Mavs, Crawford have unique past

Dan Crawford is scheduled to be a referee in tonight’s Game 2 between the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers. Crawford has a recent history with the Mavericks in the postseason.

• Dallas is 2-16 in playoff games refereed by Crawford since 2001, and 48-41 in all other playoff games in that span. The Mavericks actually won their first playoff game refereed by Crawford back in 2001, so they are 1-16 in the last 17 games in which Crawford has been an official, having lost the last 6.

• The Mavericks are 4-14 AGAINST THE SPREAD in playoff games refereed by Crawford since 2001 compared to 47-41-1 vs. the spread in all other playoff games in that span (according to information from Covers.com).

The reason this is important is that the spread is essentially one of the best ways to look at what a team is expected to do in a certain game. Historically, the spread has been shown to be an accurate predictor of what happens in a game – that is, teams are generally .500 against the spread over large samples of games. Therefore, the fact that the Mavericks seem to underperform compared to expectations (as proxied by the spread) in games reffed by Crawford is possibly more compelling evidence than the 2-16 overall record.

Mavericks In Playoffs Since 2001

Crawford has refereed some controversial Mavericks playoff games in this span, including Games 3 and 6 of the 2006 Finals as well as a close loss to the Spurs last season.

In addition, Crawford’s inclusion in tonight’s game is particularly interesting after Trail Blazers’ coach Nate McMillan complained about the free throw differential in Dallas’ favor in Game 1 (including a 19-2 advantage in the 4th quarter) and was subsequently fined $35,000 by the NBA. What more could McMillan hope for in Game 2 than to have a referee whose playoff history indicates that the calls might not be in the Mavericks’ favor tonight?

The line for tonight’s game is Dallas -3.5 as of this morning, but it should be noted that based on the referee assignment and past trends, it could change (it’s still at -3.5 this afternoon). If it moves down between now and game time (i.e. if Dallas is favored by less), that would be evidence that this “Dan Crawford-Mavericks” effect is being recognized somewhere.

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