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Archive for the 'History' Category

How 2+ Conference Finalists in 3 Seasons Fared 5 Years Later

12th May 2011

With the Magic, Lakers, and now Celtics being dispatched from the playoffs, I was thinking about whether a down period was necessary for teams that had been at the top for multiple seasons when their run was finally over.

Part of Danny Ainge's rationalization for the Kendrick Perkins-Jeff Green trade was to make the Celtics younger and give the team a solid player in the future. But do (older) mini-dynasties like Boston's ever really have a future? Does a modern NBA team ever successfully rebuild on the fly, or are good years always followed by a transition period of losing? Instead of making any attempt to build a future, should he have just committed to the 2011 team and accepted losing down the road?

Let's go to the data -- every team that went to at least 2 conference finals in 3 years, and their winning percentages in the next 5 years (Y+1, Y+2, ... , Y+5). "Age" is the team's minute-weighted average age in year Y's playoffs. "< .500" and "<.350" are the # of seasons in the next 5 that they posted a a record worse than .500 and .350, respectively. Enjoy:

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Posted in Analysis, Data Dump, History, Playoffs | 7 Comments »

The Dissolution of the NBA Playoffs’ Ruling Class

9th May 2011

From 2008 to 2010, the NBA playoffs clearly had a "ruling class" that consisted of Boston, Orlando, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Combined, those three teams played 26 playoff series, and just once did one of them lose to a team outside of their own small clique:

Year Round Rd# Team Opp W L Winner
2008 EC1 1 BOS ATL 4 3 BOS
2008 WC1 1 LAL DEN 4 0 LAL
2008 EC1 1 ORL TOR 4 1 ORL
2008 ECS 2 BOS CLE 4 3 BOS
2008 WCS 2 LAL UTA 4 2 LAL
2008 ECS 2 ORL DET 1 4 DET
2008 ECF 3 BOS DET 4 2 BOS
2008 WCF 3 LAL SAS 4 1 LAL
2008 FIN 4 BOS LAL 4 2 BOS
2009 EC1 1 BOS CHI 4 3 BOS
2009 WC1 1 LAL UTA 4 1 LAL
2009 EC1 1 ORL PHI 4 2 ORL
2009 WCS 2 LAL HOU 4 3 LAL
2009 ECS 2 ORL BOS 4 3 ORL
2009 WCF 3 LAL DEN 4 2 LAL
2009 ECF 3 ORL CLE 4 2 ORL
2009 FIN 4 LAL ORL 4 1 LAL
2010 EC1 1 BOS MIA 4 1 BOS
2010 WC1 1 LAL OKC 4 2 LAL
2010 EC1 1 ORL CHA 4 0 ORL
2010 ECS 2 BOS CLE 4 2 BOS
2010 WCS 2 LAL UTA 4 0 LAL
2010 ECS 2 ORL ATL 4 0 ORL
2010 ECF 3 BOS ORL 4 2 BOS
2010 WCF 3 LAL PHO 4 2 LAL
2010 FIN 4 LAL BOS 4 3 LAL

Over that 3-year span, the Lakers-Celtics-Magic triad went 20-1 in series against non-ruling class teams, and as a result the road to the NBA title always went through one of the three teams. The rest of the league was largely irrelevant when it came to determining the championship.

Until this year, that is. For the first time since 2007, a ruling-class team failed to register at least 1 series win in a playoff season, as the Magic fell to the Atlanta Hawks in a 1st-round upset. Yesterday, the Lakers saw their season end against a non-ruling class team for the first time since 2007, losing in embarrassing fashion against the Dallas Mavericks. And the Celtics, for all of Kevin Garnett & Rajon Rondo's heroics in Game 3, still trail Miami's superteam 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

It's tough to make any sweeping statements on the basis of a few week's worth of games, but the 2011 playoffs seem to indicate a major changing of the NBA guard. After having their way with the league's proletariat for three seasons, the once-mighty ruling class now finds itself on the wrong end of a radical upheaval.

Posted in Analysis, History, Playoffs, Trivia | 30 Comments »

Most All-Stars in a Playoff Series (1991-2011)

4th May 2011

This Heat-Celtics series is nothing if not a star-studded affair. A total of seven current All-Stars (Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, & Rajon Rondo) and 2 more former All-Stars (Jermaine O'Neal & Zydrunas Ilgauskas) have drawn minutes in the series so far. But how do those totals stack up to other playoff series since 1991?

First, let's look at the series that featured the most current All-Stars:

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Posted in All-Star Game, Analysis, History, Playoffs, Trivia | 6 Comments »

Tuesday Flashback: May 8, 1997

3rd May 2011

...aka the last time the Hawks beat the Bulls in a playoff game:

  Scoring
  1 2 3 4 T
ATL         103
CHI         95
Four Factors  
Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA ORtg
ATL 89.0 .585 12.2 19.4 .282 115.8
CHI 89.0 .473 7.6 27.7 .087 106.8

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Posted in Boxscore Breakdown, History, SRS | 11 Comments »

Best Road Performances in Opening-Round Game 1s?

18th April 2011

It was a banner weekend for underdogs, as the away teams kicked off the 2011 Playoffs with 3 wins, including victories by the Western Conference #8 and #7 seeds. How do the road teams' performances in this set of opening-round game 1s compare to other years since the playoffs expanded in 1984?

Let's take a look (all numbers from the perspective of the average road team in Game 1 of the 1st round):

Year roadW roadL WPct Margin expected Mgn Diff
2011 3 5 0.375 -0.63 -7.37 6.75
2010 1 7 0.125 -7.88 -4.88 -2.99
2009 4 4 0.500 -5.88 -7.46 1.58
2008 2 6 0.250 -7.13 -6.25 -0.88
2007 3 5 0.375 -2.75 -7.71 4.96
2006 1 7 0.125 -10.38 -6.14 -4.24
2005 2 6 0.250 -8.25 -6.23 -2.02
2004 0 8 0.000 -14.75 -7.02 -7.73
2003 4 4 0.500 -1.13 -6.95 5.82
2002 1 7 0.125 -8.25 -5.92 -2.33
2001 3 5 0.375 -1.25 -5.03 3.78
2000 2 6 0.250 -3.63 -6.29 2.67
1999 2 6 0.250 -7.75 -6.41 -1.34
1998 2 6 0.250 -8.13 -6.67 -1.45
1997 1 7 0.125 -15.13 -7.42 -7.70
1996 3 5 0.375 -5.00 -7.94 2.94
1995 1 7 0.125 -17.63 -6.90 -10.73
1994 2 6 0.250 -8.88 -6.41 -2.46
1993 2 6 0.250 -10.75 -8.19 -2.56
1992 1 7 0.125 -12.50 -9.63 -2.87
1991 3 5 0.375 -1.75 -9.25 7.50
1990 0 8 0.000 -11.75 -8.46 -3.29
1989 2 6 0.250 -4.75 -9.61 4.86
1988 0 8 0.000 -10.00 -9.86 -0.14
1987 1 7 0.125 -12.00 -10.24 -1.76
1986 1 7 0.125 -16.25 -9.91 -6.34
1985 1 7 0.125 -11.38 -7.78 -3.60
1984 3 5 0.375 -2.00 -7.87 5.87

(Click column headers to sort by each category.)

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Posted in Analysis, History, Playoffs, SRS, Statgeekery, Trivia | 3 Comments »

Mailbag: The Redd-Randolph All-Stars

11th April 2011

Here's an idea sent my way courtesy of BBR reader Rob P.:

"Can you think of players who had excellent 'per-36-minute' stat lines on limited
minutes, and who either outperformed or seriously underperformed those 'per-36'
numbers once given an increase in minutes?

I'm a Celtics fan, so Glen Davis comes to mind as being a good example of
someone who produced close to their per-36 averages upon being given a larger
role.

I'm curious about some of the extremes; players whose averages were seriously
impacted by an increase in minutes. Basically examples that make you think, 'it
was a bad idea to give this guy more minutes' OR 'I can't believe he's been
coming off the bench all this time instead of starting!'"

One of the big early battlegrounds of APBRmetrics was the philosophical debate between per-minute and per-game statistics. Per-game was the traditional standard, but analysts like John Hollinger began to tear that way of thinking down after realizing per-minute performance held over for most players who received more playing time. From Hollinger's seminal 2004-05 Pro Basketball Forecast:

"It's a pretty simple concept, but one that has largely escaped most NBA front offices: The idea that what a player does on a per-minute basis is far more important than his per-game stats. The latter tend to be influenced more by playing time than by the quality of play, yet remain the most common metric of player performance.

[...]

Unfortunately, many NBA execs and fans still believe that somebody can be a '20 minute player' -- that he's only useful in short stretches but can't play a full game. With the exception of the rare few who are scandalously out of shape (Oliver Miller, for example), this is profoundly untrue. [Michael] Redd was the perfect example -- he was thought of as a bench player simple because that's what he'd always been, but there was no reason he couldn't play 40 minutes a night. There's a supposition that some players' production will decrease with increased minutes, but within reason that's completely untrue. The first Prospectus emphatically proved this with research showing that most player's [sic] performance improves with greater playing time."

Hollinger's examples of predictable "breakouts" from per-minute stats included Redd, Zach Randolph, Carlos Boozer, and Andrei Kirilenko, all of whom held onto their low-MPG production when thrust into bigger roles. In fact, Hollinger featured Redd on the cover of his 2nd book as an example of a player with great per-minute stats who was underrated because of a lack of playing time.

So, to answer Rob's original question, and in honor of Hollinger's early per-minute darlings, here are the "Redd-Randolph All-Stars". To qualify, a player had to:

  • play in the "Hollinger Era" (the 1990s, 2000s, or 2010s)
  • play at least 41 games in back-to-back seasons
  • play less than 24 MPG in the first of the back-to-back seasons, and more than 24 MPG in the second
  • see an increase of at least 7 MPG between the two seasons

Of that group (which included 320 players since 1990), I'll list 3 top-5 lists: players who improved their PERs the most when given increased playing time, players whose PERs were the closest to what they had been before when given increased playing time, and players whose PERs declined the most with an increase in PT. This will capture all of the possible extremes Rob mentioned, plus the Hollinger prototype of players whose PERs didn't change at all.

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Mailbag, History, Statgeekery, Totally Useless, Trivia | 33 Comments »

Mailbag: Last-Place Teams Who Beat the League’s Best

6th April 2011

Longtime BBR reader Imadogg had a great observation/question last Wednesday:

"Last night, the last place Cavs beat the Greatest Team Ever Assembled, the Miami Heat. That means this year, the Cavaliers have defeated the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat... 3 of the top 6 teams in the league (record-wise, as of now), and the current 2, 2, and 3 seeds.

When was the last time this happened, that the last place team in the entire league defeated half of the top 6 teams in a single season? Maybe it happens more often than I think, but I'd be surprised."

I was finally able to research this today. First, I searched for teams ranked last (or tied for last) in the NBA in WPct. Then, I searched for teams ranked in the top 6 (again, with ties) in WPct, and counted how many different times those teams had been beaten by the last-place teams. Here's every instance in NBA history where a last-place team by WPct beat at least 3 of the top 6 teams by WPct:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Just For Fun, Trivia | 15 Comments »

It Finally Happened!!!!

4th April 2011

...Artis Gilmore is going to be a Hall of Famer!

This means we will have to come up with a new answer to #6 on our Keltner List posts.

Posted in Announcements, Hall of Fame, History, Layups | 78 Comments »

Double, Triple, and Quad-Double Leaders (1986-2011)

4th April 2011

A lot of users have been asking for double- and triple-double leaderboards, so I thought I would make some now that we have gamelog data going back to 1986.

Here are the career double-double leaders since then:

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Posted in Data Dump, History, Just For Fun | 32 Comments »

Best Game Scores of 1985-86

30th March 2011

Since we now have boxscore data from the 1985-86 regular season on the site, I thought it'd be fun to look at the top 50 individual single-game performances of that season according to the various "game score" metrics out there. First, here were the top games by John Hollinger's game score:

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Posted in Data Dump, History, Site Features, Statgeekery | 29 Comments »