Tuesday, December 12

Half-Full or Half-Empty?

It's funny how perspective changes how people perceive events. To an American, World War I was a border skirmish brought on by the death of Archduke Ferdinand. To a Frenchman, the War was an inevitability brought on by Germany's thirst for land and power. To a German, the War was caused by the disrespect shown to the Motherland by France and Britain.

Likewise, the Sonics' recent streak of five games. David Locke writes at the Sonics' website that the insertion of Nick Collison has been a cause for the recent streak of well-played games. Elsewhere, the web is abuzz with the Sonics' string of improved play.

But is it really improved play? After all, you'll recall that earlier this season, the Sonics went on a road trip where they lost two games by all of two baskets - games that from Sonics' fans' perspective were winnable. "If only Turkoglu had missed, or if the Heat had just not made one extra shot," we said, "we might have swept the whole road trip."

Funny how that "if only" applies to losses, but never to wins. For if one looks closely at this recent streak, one sees that the Sonics are two baskets away from losing three of five, rather than winning four of five. All of sudden, the Collison move isn't such a great one, is it? After all, Collison wasn't starting when the team played well on the road, was he? Ray Allen wasn't sidelined with a bum ankle and Watson and Wilkins revitalized, were they?

Of course, you'll remember how the Sonics played after that trip - they lost six of eight games.

The Sonics are due to start a five-game road trip tonight in Milwaukee. Four of the five games will be against playoff-caliber teams (okay, the Bucks aren't that great, but they're at home and the East kinda stinks this year), teams with a combined record of 27-11 at home. The Sonics will be picked to lose all four games on the road against the Eastern teams, and may be underdogs against the Grizzlies as well.

All of that means that the Sonics could come home from Memphis with a five-game losing streak, and all of that talk about how the Sonics are on the upswing will go straight down the toilet. Add in the continued absence of Ray Allen for the entire trip, and, well, count me as less than optimistic about the Sonics' chances.

Before the Warriors game I said I needed some more convincing before I could jump on the Sonics' bandwagon. The Sonics won, so I should be happy, right?

Well, I've come to the realization that the Sonics are going to continue to tease us all season. That's what mediocre teams do - they win games they shouldn't and lose games they shouldn't. You get overly exicted by mini-win streaks, then depressed after they lose at home to teams they should've destroyed. And who knows, maybe the Sonics will knock off the Bucks tonight and shock the Bulls on Wednesday, kick-starting a push for the top of the division.

I wouldn't bet on it, though.


Anonymous said...

I'm not as pessimistic as you. I think the Sonics ought to be able to beat Memphis, Milwaukee, and possibly Chicago - although the Bulls will be tough becuase it's the second of a back-to-back on the road.

But even if the Sonics only win 2 of 5, that's pretty good for an eastern road trip. The rule of thumb is to split on the road and win 3/4 at home. Do that and you're in the playoffs for sure.

obviously, the key is the Bucks game tonight. Seattle has to have that one if it's going to be a decent trip.

Anonymous said...

Don't underestimate the mental aspect of the "lucky bounce". In my opinion teams that consistently get the lucky bounce do so because of confidence. It can end up being a self fulfilling prophesy where the team expects to get the bounce, relaxes, and therefore does get it.

Anonymous said...

Tonight is definitely must-win for the Sonics. The Bucks are probably the worst team Seattle will play other than Memphis - with SImmons out and Villaneuva not exactly 100% the Sonics have a chance to steal one tonight.

To me, the big matchup is Michael Redd v Damien Wilkins. If Wilkins can hold Redd to less than his average, the Sonics will win.