Last night I was unable to watch Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Although the best way to analyze a game is to watch it and then compare the visual with the statistical results, sometimes that isn’t possible. For instance nobody watches all 1,312 regular season games, so everyone tends to rely on statistics to fill in the blanks. Of course it’s important to know which stats to use to best understand the action. When looking at the team level, there’s nothing better than the four factors. So I decided to calculate them for last night’s game.
TEAM | PTS | POSS | OE | eFG | TO | OREB | FT DEN | 106 | 94.9 | 111.7 | 48.7 | 14.8 | 27.5 | 36.7 LAL | 103 | 95.5 | 107.8 | 49.4 | 16.7 | 25.5 | 35.1
I don’t know the exact number, but I recall crunching the numbers over the course of the season and found that in a majority (around 90%) of NBA games, the team that has the advantage in eFG ends up winning. So it was a bit surprising that the Lakers lost despite the shooting edge. This is likely due to Denver shooting almost as well (less than 1% difference) and winning all the other categories. The Nuggets turned the ball over slightly less, hit the boards better, and did slightly better from the free throw line.
Looking at the play-by-play illustrates how this minor advantage gave the Nuggets the win. With 5 minutes to go the score was tied at 95, but down the stretch Denver won in offensive rebounds (1 vs. 0) and free throws (7-8 vs. 3-6) while staying even in turnovers (2 vs. 2). While some games are won with the dramatic shot, sometimes it’s the little things that propels a team to victory.