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LakerTracker 2010: Games 1-5

Posted by Neil Paine on June 15, 2010

Last week, I took a look at Kobe Bryant's performance vs. the Boston Celtics in Games 1-3 of the Finals, and how it compared to his performance against them in 2008, as well as LeBron James' performance against them a month ago. With 2 more games having passed, it's time to update the numbers:

Player Year G Min ORtg %Pos DRtg DPA Floor% Stop%
Bryant 2008 5 215 102.3 32.3 105.3 -1.66 0.483 0.559
James 2010 5 209 110.0 31.4 107.6 0.78 0.529 0.557
Bryant 2010 5 204 109.0 36.0 105.5 -0.74 0.481 0.556
Player Year MPG T/Min %Pass %Shoot %Fouled %TO
Bryant 2008 43.1 1.58 50 32 12 6
James 2010 41.7 1.68 55 27 13 5
Bryant 2010 40.8 1.49 43 39 11 7
Player Year P/36 2P% 3P% FT% TS% %FGA FTr 3Ptd
Bryant 2008 22.1 44.4 31.6 77.3 51.4 31.6% 40.4 17.4
James 2010 23.1 53.5 22.7 74.1 56.5 30.0% 62.4 23.7
Bryant 2010 26.7 44.6 37.8 92.1 55.2 38.0% 31.7 30.8
Player Year AsR ToR PPR OR% DR% Blk% Stl%
Bryant 2008 27.0 14.6 0.15 3.9 10.1 0.4 3.7
James 2010 32.9 14.4 1.92 3.7 18.3 2.5 2.5
Bryant 2010 25.2 16.0 -3.11 3.1 15.7 1.9 2.8

You have to give the slight edge to Bryant over James at this point. Defensively, the best guess (given conflicting DRtg and DPA numbers) is that they've been even; offensively, Bryant has the lower ORtg by a point but has done it while taking on 4.6% more team possessions when on the floor, and we know that each extra % of team possessions used will drop your rating by roughly a point. Neither player was their usual selves through 5 games, though, and both players have suffered the dilemma of whether or not to take over the game themselves (a strategy the Celtics have shown a willingness to live with -- and an ability to limit the efficiency of), or to defer to ice-cold teammates.

Above all, I think this is a huge testament to the Celtics' team defense, as they've been able to effectively slow down two of the best offensive forces of this generation and grind their respective offenses to a halt. If the Celtics prevail tonight, we have to think about adding this "Big Four" team to the list of the great defensive dynasties in NBA history.

UPDATE: Bob Voulgaris had a nice post on the same topic yesterday... James has been better than Bryant against every other defense during the last 3 playoffs, but against the Celtics, Bryant has been able to retain more of his usual form than James. It's a Celtics thing, apparently -- when healthy, their defense dominates the opponent's top scorer.

18 Responses to “LakerTracker 2010: Games 1-5”

  1. nimble Says:

    Thanks,great post!
    Hope Lakers take this game and win it all 7.Kobe,I hope, will not be bashful,he has to keep attacking, no matter what haters would say.

  2. Jason J Says:

    Neil, quit hating on Kobe and pointing out how he's playing better against the Celtics than LeBron did. We know your anti-Kobe agenda! Actually this may provide the first piece of unbiased evidence supporting the pro-Kobe notion that while LeBron may be the more efficient player in most instances, his more limited skillset can be impeded by a determined defense, while Kobe's broader range of scoring skills give him greater flexibility. Not that he's tearing the world apart or anything, but it's the first concrete data I've seen to back up the notion.

    Also, how does DWade stacked up to this same defense through 5 games in round 1?

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    I think I'm going to revisit this post after the Finals end:

    I need to update it for this year, maybe include multiple seasons (the Kobe/LeBron/DWade era). I definitely think there may be something to the idea that Kobe can play better against certain types of defenses than LeBron, or maybe DWade is better than both against other types. Although apparently all 3 are powerless vs. the Celts. :)

  4. Hk Says:

    What puzzles me about Voulgaris is "ppp". Does that account for Rebounding or passing? LeBron isn't just a pure scorer so I'm not sure about that metric.

    How about Win Shares/48? It would seem to me that if they both produce the same PER for example, while using a lower usage rate that leads to a more Win Shares from what I've observed.

    Jason J: You did see 2008 right? I haven't seen any evidence LeBron has a more "limited" skillset. To me limited also applies to shot selection and inability to maintain consistency over your entire career.

    LeBron did play in 2008 against Boston, remember? I would say he did outplay Bryant that year as well (according to game score).

  5. Hk Says:

    I would also add, that Paul Pierce was erased by LeBron James. Look at his game score in that series for example, I'm not sure their defensive abilities were equal.

  6. Jason J Says:

    HK, I'm just trying to see it from a Kobe fan perspective, and as a displaced Mainer, that is tough to do. I still think LeBron's biggest problem was his elbow this year, but that doesn't make for a dramatic conversation.

  7. Jason J Says:

    I do think Pierce's offense was more erased by the effort that he spent contesting James on defense than by James defending him. He dedicated himself like he was Bruce Bowen in that series and left the offense to Rondini. That's just what I felt like I saw though and in no way meant to knock anyone.

  8. Hk Says:

    Oh of course, the elbow was a factor (Hollinger did a piece about his jumpshooting on only 1 day's rest). I have no doubt this wouldn't be a discussion normally.

    That may be true about Pierce, Jason J. However that is directly due to LeBron's abilities and not Andy or any of his other teammates. On an individual level, the one-on-one matchup LeBron is mostly responsible for, I would say he gets the edge over what Kobe did to Rondo. LeBron gets hurt by his team's defenses that series in D-Rating (Remember Jamison against KG and Parker on Rondo).

    I can't remember off hand Pierce having such an awful series in his entire career. And to compound this huge drop off, Pierce was a beast against Orlando in the following round, clearly superior to Rondo.

    Pierce has a higher WS/48 in these playoffs over Rondo, and he's had tougher matchups in the playoffs.

  9. Hk Says:

    From Voulgaris:

    "An offensive metric that I really like to use is points per possession - this is much better than any offensive efficiency metric because it takes into account all of the possession altering offensive actions a player might make;

    (Shots, turnovers and fouls drawn)"

    Yeah it sounds like an inferior Game Score. And definitely not better than any offensive efficiency metric.

  10. Hk Says:


    I certainly wouldn't mind an update, it seems Wade struggled against top 5 defenses this season (regular season). If we want to take playoff performance into account, LeBron seemed to dominante the # 1 defense last year to the highest level I've seen in a while. He has no problems with tough defenses, I suspected that sample size was always an issue in that post.

    FWIW, Wade seemed to really struggle against top 5 defenses this year, not including Boston.

  11. CR Says:

    Random question: How come you're not also including LeBron's performance against Boston in 2008?

  12. Neil Paine Says:

    No real reason, except that 2008 series took place before the consensus had been formed that LeBron was the best player in the game.

  13. Walter Says:

    Can we get an update on this now that the Lakers have played 6 games just like the Cavs? I know Lebron had a great line of points, rebounds, and assists in game 6 but did have a ton of turnovers and wasn't very efficient.

  14. Neil Paine Says:

    Will post tomorrow.

  15. Mo Says:

    "I would also add, that Paul Pierce was erased by LeBron James. Look at his game score in that series for example, I'm not sure their defensive abilities were equal."

    And how has Rondo done against the Lakers? During the first three rounds, Rondo was arguably the most productive player on any playoff team. He has largely become a non-factor in the series with the Lakers. He's had a decent game here and there, but he's no longer the brutal triple double machine he was prior.

  16. Hk Says:

    Rondo was great the first TWO rounds maybe. Against Arroyo and Mo/Parker. I'm not sure how that is impressive.

    In Orlando he did jack. Pierce was not affected by Howard's presence much, and he dominated Orlando. Pierce has been the better player and he was erased to a larger degree according to Game Score.

  17. Hk Says:

    2010 playoffs WS/48: .133 for Pierce

    2010 playoffs WS/48: .131 for Rondo

    However in Round 2 Pierce had a game score of 7.31 on average. That is truly pathetic, Jordan Farmar ish.

    Rajon Rondo in the Finals, 11.55, nice D, but not at Bron's level.

    Defensive rating means nothing in this situation, it is a team stat.

  18. Neil Paine Says:

    Crap, I forgot to update this today... Whatever happens tonight, I'll finish up this series with the stats through 6 and through 7 games.