One of the recent debates lately is regarding who is the best team in the NBA. Is it the Phoenix Suns, or the Dallas Mavericks? Technically Dallas has a better record (33-8 vs. 31-8), but Dallas has also played 2 additional games. Looking a little deeper into their records, I noticed something almost immediately.
Versus the West (arguably the stronger conference in the NBA), Dallas is 23-6, while Phoenix is only 15-7. This tells us two things: First, versus the more difficult conference, Dallas has a .793 winning percentage, while Phoenix has “only” a .682 winning percentage. Also, it tells us that Phoenix has only played 22 Western conference games, while Dallas has played 29. Phoenix has had the luxury of padding their win column against teams in the East.
This makes it sound like Dallas is actually a much better team than Phoenix. However, if we take this data a bit further, we can try to predict both teams’ overall records at the end of the season.
We know that each team will play 52 games against the West, and only 30 games against the east. If we multiply the number of games by each respective winning percentage, we end up with 66.24 Dallas wins and 63.69 Phoenix wins, giving Dallas a slight 2.55 game edge. Out of 82 games, that is only a difference of .031 in the final winning percentage.
Personally, I think the race is still to close to call, but it should be fun to watch throughout the second half of the season.
Dallas is 7-3 vs the top 5 teams in the league (Mavs, Suns, Spurs, Jazz, Lakers). Phoenix is 0-6 against this group (including 0-2 head-to-head with the Mavs).