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Archive for May, 2010

Mega 2010 NBA Finals Preview: L.A. Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

31st May 2010

2010 Playoffs Home2010 Playoff Previews

West #1 Los Angeles Lakers (69-29)

Coach: Phil Jackson
SRS: 4.78 (5th of 30) ▪ Pace Factor: 92.8 (14th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 108.8 (11th of 30) ▪ Defensive Rating: 103.7 (4th of 30)

How They Got Here:
Won NBA Western Conference Finals (4-2) versus Phoenix Suns
Won NBA Western Conference Semifinals (4-0) versus Utah Jazz
Won NBA Western Conference First Round (4-2) versus OKC Thunder

2010 Lakers Playoff Stats

Regular Season Four Factors:

Team eFG% Rank TOV% Rank ORB% Rank FT/FGA Rank
Los Angeles Lakers 0.496 15 0.124 5 0.276 7 0.221 18
Los Angeles Lakers - Opp 0.484 6 0.132 18 0.256 9 0.195 2

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs | 16 Comments »

Career Playoff Quality of Defenses Faced (1991-2010)

28th May 2010

Yesterday, we had a discussion about Kobe Bryant's surprisingly Vince Carter-esque numbers in career "crucial" games (defined as a Conference Semifinal game or later; Game 3 or later; series tied, within 1 game either way, or an elimination game for the trailing team). A commenter brought up the possibility that Bryant had faced tougher defenses than other stars in his playoff career, so today I'm going to run the numbers for players since 1991 and see who actually has faced the toughest defenses in their playoff careers, first in all games, then just in "crucial" games.

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Posted in Analysis, Data Dump, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 37 Comments »

Seizing the Moment in Crucial Games

27th May 2010

After watching Marv Albert's fantastic interview with President Obama a few nights ago, I ended up unearthing this old video, Marv's dramatic setup for Game 5 of the 1997 Finals:

Marv was at his best in that clip, practically lending biblical overtones to John Stockton's feats in Game 4, and I was so inspired by Albert's proclamation that Stock "seized the moment like few others in NBA history" that I wanted to find the players who had the best career performances in crucial games like that Game 4.

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Posted in Data Dump, History, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 25 Comments »

Layups: Blogger Q&A with Kenny Smith

26th May 2010

Over the weekend, I was invited to participate in's Blogger Q&A with TNT analyst/2-time NBA champion Kenny "The Jet" Smith, so I asked him a question about the format of the Finals and how it felt to have home-court advantage (and disadvantage) in the NBA Finals. Many thanks to YouCast and the NBA for setting this up!

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Which Remaining Team Plays Its Best Lineups the Most?

26th May 2010

At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in March, Mavs owner Mark Cuban remarked that he could tell which teams used advanced stats and which didn't simply by looking at who their most frequent lineups were. For instance, some teams put out combinations where Cuban said he understood why the coaches thought it would be good for the team, but the +/- numbers showed that the team was losing badly when that group was on the floor. So one way of evaluating coaches is to look at their most frequently-used lineups and see how they match up with a list of the team's most effective lineups by either adjusted +/- or, in the absence of that, raw +/-. Here's how the remaining four coaches (Alvin Gentry, Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, & Stan Van Gundy) have been doing so far:

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 16 Comments »

The 2010 Suns at Staples Center

25th May 2010

What is it about the Phoenix Suns and Staples Center this season? The Lakers are a good home team, having gone 34-7 with a +8.5 PPG differential in L.A. this season, so that's a big part of the explanation. But when Phoenix plays them there, their problems seem to go further than typical home-court advantage effects -- look at the difference between the Suns' Four Factors at Staples and at the US Airways Center:

2010 Suns vs. Lakers
Location PtsF PtsA win loss Pace ORtg eFG% Tov% Orb% FTr DRtg oeFG% oTov% oOrb% oFTr
@PHO 332 314 2 1 94.4 117.2 50.6 10.6 27.4 31.6 110.8 51.5 14.8 27.0 17.7
@LAL 409 481 0 4 95.4 107.2 48.3 14.4 29.1 20.6 126.0 60.3 12.8 29.1 21.2

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 9 Comments »

Playoff “Quarterbacks”: Rajon Rondo or Tom Brady?

24th May 2010

As an announcer, Mark Jackson sure loves to repeat himself. Whether it's "Mama there goes that man," "Hand down, man down," or my personal favorite, "Grown man move" (clip unavailable), Jackson's canned go-to phrases are a staple of any ESPN broadcast -- especially when cutting to a commercial break, serving to punctuate an important replay with, well, words that have lost all meaning.

Recently, though, Jackson's been repeating another comment he began to make during Rajon Rondo's triple-double vs. Cleveland two weeks ago. Here's a variation from Saturday night:

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Posted in Analysis, History, Insane ideas, Just For Fun, Playoffs | 10 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: Fewest Points by a Team’s Leading Scorer in a Game

23rd May 2010

A short mailbag entry today, courtesy of a question from BBR reader Luka:

"What is the record for the lowest top scorer for a team in a NBA game?"

Well, we only have game-by-game box score data back to 1986-87, but in that span, the "record" for fewest points leading a team is 8 -- it was set on March 6, 2004, when Denver's Carmelo Anthony, Jon Barry, Earl Boykins, Marcus Camby, Voshon Lenard, and Rodney White all scored exactly 8 vs. Detroit:

The Nuggets lost the game by 31 points, though... The fewest points by a leading scorer in a win? Avery Johnson & Vernon "Mad Max" Maxwell scored 10 apiece to lead San Antonio over Cleveland on March 25, 1997, in what had to be one of the most unwatchable games in NBA history:

Posted in BBR Mailbag | 3 Comments »

Championship Usage Patterns III: Regular-Season Teams Built For the Playoffs

21st May 2010

In Part II of this series, I developed a method of estimating a team's probability of winning the NBA Championship based on the allocation of their possessions among their top 5 players. The idea is that, assuming 2 teams are championship-caliber, the one who follows the time-tested pattern of Star 1a + Star 1b + 3 role players will be more likely to win a championship. Today, I'm going to apply this to all regular-season teams in NBA history, and see which teams were theoretically built for postseason success, then look at what actually happened to them.

First, we need to define what it means to be a "championship-caliber team". Historically, the average regular-season SRS of all NBA champions is 6.07, and the median SRS is 6.059. Obviously, teams have won with SRS scores of under 6 (the 2006 Heat were the last team to do so), but as a general rule, if you post an SRS of 6 or greater during the regular-season, you have established yourself as either the odds-on favorite or at least one of the leading candidates to win the NBA title, which is what we're going for here.

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 6 Comments »

Layups: Celtics’ Playoff D Forces Turnovers At a Historic Rate

20th May 2010

Over at Celtics Hub, Zach Lowe looked at our defensive 4 factors numbers in this year's playoffs, and saw that the Boston Celtics are forcing an absolutely ridiculous % of turnovers... And not just relative to this year's teams, but relative to some of the greatest playoff defenses of all-time, despite hand-checking rules geared to reduce turnovers. Which is one of the biggest reasons why the Celts are playing better on D in these playoffs than they did in 2008, when they were one of the greatest defensive teams in NBA history.

(Hat tip: TrueHoop.)

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