First off, we’d like to congratulate unleashthebeast and Jets for making it this far. Both GM’s did an excellent job. We wish them the best of luck.
Three facts we want you to know:
1. Isaiah Thomas’s numbers as a starter-
14.2 points, 5.2 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal on 47% FG, 40% 3pt, 83% FT.
2. Tayshaun Prince is an above average defender:
He held opponents to a .81 PPP overall (ranked 128) on 35% FG. Also, his opponent PER was 11.4 last season which is well above average with his sample size of defensive opportunities.
3. Santa Monica’s superior balance-
We feel we’ve developed a starting 5 that’s perfectly suited to play off each individual’s strength. Eric Gordon thrives in the PnR and being a primary ball-handler as shown by his 1.21 PPP in PnR situations. With this in mind, we wanted a PG who could still create for others, but also thrive in off-the-ball situations to let Gordon maximize his talents. Isaiah Thomas’s ability to stretch the floor allows us for Gordon and Dirk to really thrive together in PnR situations. Not only that, but IT’s ability to create for himself as well as thrive in the PnR was absolutely fantastic. He ranked 24th, in ISO situations and 5th in PnR situations last season which gives us a very unique ability to turn to an IT-Dirk PnR game or an Eric Gordon-Dirk PnR game. It’s another facet that the Baltimore defense will have to account for.
The real strength of Santa Monica is our bigs duo, Dirk Nowitzki, and Joakim Noah. We confidently feel this is the strongest bigs duo in the redraft and their talents complement each other absolutely perfectly. Dirk will have the freedom of totally being focused on the offensive end with Noah’s ability to rebound at a high rate (18 TRB %) and be a quality defensive anchor. Onto the head to head matchups:
PG Matchup: Isaiah Thomas | Jerryd Bayless vs. Jarrett Jack | DJ Augustin
This will be a close matchup, but Santa Monica has a slight edge here. Thomas was phenomenal as a starter for Sacramento and was adept at running the pick and roll. He’s going to keep Jack, who’s giving up a 46.7% FG% on Pick and Rolls, on his heels. Jack isn’t known to be a great defender, and the quickness and versatility of Thomas is sure to give him issues. If you are worrying about Thomas on the defensive end, no need to. The young stud ranked in the top 100 defending isolations, post-ups, and pick and rolls. He should not have issues guarding Jack. Moreover, Isaiah’s team was 7.3 points better when he was on the floor than when he was off the floor. The kid makes a huge impact when he is in the game. If you are worried about inexperience, don’t be. He’s playing with seasoned veterans in Dirk, Noah, and Prince who have been a part of some deep playoff runs. Thomas also will not be going against someone that has more playoff experience than him, as Jack has only been to the playoffs once, which was when he was a backup. Off the bench, Bayless provides phenomenal shooting (42.3% from 3) and good playmaking. He and Isaiah form a very nice offensive PG duo. Augustin on the other hand has been on the decline the last two years, as evident by his piss poor shooting percentages.
Advantage: Santa Monica
SG Matchup: Eric Gordon | Jordan Hamilton vs. Manu Ginobili | Evan Turner
Manu is still a top shooting guard who is one of the more clutch players in the league. The question has never been about his talent, but about his health. Manu has had great trouble staying healthy the last few years, and Baltimore is relying on Manu to be their top scorer, with no great second option. He doesn’t have Timmy D and Tony like he did in San Antonio to take the load off. Instead he has the offensively limited Tyson Chandler and role players such as Scola, Green, Turner and Jack to defer to. We have put Gordon in the perfect situation, where he is playing with a phenomenal first scoring option and a PG mate who can both create and defer. In addition, Gordon has fared extremely well versus Manu in their matchups the last two seasons:
: 23 Pts | 11 Asts | 4 Rbs | 10-17 FGM-FGA | 2 TO | 3-5 FTM-FTA
: 14 Pts | 7 Asts | 2 Rbs | 4-10 FGM-FGA | 3 TO | 5-6 FTM-FTA
: 21 Pts | 2 Asts | 6 Rbs | 4 TO | 8-17 FGM-FGA | 2-5 3PM-3PA | 3-3 FTM-FTA
: 15 Pts | 6 Asts | 6 Rbs | 0 TO | 5-15 FGM-FGA | 1-6 3PM-3PA | 4-6 FTM-FTA
: 31 Pts | 4 Asts | 2 Rbs | 3 TO | 11-19 FGM-FGA | 2-7 3PM-3PA | 7-8 FTM-FTA
: 14 Pts | 4 Asts | 2 Rbs | 3 TO | 5-6 FGM-FGA | 2-2 3PM-3PA | 2-2 FTM-FTA
This poses two questions: how much of an advantage does Manu acutally have? And can Manu consistently play 35+ minutes per game as the number one option when he’s averaged more than 30 minutes per game only twice in his career?
Slight Advantage: Baltimore
SF Matchup: Tayshaun Prince | Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Jeff Green | Evan Turner
A couple years ago, Green would have had the advantage. However, we have not seen Green play in a regular season or postseason game in over a year. We have no idea how good Green will be coming off his heart surgery. Prince provides solid defense, rebounding, 3 point shooting and leadership for this squad. He will be able to limit Green, and add about 10-12 points per game. We can also bring Luc off the bench, a player that provides fantastic defense, hustle, rebounding, and versatility. Turner is a nice backup for the question-mark Jeff Green, but he is still very inefficient on the offensive end and very raw.
Advantage: Santa Monica
PF Matchup: Dirk Nowitzki | Jared Jeffries vs. Luis Scola | Ivan Johnson
This is the difference maker in the series. The matchups at PG, SG, SF, and C are all relatively close. But this matchup has domination written all over it. Luis Scola isn’t a great defender, and Dirk is still a great offensive player. Dirk is still only one year removed from an epic finals run, leading his team past the Miami Heat. The one huge difference between this season and last season for the Mavericks was having a defensive anchor down low to play next to Dirk, and we have given him a top center who can basically do it all. Dirk had a slow start to the shortened season, but he still was one of the most efficient players in the game in the regular and postseason. He sported a 56% TS% in the regular season and had a superb first round, scoring 27 PPG while getting to the line 10.5 times with a 56% TS%. He did this versus a great defender in Serge Ibaka, so I highly doubt that Luis Scola will be able to limit Dirk here. Off the bench, Jeffries does all the little things a team needs like take chargers, fight for loose balls, and set good picks.
Advantage: Santa Monica
C Matchup: Joakim Noah | Aaron Gray vs. Tyson Chandler | Reggie Evans
This is a very close matchup once again Noah and Tyson are both great rebounders and very good help defenders. Tyson is a better defender, but he is best suited going against a Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum because those guys are physically Imposing in the post and Tyson is great at using his body to defend them. Chandler is a very good help defender as well, but he won’t be able to leave Noah open, as Noah has a solid offensive game. Noah can hit the mid-range shot and is a threat to score on offense (56.1 TS%, ranked 80th in the Pick and Roll, 84th in the post up, 68th cutting, and 33rd in transition). Leaving Noah open to defer shots of Gordon, Dirk and IT will not only result in an open Joakim Noah, but also possible foul trouble. On defnse, Tyson does not have a very good post game, rather he relies on scoring on alley-oops and scoring off of rebounds. Noah is a smart defender and a very good rebounder, so obviously we won’t be seeing Tyson explode this series. If Tyson does get into foul trouble, Evans will be manning the paint, and though he is a good energy player, he’s not a defensive anchor. Our offense would be able to score at will with Tyson off the floor.
In this matchup, we have four very close positional matchups, and one extremely lopsided one, which gives Santa Monica the clear edge. Baltimore has had a very nice run making it to the ECF, but the Cinderella story ends here. Having nobody to contain Dirk and having an injury plagued and aging number one option spells trouble for Baltimore. With HCA, a high powered offense and above average defense, Santa Monica takes this in 5 or 6 games.