roll man, the best mark among players with at least 100 roll-man possessions, according to Synergy.
- Amar’e Stoudemire was one of five players that shot better than 50 percent on at least 100 shots out of post-ups, according to Synergy.
- Dwight Howard only played in the fourth meeting, and was a minus-12 in 18 minutes. The Rockets were a plus-19 in the other 30 minutes.
- The Rockets averaged 23.3 fast break points in the four meetings, their highest mark against any opponent.
- Monta Ellis shot 2-for-19 from 3-point range, his worst mark against any Western Conference opponent.
- Dirk Nowitzki shot better each game against the Rockets: 4-for-18 (22 percent) in the first meeting, 4-for-11 (36 percent) in the second meeting, 6-for-13 (46 percent) in the third meeting, and 7-for-11 (64 percent) in the fourth meeting.
- Over the last three meetings (which took place after the Mavs acquired Rajon Rondo), the Mavs were a minus-11 in 78 minutes with Rondo on the floor and a plus-10 in 66 minutes with Rondo on the bench.