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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Heat-Bulls: The Biggest Turnaround Of The Past 30 Years


With the Game 5 win in Chicago, the Heat completed the biggest turnaround for an Eastern Conference Champion in at least 30 years; they have had the best regular season to playoff improvement against their CF and CSF opponents.  Their regular season record against their conference semifinals and conference finals opponents, the Celtics and Bulls, was a combined 1-6.  Winning in 5 gives them a .658 improvement in win percentage, from .142 to .800.  The table below ranks the improvements of the last 30 Eastern Conference Champions.

Table Notables:
Ten of these teams had losing regular season records against their CSF and CF opponents.
Five teams had worse records in the playoffs than the regular season.



Other Posts:


Game Seven In The NBA Playoffs: Home-Court Advantage Is Overstated.


The most irritating cliché that I’ve heard is that the home team wins Game 7 of the series most of the time.  Since 1991, the home team is 36-10, a .783 win percentage.  This stat is always brought up without being put into proper context; as if to say having Game 7 at home causes a team to win.  However, I’ve never heard a commentator mention that the team with home-court advantage has a better record and usually is the better team anyway.  One would expect them to win a Game 7 at home, or on the road.  In this article, I will try to find out how many Game 7s were won by the home team mainly because they were at home. 

The table below tries to get the answer to the previous question.  The basic premise of the table is that the more road wins there are in a series, the less home-court advantage matters.  I separate Games 1-4 from Games 5-7 because the last three games of a series are usually more intense than the first four and home-court matters slightly, but still materially more in the last three games.  Since 1991, in Games 1-4 the road team wins 32% of the time while in Games 5-7 the road wins 25% of the time.  I rate, on a four point scale, the probability of the home team winning Game 7 mainly because they’re at home.  The four outcomes are: Yes, Probable, Doubtful, and No.  This is scale far from perfect, but it appears sufficient to conclude that Game 7 home-court advantage is overstated.

Here are two examples of how the table works: The 2004 series between Miami and New Orleans produced no road wins, so it would be safe to say that the home team won Game 7 because of the home court advantage. 
The 2003 Detroit-Orlando series produced two road wins, Detroit winning that Game 7 was more likely due to them being a better team than due to home-court advantage. 
The table below shows the eleven first-round series that went to Game 7 since the first round expanded in 2003. 

                                                                First Round:
The home team won 9 of the 11 Game 7s, but how many of those 9 wins were mainly because of home-court advantage?  According to the table, only 5 of the 9 wins were at least probably due to home-court advantage alone.  That means that 4 of the 9 home-team wins probably had nothing to do with home-court advantage.  Home-court advantage, at least in the first round of the playoffs, seems greatly overstated. 
 
                                               Conference Semi-Finals:
                               
The home team won 17 of the 23 Game 7s, but how many of those 17 wins were mainly because of home-court advantage?  According to the table, only 11 of the 17 wins were at least probably due to home-court advantage alone.  That means that 6 of the 17 home-team wins probably had nothing to do with home-court advantage.  Home-court advantage in the Conference Semifinals’ Game 7s, appears to be overstated, as it did in the first round of the playoffs.



                                            Conference & NBA Finals:

The home team won 10 of the 12 Game 7s, but how many of those 10 wins were mainly because of home-court advantage?  According to the table, only 6 of the 10 wins were at least probably due to home-court advantage alone.  That means that 4 of the 10 home-team wins probably had nothing to do with home-court advantage.  Home-court advantage in the Conference and NBA Finals’ Game 7s, appears to be overstated, as it did in the first round and conference semifinals of the playoffs.


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Playoff Sweeps: Some Are Worse Than Others.

What were the most competitive playoff sweeps of the last 20 years?  The table below displays them, as measured by average margin of victory.

1991-2010

Aside from the 1994 Bulls-Cavs series, an argument can be made that all these series were won because of the experience difference between the winning and losing team.  The talent gap between the winning and losing team was small, hence the close games, but the experience difference was astounding and allowed the winning team win every game of the series.  The 2000 Knicks-Raptors series was the most competitive.  That series was notable for a number of reasons; it marked the beginning of the end of the Knicks’ early to late 90s run, it was the last time the Knicks won a playoff game at the Garden, and it was the series that got Tracy McGrady his Orlando Magic max contract. 
Now we take a look at the least competitive playoff sweeps of the last 20 years as shown by the table below.


1991-2010

There seems to be no common rhyme or reason for these series, aside from the fact the Hawks and Heat combined to lose six of them and the Bulls seemed to have one every year of the championship run.  The Bulls did not play around with inferior teams in the first round; they knocked those teams out of their misery pretty quickly. Another notable is the Hawks playoff losses in 2009 and 2010; they were dominated by the Cavs and the Magic, respectively.  That stat and this year’s series against Orlando may speak volumes about the difference between Mike Woodson and Larry Drew.


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Game 7 In The NBA Playoffs: Home-Court Advantage Is Overstated.



As the NBA playoffs are in full swing, no doubt you’re hearing dozens of clichés thrown around by commentators.  The most irritating cliché is that the home team wins Game 7 of the series most of the time.  Since 1991, the home team is 36-10, a .783 win percentage.  This stat is always brought up without being put into proper context; as if to say having Game 7 at home causes a team to win.  However, I’ve never heard a commentator mention that the team with home-court advantage has a better record and usually is the better team anyway.  One would expect them to win a Game 7 at home, or on the road.  In this article, I will try to find out how many Game 7s were won by the home team mainly because they were at home. 

The table below tries to get the answer to the previous question.  The basic premise of the table is that the more road wins there are in a series, the less home-court advantage matters.  I separate Games 1-4 from Games 5-7 because the last three games of a series are usually more intense than the first four and home-court matters slightly, but still materially more in the last three games.  Since 1991, in Games 1-4 the road team wins 32% of the time while in Games 5-7 the road wins 25% of the time.  I rate, on a four point scale, the probability of the home team winning Game 7 mainly because they’re at home.  The four outcomes are: Yes, Probable, Doubtful, and No.  This is scale far from perfect, but it appears sufficient to conclude that Game 7 home-court advantage is overstated.

Here are two examples of how the table works: The 2004 series between Miami and New Orleans produced no road wins, so it would be safe to say that the home team won Game 7 because of the home court advantage; The 2003 Detroit-Orlando series produced two road wins, Detroit winning that Game 7 was more likely due to them being a better team than due to home-court advantage.  The table below shows the eleven first-round series that went to Game 7 since the first round expanded in 2003. 


                                                                First Round:

The home team won 9 of the 11 Game 7s, but how many of those 9 wins were mainly because of home-court advantage?  According to the table, only 5 of the 9 wins were at least probably due to home-court advantage alone.  That means that 4 of the 9 home-team wins probably had nothing to do with home-court advantage.  Home-court advantage, at least in the first round of the playoffs, seems greatly overstated. 



                                               Conference Semi-Finals:

                               

The home team won 17 of the 23 Game 7s, but how many of those 17 wins were mainly because of home-court advantage?  According to the table, only 11 of the 17 wins were at least probably due to home-court advantage alone.  That means that 6 of the 17 home-team wins probably had nothing to do with home-court advantage.  Home-court advantage in the Conference Semifinals’ Game 7s, appears to be overstated, as it did in the first round of the playoffs.



                                            Conference & NBA Finals:

The home team won 10 of the 12 Game 7s, but how many of those 10 wins were mainly because of home-court advantage?  According to the table, only 6 of the 10 wins were at least probably due to home-court advantage alone.  That means that 4 of the 10 home-team wins probably had nothing to do with home-court advantage.  Home-court advantage in the Conference and NBA Finals’ Game 7s, appears to be overstated, as it did in the first round and conference semifinals of the playoffs.


Related Posts:


http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/05/wait-til-next-year-which-league-gives.html


http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/sweep-revenge-how-teams-bounce-back.html


http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/nfl-draft-how-good-were-top-100-picks.html


http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/playoff-sweeps-some-are-worse-than.html


http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/nfls-new-kickoff-rules-are-they.html











Dwyane Wade: The Most Important Player? (Click Image to Enlarge)

As stated in an earlier study, the Heat lose when they don’t shoot well. It sounds obvious, but a team like the Celtics or Lakers still win games when they don’t shoot well. I used to think that Bosh playing well was the key to Miami victories, but it seems more like Dwyane Wade is the X-factor. His field goal percentage is more than 100 points or ten percentage points lower in losses than in wins. He gets to the line at the same rate, but his FT% is over 79 points lower. He even averages almost one and a half more turnovers in losses than he does in wins. Although Lebron and Chris Bosh also shoot significantly worse in Miami losses, the other aspects of their respective games are not materially different in wins and losses.

Click Table to Enlarge

This table suggests that generally, Wade’s overall play, and specifically his shooting, is the difference in Miami wins and losses. This conclusion is also evident when watching the Heat play; Wade has had some mind-boggling turnovers and questionable shot selection at different points of the season.

Related Posts:

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/playoff-sweeps-some-are-worse-than.html

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/can-nba-team-peak-too-soon-and-still.html

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/carmelo-what-has-he-done-to-knicks.html
http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-to-beat-miami-heat-click-image-to.html

How To Beat The Miami Heat (Click Image to Enlarge)

Based on the table below and the Heat games I have seen, here’s how to beat the Heat:
When the Heat are offense it usually doesn’t matter who they’re playing; either they’re making their shots or not.  They shoot 49.8% in their wins vs 43.2% in their losses, and from three they shoot 40.8% in their wins and 30.2% in losses.  The opposing defense can affect the Heat offense by playing great team defense (the Celtics); play any other way on defense(relying on one or two good defenders) and you lose.
Ball movement is the key to an opposing offense beating the Heat defense; they have several good on-ball defenders.  In their losses, 62% of the opposing teams field goals are assisted compared to 55% in their wins.  If your teams plays an isolation offense revolving around one player, they no chance against the Heat D. 
Looking at these stats, there’s no wonder the Heat haven’t beaten the Bulls or Celtics this season.

 
 

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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