Posted by Neil Paine on June 4, 2010
After last night's Laker rout, in which a foul-troubled Ray Allen only took the floor for 27 minutes, I wondered how important it was for the Celtics to have Allen play a substantial amount of time. Because while he may be the 3rd-best player on the team (4th-best if Garnett is anything like his vintage self), his ability to knock down huge threes has been indispensable to Boston over the past 3 years, especially in these playoffs.
To make a quick-and-dirty test on how important it was for Allen to play 30 or more minutes in a game, I created a sort of bastardized version of Adjusted Plus-Minus (using RS + playoff data in the "Big Three" era -- 2008-10) that predicts a team's homecourt-adjusted efficiency differential in every game based on whether or not any given player played at least 30 minutes or not in the game (a 48 minute game, that is -- the threshold was proportionally higher for OT games).
Controlling for the player's teammates and opponents in the game, we can get a rough estimate of what the impact in efficiency differential is on a given player playing 30 or more MPG. Here are the results for all 450 players who had a 30+ minute game in the past 3 years (except Lorenzen Wright, who had 1 such game and was dropped due to singularity issues).
Obviously, the sample sizes are small and the standard errors are huge there, but if we limit the list just to guys who had 50 or more 30+ minute games (the players with the smallest standard errors), look who leads the way:
|Player||30mp Games||Estimate||Std. Error||t value||Pr(>|t|)|
(View the full table here.)
Obviously, Allen's foul trouble was not the Celtics' only problem in last night's game -- on defense, L.A. was getting to the rim with impunity, and there's not much Allen could have done to stop it that his replacements weren't already doing. But he could have spaced the floor better on offense and opened up room for Boston to attack the basket instead of hoisting contested Js. Either way, we'll see what kind of adjustments the coaches make before Sunday's Game 2, and I'm sure keeping Allen out of foul trouble will be high on Doc Rivers' list.