Dallas-Miami Game 5: A Rare Offensive Show In The Finals.

In tonight’s Game 5, Dallas and Miami both shot at least 50% from the field; this feat has been accomplished only 4 other times since the 1991 Finals.  This was a beautiful game to watch; it was more about great shooting than about poor defense.  Oddly enough, every one of the other instances involved the Lakers; it’s probably just a product of them making the Finals seemingly every other year.
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Game 4: The Lakers Showed Their True Colors.

This edition of the Lakers has shown what they’re really made of; no closeouts on Dallas’ three-point shooters, and no defensive intensity led to their record-setting 36-point defeat.  Additionally, I don’t think Odom’s and Bynum’s behavior are reflective of the Lakers organization, but it sums up what’s been going on with the Lakers all season.    
In the above table, a strong defending NBA champ is defined as one that is a 1 or 2 seed in the playoffs.  Dallas’ win over the Lakers today puts them in position to reach the NBA Finals.  Since 1981, there have been 9 “strong” defending NBA champs beaten in the playoffs the next season, and they lost their final game by an average margin of 9.9 points.

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Lakers-Mavericks: Why Haven’t They Played More In The Playoffs.

An interesting stat came to mind as the Lakers/Mavs series is set to start.  Kobe and Dirk have never played each other in the playoffs.  The table below tries to find out if this quirky stat is because they just missed playing each other in some years or because they weren’t on track to play each other.  The table assumes that the Western Conference Playoffs go chalk, or all the higher seeds win their series.  An example of how the chart works is:  If the playoffs went according to the seeding, the Lakers should have played Denver 3 times, but only played them twice.   

I think the real interesting stat is not that the Lakers and Mavs haven’t played each other in the playoffs during the Kobe-Dirk era, but that they were only expected to play once in the 9 times that they have been in the playoffs together.  No other Western Conference team had as many common playoff appearances with Lakers, with as few expected matchups with the Lakers.

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Kobe vs Lebron and Wade: Does He Play Differently Against Them? (Click Image to Enlarge)

How does Kobe’s game change when he plays against his closest peers, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade?  The table above attempts to answer the question, and all stats are on a per 36 minute basis.  I’ll start with Wade.  Kobe is record is 7-7 against Wade; Kobe takes almost two shots less per game, and when playing against Wade his field goal percentage barely changes.  His rebounds decrease by 1.6 and assists and steals don’t really change much.  It seems that Kobe plays a less aggressive game when he plays Wade; the rebounding and shot taking numbers are evidence of that.  A plausible reason could be that he guards Wade for much of the game and becomes slightly less effective in the other parts of his game. 

Kobe is 5-9 against Lebron in their head-to-head match-ups.  It seems that Kobe puts more effort into the Lebron games than in the Wade games.  His field goal attempts increase slightly, but he is less effective.  His FG% against Lebron is .410 vs .456 against the rest of the league.  Even though he takes fewer three pointers against Lebron’s teams, his two-point field goal attempts seem to be either long-range shots or high degree of difficulty shots.  His FG% on two point shots is .446 against Lebron and .491 against the rest of the league; a big difference.
The numbers seem to indicate that Kobe plays with more aggression against Lebron, but as it seems most times when Kobe is extra aggressive, he forces the issue and doesn’t play at his most efficient level.

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