Last night the NBA had one whole playoff game going on, but it was the marquee matchup of the second round. The Lakers and Spurs went at it again. In case you were out busy celebrating, you can find out easily who won the game, by looking at the score. But how they won is a different story. What statistics are the most important in relation to winning?
An article by Dean Oliver titled “The Four Factors of Basketball Success” discusses exactly this. In it he outlines the four most important team stats that lead to victory. They are (with weight in parenthesis):
1. Shooting % (10)
2. Turnovers (6)
3. Offensive rebounding (5)
4. Getting to the line (3)
So how did the two teams compare yesterday?
1. Shooting percentage (eFG%)
Both teams shot exceptionally well, although the Spurs had a slight advantage here. Watching the game I can tell you this was caused by a lot of layups from fast breaks for the Spurs & dunks by Shaq.
2. Turnovers (TO)
So far everything seems to be in the Spurs favor. To me these first two stats says something about the Lakers defense, or rather lack of. Not only did the Spurs shot at a high percentage (see above), but they only had 8 turnovers. It doesn’t seem that the Lakers did anything to stop them from scoring.
3. Offensive Rebounds (OReb% = oReb/attempts, where attempts = opp dReb + oReb – opp oReb)
Well here is one place the Lakers dominated. Most of the credit goes to Shaq who was nearly unstoppable at times. Not only did he have 6 of the Lakers’ 12 offensive rebounds, but he shot 15/21 (71%)!
4. Getting to the free throw line (FTA)
LAL: 18 (39%)
SAS: 30 (60%)
The Spurs dominated here as well. They had almost twice as many chances from the charity stripe, and they also converted at twice the rate. Duncan himself hit 10 (of 14), which is more than the Laker’s entire team (7 FTM).
Easily it was a contest dominated by the Spurs. Right now it doesn’t appear that the Lakers added the right players. Malone and Payton are great players, but when they’re not the focal point of the offense their contribution to their team is diminished. Why would you need Gary Payton, when your offense is primarily lobbing the ball into Shaq, or letting Kobe loose. They would be better served with a few guys that can’t create offense, but instead can do things like shut down their opponent, rebound, or hit their shots at a high percentage.