The 1974 Detroit Pistons (#35) @ The 1979 Phoenix Suns (#30)
Record: ‘74 Pistons, 52 wins (24th) > '79 Suns, 50 wins (27th)
RSRS: ‘74 Pistons, +4.02 (22nd) > ‘79 Suns, +3.55 (24th)
PSRS: '79 Suns, +5.72 (19th) > ‘74 Pistons, +5.50 (22nd)
When the '74 Pistons have Possession:
Overall Comparison, '74 Pistons' offense vs '79 Suns’' defense:
Regular Season: -0.1 Offensive Rating (32nd) vs -1.4 Defensive Rating (30th): -1.5 expected
Playoffs: +6.1 Offensive Rating (3rd) vs -6.1 Defensive Rating (7th): +0.0 expected
PG: Dave Bing, 22.8% SS on -0.6% rTS, 17.7 / 3.3 / 6.5 / 1.4 : +0.7 playoff OBPM
SG: Stu Lantz, 20.6% SS on +1.3% rTS, 8.4 / 2.2 / 1.8 / 0.8: +1.0 playoff OBPM
SF: Don Adams, 16.9% SS on -4.6% rTS, 9.7 / 5.7 / 1.8 / 1.6: -1.0 playoff OBPM
PF: Curtis Rowe, 15.7% SS on +1.8% rTS, 10.0 / 5.9 / 1.6 / 0.9: +0.5 playoff OBPM
C: Bob Lanier, 25.5% SS on +4.3% rTS, 21.1 / 12.5 / 3.9 / 4.1: +5.6 playoff OBPM
6th: George Trapp, 23.6% SS on +0.6% rTS, 8.7 / 3.6 / 0.9 / 0.9: +0.8 playoff OBPM
When the '79 Suns have Possession:
Overall Comparison, '79 Suns' offense vs '74 Pistons' defense:
Regular Season: +1.9 Offensive Rating (17th) vs -3.9 Defensive Rating (12th): -2.0 expected
Playoffs: -1.1 Offensive Rating (34th) vs +0.6 Defensive Rating (31st): -0.5 expected
PG: Don Buse, 11.2% SS on -1.1% rTS, 7.2 / 2.4 / 4.0 / 1.9: -0.1 playoff OBPM
SG: Paul Westphal, 29.4% SS on +5.0% rTS, 22.1 / 1.8 / 6.0 / 1.6: +3.3 playoff OBPM
SF: Walter Davis, 29.4% SS on +7.6% rTS, 21.8 / 4.3 / 4.0 / 2.0: +5.8 playoff OBPM
PF: Truck Robinson, 23.8% SS on +0.9% rTS, 14.7 / 8.0 / 1.4 / 1.1: -1.6 playoff OBPM
C: Alvan Adams, 23.6% SS on +4.0% rTS, 16.4 / 8.5 / 4.3 / 2.0: +1.6 playoff OBPM
6th: Gar Heard, 15.8% SS on -5.1% rTS, 5.8 / 5.2 / 0.9 / 1.6: -1.6 playoff OBPM
1. Injuries: Alvan Adams will be missing Game 4 for the Suns.
2. The Pistons went into the playoffs with an average offense and a strong defense, built mostly around forcing turnovers (4th among the 20 teams in this tournament for whom we have those numbers). In the playoffs their defense struggled, holding the ‘74 Bulls to their average. But their offense played extremely well, led by the underrated and resilient Bob Lanier (who averaged 26/15 on +4.3% rTS in the series against the Bulls). The Suns’ defense had great success in the playoffs, but they certainly faced lackluster opponents (the Blazers and Kings were nothing to write home about). Could the Suns contain Lanier? The Suns were all about pressure and grade out as one of the worst shot-defense and defensive rebounding teams in this tournament. And let’s not forget that Alvan Adams will miss game 4. Then again, if you’re a 70s Bulls doubter (and you have reason) the Pistons playing them so tightly (and outscoring them over the 7-game series) is probably less impressive.
3. If you want an offense led by high-volume stars look no further than the ‘79 Suns. They were awful on the glass (for this tournament) and turned the ball over a lot but they shot really, really well. Two players taking 29+% of their team’s shots and shooting at +5.0% rTS or better? Those are numbers that sound like they came out of the modern Heliocentric era, not the late 70s. But Paul Westphal was a beast for a few years, and Walter Davis was one of the best volume scorers of his era (on a per minute basis, he usually only played about 30 a night). But Westphal struggled in the playoffs, posting league average numbers against the Blazers and shooting poorly on high volume against the Sonics (going up against prime DJ in the playoffs was no joke. The Suns’ offense was basically dependent on Westphal and Davis to carry it. Westphal showed in the playoffs that he could be slowed, but do we think that the ‘74 Pistons are the team to do it? The Suns certainly advanced farther in the playoffs, but they weren’t playing teams as tough as the ‘74 Bulls (even adjusted for their playoff struggles).
4. This is a weird matchup.
I’m going to put this up for 48 hours, unless I need to keep it open for a tie-breaker.
Post with who you would pick to win this series, ideally with the number of games. And if you have any insight into these players or matchups beyond what is above please don't hesitate to post; the goal (as always) is for us all to walk away with more knowledge than we started with. Lord knows I don't know a ton about these teams