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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NYT: In the N.B.A., There Is a Message in Point Differentials

“A win is just a win?” Au contraire mon frere, as my newest at the NY Times postulates:

NBA Blowout wins, in a pretty chart.

What the heck does this chart mean? You’ll have to read my blog at the Times!

16 comments on “NYT: In the N.B.A., There Is a Message in Point Differentials

  1. jon abbey

    this is a bad season for this kind of chart, as Portland and Philly have both been wildly overrated all year due to piling up a big point differential early on, and both have been terrible lately. the Lakers one is interesting, though.

  2. Caleb

    The Knicks have a better point differential than the Lakers, even though the Knicks have dealt with a lot of injuries and clearly haven’t fired on all cylinders, whereas the Lakers have enjoyed amazing health all year.

    True, this year is a little off… I think the lack of preseason and crazy schedule skewed things a bit, at least early. I think Dallas also had a couple of 30-point losses in the first week. Although, that might not be a complete fluke.

  3. Caleb

    To finish that thought, if the Knicks had a full roster now I would call them a serious sleeper team. Sans Lin and maybe sans Stoudemire, hard to make that case.

    The Lakers… on the plus side, the shorter playoff rotation and longer superstar minutes will help them.. but I think they’re more in the scrum, than a serious contender.

  4. ruruland

    Caleb:
    To finish that thought, if the Knicks had a full roster now I would call them a serious sleeper team. Sans Lin and maybe sans Stoudemire, hard to make that case.

    The Lakers… on the plus side, the shorter playoff rotation and longer superstar minutes will help them.. but I think they’re more in the scrum, than a serious contender.

    Artest is playing like the old Artest. The Lakers played 65 % of the season with a point guard situation just a bit better than the Knicks. Kobe has played out of control this year. If he can pick his spots more, seeing as Gasol and Bynum dominate most nights, I like the Lakers to go the Finals.

    I like inside-out teams in the playoffs a lot more than wild, transition and semi-transition, incoherent offensive teams like OKC. yes, they have the 3 best offensive players in the West, but I think they’ll struggle some when the game slows down and they aren’t getting so many of their cheap fouls and baskets.

    They have the sixth highest pace in the league with the most efficient offense. If you push OKC’s offense out, slow the game down and limit turnovers by going inside, I think OKC’s offense really slows down. You saw it last night.

  5. Jafa

    Ruruland,

    Dallas won it all last year without true post play. They played great defense, had Chandler to man the rim, and Dirk and the Jet carried them on offense (both working from the perimeter or elbow).

    Oh, and Dallas swept the Lakers who had 2 premier post players.

    I think OKC can get it done. The have true post defenders, shot blockers and athletes to ignite their transition game. As as you stated, they have the most efficient offense in the NBA, incoherent or not.

  6. TelegraphedPass

    @4 Also, and I hate to say it, but few players get benefit of the doubt calls the way Durant does. I think it’s partly due to his slight build, but if a defender so much as exhales on Durant in the lane he gets the call.

    I’m not sure about this hypothesis, but I think refs may let games get more physical in the playoffs. They don’t want the rabid fans to feel like the refs are significantly influencing the outcome. It seems to me like playoff games become much more physical.

  7. ruruland

    Jafa:
    Ruruland,

    Dallas won it all last year without true post play.They played great defense, had Chandler to man the rim, and Dirk and the Jet carried them on offense (both working from the perimeter or elbow).

    Oh, and Dallas swept the Lakers who had 2 premier post players.

    I think OKC can get it done.The have true post defenders, shot blockers and athletes to ignite their transition game.As as you stated, they have the most efficient offense in the NBA, incoherent or not.

    OKC can get it done. Obviously they are the conventional choice.

    Dallas run last year was pure magic. They didn’t exactly dominate Portland.
    They were getting dominated by LA in game one of that series before that amazing come-back. Remember, Dallas was down big in games 1, 2 and 3 of that series before LA self-imploded in game 4.

    Dallas had incredible comebacks in the West Finals and NBA Finals. They played their best, shot-making was amazing.

    Obviously, any team that wins a championship has to play great. But I don’t think they’d be able to repeat what they did even had they kept CHandler and added another piece.

    I don’t believe in flukes, but they really had to get everything to go right in pretty much every tight fourth quarter they played.

    I like LA’s chances if they slow the game down. Artest gave Durant a lot of problems when they meet two years ago. I think Kobe can slow down Harden. And it’s so important to have a guy who can run back at Westbrook as he spends half his defensive possessions on the floor at the offensive end.

  8. ruruland

    TelegraphedPass:
    @4 Also, and I hate to say it, but few players get benefit of the doubt calls the way Durant does. I think it’s partly due to his slight build, but if a defender so much as exhales on Durant in the lane he gets the call.

    I’m not sure about this hypothesis, but I think refs may let games get more physical in the playoffs. They don’t want the rabid fans to feel like the refs are significantly influencing the outcome. It seems to me like playoff games become much more physical.

    Durant gets a stupid whistle I agree. Best whistle in the NBA. He may not shoot the most free throws per 36, but when you compare him to guys who consistently drive or play in the post it’s not close.

    It’s like Wade was a few years back — at least he was playing to the rim. Every time he drove it was automatic. Cost Dallas a championship. If Durant gets that kind of whistle you might as well wrap it up now for the Finals.

    And Harden is a master of the Chauncey Billups drive and swipe-through play. That’s where he gets all of his calls. Really amazing.

    I’ve noticed that some defenders are catching on though. Same with officials.Really simple games like Harden’s have a tendency to get exposed in the playoffs. He’ll still hit 3s and drive some, but I think teams will take away a lot of those cheap fouls.

  9. johnlocke

    They also had a forward, who plays like a guard that was as efficient as a post-up player in Dirk Nowitzki. There are VERY few wing players, if any, (I know Dirk is a PF, but he plays like a wing player)…that shoot the mid-range jumper as efficiently as Dirk and then shoot what he shoots from the line, when he gets fouled — and then he ramped all that up during the playoffs. Point being, I wouldn’t use Dirk/Dallas winning the championship as a rule that you don’t need strong post play to win…I know,I know… Michael Jordan…he was the best player of all time.

    Jafa:
    Ruruland,

    Dallas won it all last year without true post play.They played great defense, had Chandler to man the rim, and Dirk and the Jet carried them on offense (both working from the perimeter or elbow).

    Oh, and Dallas swept the Lakers who had 2 premier post players.

    I think OKC can get it done.The have true post defenders, shot blockers and athletes to ignite their transition game.As as you stated, they have the most efficient offense in the NBA, incoherent or not.

  10. Will the Thrill

    I really had a hard time rooting for Billups because his offense is mostly based on shooting threes (contested or not) and drawing cheap (and I mean extremely cheap) fouls. The plays where he would run on the fast break and stop out of nowhere and shoot a deep 3 and lean back so the defender would graze his back when he shot it. We saw some shots where these dubious fouls weren’t called, and they were quite embarrassing to watch.

    ruruland: And Harden is a master of the Chauncey Billups drive and swipe-through play. That’s where he gets all of his calls. Really amazing

  11. ruruland

    Will the Thrill:
    I really had a hard time rooting for Billups because his offense is mostly based on shooting threes (contested or not) and drawing cheap (and I mean extremely cheap) fouls.The plays where he would run on the fast break and stop out of nowhere and shoot a deep 3 and lean back so the defender would graze his back when he shot it.We saw some shots where these dubious fouls weren’t called, and they were quite embarrassing to watch.

    It’s really amazing how Chauncey carved a brilliant career out of those kinds of plays. His offensive game is/was ugly. He drove through your shoulder and created contact. The thing about Chauncey though is that despite all of his limitations he really could orchestrate an offense. You have to respect CHauncey because it took him half-a-decade to figure out how to play like that. He had such command of the teams he played on and truly was as good of a leader as there’s been in the last decade. I’d put him up there with KG; they just have two different styles.

    It’s a bummer we couldn’t see what a Chauncey/Melo/Amar’e team could do to that Boston team last year.

  12. daJudge

    Mike, thank you for the article. I know this is a stat’s oriented site, but unfortunately that is not my forte. I have a real struggle following a lot of the stuff. Nevertheless, I have always looked carefully at point differential. It is something I readily understand and it always made sense to me as an indicator of success. Of course, since I’m not a stat guy, that might not be the strongest endorsement. Great reading all the stuff in the Times by you guys—don’t love the paper politically, but I read it every day. The fact that you guy’s publish there is very impressive indeed and I give the paper credit as well for recognizing talent and insight.

  13. daJudge

    It’s interesting how Chuncey’s rep re: toughness changed during his career. I would love to have a combo wonderlic /MMPI test for basketball players before they are drafted.

  14. Bruno Almeida

    well, I don’t agree at all that Harden’s game is “simple”.

    he’s effective on pretty much every part of the ofensive game… he can spot up, he can drive, run the pick and roll, shoot off the dribble, isolate, and yes, draw fouls.

    he doesn’t have a huge array of offensive moves yet, but the guy is 22, for god’s sake.

    OKC gets a lot of free throws, but they keep driving it to the basket non-stop… how can you get fouled when you’re shooting 18-footers?

    and by the way, both Durant and Westbrook are shooting less free throws this year than last year, now that they’re considered legit championship contenders by everyone and should be getting the so-called star treatment much more.

    I think this makes a big difference only on bizarre cases, like Wade against Dallas.

  15. Juany8

    I think the Lakers might be the best team in the league now that they have Ramon Sessions. Bynum isn’t a very good matchup for Perkins, and no one except the Grizzlies, Thunder, and Knicks really has the size to match up with them. If Artest can keep giving them solid contributions on offense the Lakers are a legit threat to win it all.

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