There has been plenty of commentary on the suspensions for tonight's Spurs-Suns game, so I'm not going to talk about whether the NBA was right or wrong in this thing. But it does seem like everyone is just assuming that the Suns will lose this game, now that two starters are out. Let's see what WP48 has to tell us about the chances. (I'm going to use the approximate WP48 from my stats site in this analysis, so just know that all WP48 numbers are approximate)
First of all, how does this affect the Spurs? Robert Horry has a knack for coming through in the clutch, at least that is his reputation. But he hasn't given the Spurs much this year overall. Horry has shot poorly (37%), but somewhat made up for that through decent rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and a low turnover rate. He still ended up below average, with a WP48 of 0.091, just under the average player (0.100). I'm guessing his minutes will be mainly taken up by Fabricio Oberto or Matt Bonner. Both of these seem to be slight upgrades. Oberto's WP48 is 0.116 and Bonner's is 0.122. The other option is probably more minutes for Francisco Elson, and having Tim Duncan play more power forward rather than center. Elson's WP48 is 0.066 and would seem to be a slight downgrade from Horry. Either way, it appears the changes won't affect the Spurs much, and they should play more or less equal to how they have played throughout the season.
As for the Suns, they will be missing Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. Stoudemire is one of the best players in the league, and his WP48 of 0.291 shows that. Diaw, however, has dropped off significantly from his breakout year and is sitting on a WP48 of 0.019, well below an "average" player. The loss of these two players will result in more minutes for everyone on the Suns. They've been playing with a rotation of 8 players as it is, and this brings the list down to 6 players, of those that have been getting minutes for Coach D'Antoni. Kurt Thomas is going to be asked to step up in this game and probably play 40 minutes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however. Thomas has played well this year and currently has a WP48 of 0.189, which is actually pretty good. The options for the rest of those minutes, however, don't look quite as good. James Jones and Jalen Rose are probably the most likely to see increased minutes, and they stand at 0.048 and 0.081 WP48, respectively. Of course, both of those players are an upgrade from Boris Diaw, with the only problem being that they don't play the same position as Boris. All things considered, things don't look as horrible as they seemed for the Suns. The biggest issue for them will probably be if Thomas can have a good game and play a solid 40 minutes. If the starting five of (I'm guessing) Thomas, Marion, Bell, Barbosa and Nash can all stay on the court for 40-45 minutes, then I think the Spurs will have a much tougher game than they expected.
I don't know if I'd bet on the Suns....but I probably wouldn't put any money against them either. How do you think the game is going to play out? Are the Suns going to get too tired and get blown out in their own building? Or will they rally together and get the best payback imaginable? Either way, should be a fun night.
(Points + Rebounds + Steals + ½Assists + ½Blocked Shots – Field Goal Attempts – Turnovers - ½Free Throw Attempts - ½Personal Fouls) / Minutes = Win Score per Minute
- ▼ May (9)