Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Clyde & Tommy, An APBRmetrics Sci-Fi Tale (Part I)

Part I, The Event.

It was fifty-five degrees in Boston that night, but inside Corporate Sponsor Garden it was much warmer, and that wasn’t just because the thermostat was set at seventy degrees. No, there had been a geological Event at the arena, two teams tectonically grinding against one another for forty-eight minutes.

Unbeknownst to one another, our heroes, Walter “Clyde” Frazier and Thomas William Heinsohn, both emerge from the magmatic arena at precisely 9:48pm. Also unbeknownst to the pair is the fact that the energy from The Event has unlocked a mysterious force, and that force will be the reason why neither Heinsohn nor Frazier will have any recollection of the events that take place between 9:52 and 10:25pm. It will be the reason the two regain awareness at each others’ side, sitting at the bar of a certain famous pub… A pub where everybody knows your name.

Here they sit: A lemon-lime soda bubbles below Clyde’s goateed chin. His slow-blinking eyes and peaked complexion lend to our impression of him as a man contemplating a matter of grave importance. Tom wears the downturned smirk that a man saves for only those days when the his own will and the will of the universe are most in agreement. He toys with the condensation on his tumbler glass, in which a golden liquid and several cubes of ice rest.

“There are 35 milliliters of alcohol in this glass,” Heinsohn says. “I have no idea why I know that, but I know.”

“That is correct,” Clyde responds. “Our bartender has been generous to you. That is 1.16 ounces. It is 0.00029 barrels. It is 0.00032 Carmelo Anthonys. I too feel confused by my mathematical prowess.” He leans back in his chair, withdrawing from the conversation.

Tom doesn’t seem to notice this gesture. He goes on: “You know Ray-jawn – that was just ridiculous, ridiculous! – for those New York bums to think they could get away with disrespecting him like that, and he punished them for it–” Tom winces, stops. He reaches to the back of his head and begins to rub, then his hand turns to a fist, gripping what little hair he has left, and in a monotone voice, his eyes wide, he completes the sentence: “by putting up a true shooting percentage of 33.4%. That is 0.7 points per shot if you round. If the entire team had shot like him, they would have scored 61.6 points.”

Numbers make sense?

As Heinsohn finishes speaking, Clyde’s hand shoots to the back of his head, his eyes glowering in pain. He says, “This pain… it’s insane! What’s happening to my brain?” Then he pauses, and in a monotone similar to Heinsohn’s, says, “On average this season, Rondo shoots 41% on two point jumpshots. If he had used every Celtic possession in which they didn’t turn the ball over and shot the ball at his average, the Celtics still would have only scored 72 points.”

The conversation between the two robot-voiced men drones on. Frazier says something about how Paul Pierce has played in 64 playoff games since the big three became the big three, and in only four of those games has he consumed near as many possessions as Anthony with near as poor results. Heinsohn responds by citing Anthony’s play against Pierce since the big three came to be: in four of the eight games, he’s finished with five fouls and overall has had a 51% true shooting percentage.

At this point, a man in a tuxedo materializes behind the bar. “Mr. Heinsohn, Mr. Frazier, I’m Woody.” He smiles and shifts his shoulder. “I’m not used to wearing these clown suits, but the boss said I had to, it being a special occasion and all.”

“What’s so special?” Clyde says.

“Aw, nothing,” Woody replies, shrugging. “Not feeling like yourselves tonight, are you?” He whips his hands out in front of him, producing a two cigars, and props them in the lips of Clyde and Heinsohn. He snaps his fingers, then opens his hands, revealing a flame hovering above each palm. Clyde and Heinsohn lean in and light their cigars.

“Well,” Heinsohn says, “I do feel a bit off kilter. But I put the feeling down to indigestion. It’s hard to digest the numbers here… The only Knick lineup to outscore the Celtics with Garnett on the floor featured Shawne Williams and Landry Fields, and the two only played 28 minutes combined.”

“Yeah,” Clyde says, “But I just thought it was because my head was still swimming after D’Antoni used a staggering fourteen different lineups last night! And on that last play! We need to score, and we’re stuck with Jared Jeffries and Ronny Turiaf on the floor!”

Nothing rhymes with percentage.

Woody smiles at the pair. “Yes,” he says, “everything is going as planned. You two will report back here after game two, and we will continue our little conversation. Until then, sayonara.” He then turns to leave, but a few strides in, turns back. “I almost forgot,” he says, and he opens the tuxedo jacket and removes two shot glasses with a silvery liquid in them and sets them on the bar. “Take these,” he says, “and food for thought — do either of you remember how you got here tonight?”

Clyde and Heinsohn examine the liquid, and when the look back up, Woody has disappeared. “Well,” Clyde says, “bottoms up.” The two drink their drinks, and when they set their glasses down, the bar goes dark; the din of drunken conversations fades and then is gone. A few moments later, the sun peeks through the high windows of the basement pub, and the distant cooing of pigeons reaches the ears of our two heroes.

“Astounding,” Clyde says, as he slips his fur coat on and heads for the exit.

Heinsohn strides up beside him. “Confounding,” he adds.

“Rebounding,” the two say as one.

“You said it, Clyde,” Heinsohn says, and he begins to recite the rebounding percentages of all the major players of the night. “That’s where your boys lost the game.”

16 comments on “Clyde & Tommy, An APBRmetrics Sci-Fi Tale (Part I)

  1. Spree8nyk8

    lol I guess TNT predicts the future, chicago up 5 with 39 seconds left but on the bottom of the score it reads “Chicago leads 2-0″

    it’s rigged!

  2. John Kenney

    Even funnier: The hometown Chitown refs screwed over the pacers in almost the exact same way as the boston refs did to us last night. Tickytack offensive foul on hibbert with under a minute left wipes away a george putback to put the deficit at 2… other end, jeff foster gets thrown out of bounds and the ball hits him as it happens; no offensive foul, but “out of bounds pacers” and bulls ball.
    despicable homerism isn’t just against the knicks!

  3. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I guess guaranteed TV ratings are better than a dozen extra games of gate revenue.

    Tim Donaghy may be a crook and a liar, but he sure as hell wasn’t a crook and a liar about everything.

  4. Shad0wF0x

    @3

    Yeah but wouldn’t Heat vs. Knicks arguably have higher ratings than Heat vs. Celtics?

  5. Frank

    Interesting thing about Chicago-Indy series is that Indy is specifically weak in the areas that Chicago is strongest – they have no one that can credibly guard Rose, and they are an average rebounding team at best. Despite the fact that Rose has gone nuts and Chicago is just totally manhandling Indy on the boards, these games are going down to the wire.

    I think Bulls fans have a lot to be worried about going forward. Their next series would be against Dwight Howard, who will nullify Chicago’s O-Reb advantage, or against Atlanta, who rebounds better than Indy and has Hinrich, who is light-years better on defense than Collison, and two good shotblockers at the rim in Horford and Josh Smith.

  6. d-mar

    @8 I agree, Chicago has been less than impressive. Having every game come down to Derrick Rose rescuing the Bulls by going 1 on 5 has worked so far, but in later rounds may not. The rest of the Bulls offense is really underwhelming, and the only reason Korver has hit big shots is because Indy has been forced to throw double teams at Rose to try and hinder his penetration. I don’t think you’ll see that against future opponents.

  7. Jim Cavan

    Gonna carry this over from a conversation on a previous thread. I’ve been thinking a lot about the inherent problems and issues with NBA refereeing. I’ve tossed around a few hair-brained ideas, including letting teams call their own fouls for the first 10 of each half, but what about having an NFL-like challenge system? What if we were to give coaches, say, 2 challenges per half (not to be carried over)?

    Technology has gotten to a point in the NBA where we can pretty much instantaneously see from a variety of angles whether a call — and particularly a foul — was a good one or not. Let’s say D’Antoni were able to challenge the Melo call. The three refs would confer on the sidelines, and basically vote on whether the call should stand, with a majority of 2 carrying the day.

    The only issue with this, obviously, is that you couldn’t challenge no-calls like KG’s blatant trip. But it would at least preclude some of the ticky-tack stuff we see late in games that just ruins the flow and leaves bitter tastes in many a mouth. Again, just an idea. It doesn’t fix the problems with no-calls that should be calls, but I for one would much rather let more stuff go and be able to rescind the ticky tack stuff.

  8. Z-man

    Jim Cavan:
    I’ve been thinking a lot about the inherent problems and issues with NBA refereeing. I’ve tossed around a few hair-brained ideas, including letting teams call their own fouls for the first 10 of each half, but what about having an NFL-like challenge system? What if we were to give coaches, say, 2 challenges per half (not to be carried over)?

    Technology has gotten to a point in the NBA where we can pretty much instantaneously see from a variety of angles whether a call — and particularly afoul — was agood one or not. Let’s say D’Antoni were able to challenge the Melo call. The three refs would confer on the sidelines, and basically vote on whether the call should stand, with a majority of 2 carrying the day.

    The only issue with this, obviously, is that you couldn’t challenge no-calls like KG’s blatant trip. But it would at least preclude some of the ticky-tack stuff we see late in games that just ruins the flow and leaves bitter tastes in many a mouth.

    Hard to take your ideas that seriously since they have no chance of ever being incorporated, but I’ll try. The foul call is always going to involve some subjectivity, kind of like pass interference in football. There is no definitive “yes, it’s a foul, no, it’s not” boundary. The Melo call is a perfect example, it is totally based on the referee’s interpretation. Obviously there are many blatant calls that are missed or made that replay would help address, but there are far too many “contact” plays that are totally subject to the ref’s discretion, probably several on each possession.

    That offensive goaltending non-call vs. Perkins, however, is one that I think should be subject to replay. Any time there are clear, indisputable lines and boundaries, replay is good. If it there is subjectivity and interpretation involved, it is not likely to work as well.

  9. Doug

    Jim:

    I’d be all for coaches challenges. Put an official in the booth to watch replays as well.

  10. Jim Cavan

    @12

    The Perkins thing was ridiculous. Anything in the last two minutes the least bit questionable needs to be subject to review.

    I agree that you’re never going to have the perfect refs, but certainly we can do better than what we’ve been seeing the last two or three years. Simmons wrote a pretty good piece about it back in ’09: http://es.pn/fHzG2

    I’m not sure pass interference is the best example. To me, that should be a far easier call to make, as you’re dealing with two isolated players on a much larger field where you can actually focus on the two players at hand. Not like the NBA where there’s just a swarm of congested bodies that can muddy up the “picture”.

    Again, the idea of a challenge wouldn’t eliminate all the bad calls. But it would at least give team’s a redress late in games where those bad calls matter more. You’re right though, probably not worth discussing as nothing remotely resembling this will ever happen.

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