The True Meaning of the First 20 Games
By Tim Folkman Posted in: Blazers, Bulls, Celtics, geraldwallace, GregOden, Heat, Lakers, LaMarcusAldridge, Magic, MarcusCamby, Mavericks, NicolasBatum, WesleyMatthews
“History, by appraising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future.” – Thomas Jefferson
The best predictor of the future is the past. Sometimes the best way to evaluate any situation is to step back from the minor details and get the big picture. This rings true with the first twenty games of the Trail Blazers this season. I admit, I get caught up in the game to game and individual player drama as much as the next guy, but I have to ask myself – Does any of it really mean anything? Sure, by watching games and studying box scores you get a picture, but I want a video. Adding pictures together from different time periods gives a more accurate depiction of whatever being analyzed. I crunched some numbers and found a few interesting trends.
I went all the way back to the 2008-2009 season when Greg Oden played 61 games and Nicolas Batum was a rookie.
First 20 games --
14 wins -- 6 losses
7 home games -- 13 away
6 back to back
12 wins – 8 losses
11 home -- 9 away
5 back to back
9 wins – 11 losses
8 home -- 12 away
5 back to backs
12 wins – 8 losses
10 home -- 10 away
5 back to back
1 back to back to back
What can be gathered from this information? My interpretation is for the past 4 seasons the Blazers began with similar situations and an above average record. Sure, the only two guys playing on the team today that were on the ’08 team are LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. That being said I think there is some validity in the trend, especially when you look at the outcome of each season.
08-09 – First round playoff exit, lose series 2-4
09-10 – First round playoff exit, lose series 2-4
10-11 – First round playoff exit, lose series 2-4
11-12 – To be determined
This doesn’t necessarily mean I believe the Blazers will lose in the first round of the playoffs, but it’s a fair assumption to say they have little chance of going much further. If the goal of this season is to win a playoff series the Blazers have a chance. If the goal is to win the NBA title, well, the odds are already stacked against them, and this is why.
Here are the records of the first 20 games for each NBA finals participant since 2008:
All but one team had a 75% win percentage 20 games into the season. It just so happens the one exception to the 75% rule was the Heat (who seem to be an exception to many historical trends). But don’t worry Heat fans; they are 15-5 to start this year. By no means does this mean every team that starts the season at the top finishes there, but the teams who make the finals typically get a good start out the gate. If this trend holds true that would mean this year the teams with the greatest chance to make the Finals are The Heat, Bulls and Thunder.
All of this being said, there is a reason the games are played. I have done my best to extrapolate meaning from the first 20 games of the season, but at the end of the day sports are sports. It is especially tough to know what the outcome will be in this shortened season. In 1999, in the playoffs after the 50 game regular season due to the lockout, the Knicks who were an eighth seed made the Finals. These are the kind of stories that really keep many of us sports fans coming back. The goal must always be to win a ring, but my memories for all my favorite teams are about the drama and battle.
Just because the Blazers PROBABLY wont get some rings this year doesn't mean that
the ride shouldn't be enjoyed. I will always remember Andre Miller with his jaw dropped to
the floor when Brandon did his thing in game 4 last year. I will always remember the battles
with the Lakers. I will always remember the sorrow from chronic injuries and the joy from
success regardless of the injuries. I will always remember friendships made due to a common
love of the team. I will keep coming back for the story lines and chance that the Blazers could do something really special, but I will ALWYAS remember Las Vegas was successful because odds matter.