Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

State of the First Round

Let’s take a look at how the first round is shaping up after Saturday’s games!

EAST

Cleveland/Detroit
(Cleveland up 3-0)

Whatever.

Do you give the Pistions a 10% of winning even a game in this series?

Boston/Chicago
(Boston up 2-1)

Do you think that the Cavs intentionally tried to lose against Philly, with the goal in mind of having Chicago play the Celtics in round one? Coming into the playoffs, the Bulls were as hot as any team (other than the Cavs), so I could see it as a possibility (not a good one, but a possibility!).

Orlando/Philadelphia
(Philadelphia up 2-1)

Orlando has outscored Philadelphia by five points this series, but trail two games to one. I’d think that over the course of the series, Orlando will likely have a bit of a correction, so I think they still are in good shape.

Atlanta/Miami
(Miami up 2-1)

Can you think of a less imposing #4 seed than the Atlanta Hawks? They wouldn’t make the Western Conference Top Eight teams with their record!

In their win Joe Johnson didn’t shoot 50% from the field. Overall, he’s shooting about 36% from the field. You gotta step it up, Joe!

WEST

Los Angeles/Utah
(Los Angeles up 3-1)

Poor Utah, they win 48 games and get to play the Lakers in the first round. Who’s the best non-starter in the NBA? Lamar Odom has to be high on that list, no?

Denver/New Orleans
(Denver up 2-1)

Chris Paul practically willed New Orleans to the win in Game 3, but boy, they certainly look undermanned a lot during this series. And I sorta admire how George Karl is taking the game physical. If the refs aren’t going to call it, then you might as well use it.

San Antonio/Dallas
(Dallas up 3-1)

What an interesting series in the sense that it is almost like getting ready for Lakers/Jazz while figuring that the Jazz have no chance at winning and right before Game 1 hearing that Pau Gasol is out for the season. Suddenly an easy win for the Lakers turns into advantage for the Jazz.

That’s what happened here, obviously, with Manu’s injury, and now the Mavericks are shockingly not only likely to be playing in the second round, but they don’t even have to play the Lakers! It’s amazing how the fortunes have changed for both conferences just in the last few days of the season (as Dallas climbed all the way to #6 in the West).

I wouldn’t say that either Denver or New Orleans should feel all that confident playing Dallas in the second round.

Portland/Houston
(Houston up 2-1)

I’ll admit, I thought Portland getting home court was going to be a huge factor, but I guess I was wrong, as they didn’t seem to get any benefit out of playing at home. The defensive show that Ron Artest and Shane Battier put on in Game 3 was nothing short of inspired.

50 comments on “State of the First Round

  1. jon abbey

    “Who’s the best non-starter in the NBA? Lamar Odom has to be high on that list, no?”

    Odom started and played 41 minutes yesterday.

  2. Brian Cronin

    Right, that’s what made me think of it. Because they took him off of the bench to start him last night. That’s likely not going to be a permanent thing, though, right? If it does become permanent, then you can pick a different guy to be the top bench player!

  3. Brian Cronin

    Hinrich doesn’t get a foul call but then Brad Miller absolutely clocks Big Baby Davis, and I think, “Really? Is that just allowed?”

  4. Brian Cronin

    Pierce makes one of two and the Bulls now have it with about 16 second left down two. Earlier, Scalabrine did an insanely bad job fouling Hinrich on a clear path foul with a two point lead.

  5. jon abbey

    the box score says Marbury was -17 in 5 minutes, is that really possible? I only came home in time to see the two OTs, so I don’t know, but quite impressive if true. :)

  6. jon abbey

    haha, just went through the play by play, Chicago outscored Boston 19-2 with Marbury on the floor. LOVING THAT!

  7. Owen

    “haha, just went through the play by play, Chicago outscored Boston 19-2 with Marbury on the floor. LOVING THAT!”

    That is seriously awesome….

  8. Owen

    Anyone catch the Celebrity Apprentice? Apparently DLee had a starring role, as the new pitchman for Right Guard…

    Amazing stuff here, great game between Houston and Portland, which thankfully they are televising…

    Four thoughts I had watching the game…

    Every time I think about signing Nate Robinson to a nice little long term contract, I think of the Rockets running Wafer, Brooks, and Lowry out there in the playoffs. The Rockets seem to be ok with running a bunch of cheap young guards out there in the playoffs.

    The Rockets also have definitely mastered the role player. They seem to have fully internalized one of the major points of advanced statistics, which is that there is a lot of value in non scoring players. Amazing to see them shuffling Hayes, Scola, Battier, Lowry and Landry in there. They got a lot of production from those guys

    Every time I watch LaMarcus Aldridge play I am again puzzled by the cult of the jumpshooting power forward. Apparently he is doing something right, his adjusted +/- is pretty high, but to me he looks like a player who takes way too many long range jumpshots. Why have Aldridge taking 18 footers when you have Rudy out there?

    Finally, Brandon Roy is really good. He has been all year, but it’s especially clear looking at him taking apart the vaunted Rockets defense. It’s going to be interesting to see how much longer Bryant is considered the best shooting guard in the Western Conference. I honestly don’t know how much better Bryant is right now that Roy. Better, but it’s very close, especially when you pace adjust their statistics.

  9. Z

    Owen– totally agree about Roy. With all the focus on LeBron, Wade, Bosh, etc… in 2010, the guy I’d love to steal away is Roy. He’s a restricted free agent that summer, and I figure he’ll be extended before he reaches that point anyway, but we can dream…

  10. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, the Rockets definitely did their best to make that game as close as it could be in the final seconds, missing 3 out of 4 free throws!

    That is a really great series, though.

  11. Ray

    Ben Gordon is sooooooo clutch. This performance is going to bring him some dollar bills this summer. Still, another year without the Knicks in the playoff is disappointing. One day we will return.

  12. jon abbey

    no way Gordon gets a deal as big as the one he turned down from Chicago a year or two ago, $58 million.

  13. d-mar

    Anyone catch the Celebrity Apprentice? Apparently DLee had a starring role, as the new pitchman for Right Guard…
    Amazing stuff here, great game between Houston and Portland, which thankfully they are televising…
    Four thoughts I had watching the game…
    Every time I think about signing Nate Robinson to a nice little long term contract, I think of the Rockets running Wafer, Brooks, and Lowry out there in the playoffs. The Rockets seem to be ok with running a bunch of cheap young guards out there in the playoffs.
    The Rockets also have definitely mastered the role player. They seem to have fully internalized one of the major points of advanced statistics, which is that there is a lot of value in non scoring players. Amazing to see them shuffling Hayes, Scola, Battier, Lowry and Landry in there. They got a lot of production from those guys
    Every time I watch LaMarcus Aldridge play I am again puzzled by the cult of the jumpshooting power forward. Apparently he is doing something right, his adjusted +/- is pretty high, but to me he looks like a player who takes way too many long range jumpshots. Why have Aldridge taking 18 footers when you have Rudy out there?
    Finally, Brandon Roy is really good. He has been all year, but it’s especially clear looking at him taking apart the vaunted Rockets defense. It’s going to be interesting to see how much longer Bryant is considered the best shooting guard in the Western Conference. I honestly don’t know how much better Bryant is right now that Roy. Better, but it’s very close, especially when you pace adjust their statistics.

    I think Houston has the deepest team in the NBA, they just keep trotting out one solid role player after another. And Adelman never gets his due as a coach that puts all the pieces together. Has anyone even mentioned T-mac?

    I love Roy and would take him on my team in a heartbeat, but comparing him to Kobe is a huge stretch. Kobe’s ability to get his shot off at will sets him apart from almost every other player, and he demands help defense more than any player as well.

    Love playoff basketball, watching the crowds be so into every posession makes me yearn for some post-season action at MSG.

  14. Dan Panorama

    It’s going to be interesting to see how much longer Bryant is considered the best shooting guard in the Western Conference. I honestly don’t know how much better Bryant is right now that Roy. Better, but it’s very close, especially when you pace adjust their statistics.

    Uh, have you been watching Kobe in the playoffs this year? That game 4 performance was just ridiculous.

  15. ess-dog

    This has nothing to do with playoffs, but look:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/headToHeadResults?statsId1=3956&statsId2=3828&statsId3=3524&

    Biedrins and Troy Murphy each make roughly 10-11 mil a season. Considering the economy, you could say that Lee will be worth 9-10 mil.
    Although thses are starters who statistically relate to Lee, it could be said that they are the worst full-time starters at the C-PF position. Warrick in Memphis is definitely worse, but I can’t think of many others… is Lee really worth it?

  16. ess-dog

    This has nothing to do with playoffs, but look:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/headToHeadResults?statsId1=3956&statsId2=3828&statsId3=3524&

    Biedrins and Troy Murphy each make roughly 10-11 mil a season. Considering the economy, you could say that Lee will be worth 9-10 mil.
    Although thses are starters who statistically relate to Lee, it could be said that they are the worst full-time starters at the C-PF position. Warrick in Memphis is definitely worse, but I can’t think of many others… is Lee really worth it?

  17. Owen

    “it could be said that they are the worst full-time starters at the C-PF position. ”

    Really? You think Andris Biedrins and Murphy are amongst the worst starting centers and power forwards in the league? Murphy was a top 5 rebounder who also shot 45% from the three point line. Biedrins is pretty effing good. Perennially one of the leaders in rebounding and fg% and under 25 I think.

    I can name a ton of center and power forwards who are worse than them in the league.

    Lee is worth 9-10 million, but there is a lot less surplus value than we were getting on his rookie contract….

  18. Ray

    I think Biedrins has a nice game for teams that need his skill set. I think Golden State needs a low post threat though. They just want to run all day and I don’t believe they’ll ever win a championship. They have some pretty good players but Nelson has to go. Anyway, Id rather save the money that would be use to sign Nat and Lee to some free agents or second tier free agents. We need some leadership and some guys with work ethic and character. I keep thinking to myself why has Eddy taken it upon himself and hired a personal trainer to whip him into shape. It would be amazing if this guy came to camp in the best shape of his life just like D Wade did. He would certainly get minutes and up his value so we could trade him. He has no work ethic. Its disgusting. We sign these guys to contract and we dont make sure that they take care of themselves.

  19. ess-dog

    “it could be said that they are the worst full-time starters at the C-PF position. ”
    Really? You think Andris Biedrins and Murphy are amongst the worst starting centers and power forwards in the league? Murphy was a top 5 rebounder who also shot 45% from the three point line. Biedrins is pretty effing good. Perennially one of the leaders in rebounding and fg% and under 25 I think.
    I can name a ton of center and power forwards who are worse than them in the league.
    Lee is worth 9-10 million, but there is a lot less surplus value than we were getting on his rookie contract….

    Man, poor Brad Miller.
    I think considering they are not players sharing minutes in the way Tyrus Thomas is for instance, those 3 are probably the worst among full time starters at their positions.
    Biedrins and Lee are both “good” players, but their stats are severely helped by the high pace of their respective teams. Look at starters like Nowitski, Boozer, Aldridge, KG, Wallace, Gasol, Duncan… some starters like Lewis, Stoudamire and Marvin Williams are not prototypical PF’s so it could be argued how good they are as compared to Lee. But you also have to figure in the records of the respective teams. Again if you’re talking about Lee as the “glue” guy, a 5th, maybe 4th best starter, then fine. I don’t know if there are 10 worse full minutes PF’s in the league right now (Lee’s true position.)
    Sure, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. Maybe Lee at 10 mil is more valuable than Rashard Lewis at 16 mil, but is he better than Marvin Williams at 7 mil? or an expiring contract and a rookie 1st round contract (Blair?) or even someone like Brandan Bass given the same minutes?
    That being said, I’d like to keep him. I think offering him 8 mil is sort of realisitc considering the economy. If we can do that and pair Nate with Jeffries and lose those contracts, we should be in pretty good shape. It’s better to lose a “good” player that will be overpaid and patch the hole with a cheap player until you can get a “great” player at that position.

  20. Owen

    “Sure, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. Maybe Lee at 10 mil is more valuable than Rashard Lewis at 16 mil, but is he better than Marvin Williams at 7 mil?”

    Yes and yes.

    Ess-Dog I am the guy who didn’t want to trade Lee for Kobe, that’s my response.

    So, anyone think Rajon Rondo can’t score? Interesting how those low usage guys can pick up the slack.

  21. ess-dog

    “Sure, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. Maybe Lee at 10 mil is more valuable than Rashard Lewis at 16 mil, but is he better than Marvin Williams at 7 mil?”
    Yes and yes.
    Ess-Dog I am the guy who didn’t want to trade Lee for Kobe, that’s my response.
    So, anyone think Rajon Rondo can’t score? Interesting how those low usage guys can pick up the slack.

    How is Rondo “low usage?” He seems pretty used to me. Just a starter who stepped up at the end of a game instead of being more like… well… every Knick player.
    Does anyone that that foul on Miller was a crime? I mean, he was punched in the face, bled and stitched up… granted, he still probably would’ve airballed the layup, but c’mon… this isn’t football.

  22. Z-man
    “Sure, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. Maybe Lee at 10 mil is more valuable than Rashard Lewis at 16 mil, but is he better than Marvin Williams at 7 mil?”
    Yes and yes.
    Ess-Dog I am the guy who didn’t want to trade Lee for Kobe, that’s my response.
    So, anyone think Rajon Rondo can’t score? Interesting how those low usage guys can pick up the slack.

    How is Rondo “low usage?” He seems pretty used to me. Just a starter who stepped up at the end of a game instead of being more like… well… every Knick player.
    Does anyone that that foul on Miller was a crime? I mean, he was punched in the face, bled and stitched up… granted, he still probably would’ve airballed the layup, but c’mon… this isn’t football.

    Couple of things:

    Hard to believe that anyone would mention Kobe in the same sentence as Lee, or Brandon Roy for that matter (earlier post.) Kobe is arguably in the top 10 players of all time and is still in his prime. I dislike the guy and would find him hard to root for if he were a Knick, but he is the 2nd best all-around player in the league and singlehandedly would make just abut any current lottery team a playoff contender. Honestly, is his supporting cast really that great, especially with a subpar Bynum?

    Pierce is a rare breed in that the basket gets bigger for him in crunch time in big game after big game. Last night reminded me of last year’s game 7 performance vs. LeBron; you could just ring it up even though everyone in the building knew what was coming.

    I thought Noah was very impressive last night, he is a hell of an athlete for his size. I can see him getting better and better. That being said, how about Kendrick Perkins?

  23. d-mar

    Also thought the Rondo foul should have been a flagrant. Hard to justify calling that good D.

    As one of the ESPN guys pointed out, if it was reversed and Miller smacked Rondo in the face, what are the chances it’s not a flagrant?

    Re:Pierce – I fault DelNegro a little, you have to double and take the ball out of his hands and make one of the other 4 guys (without Ray Allen) beat you.

  24. Owen

    “Kobe is arguably in the top 10 players of all time and is still in his prime. I dislike the guy and would find him hard to root for if he were a Knick, but he is the 2nd best all-around player in the league and singlehandedly would make just abut any current lottery team a playoff contender. Honestly, is his supporting cast really that great, especially with a subpar Bynum?”

    Yes, his supporting cast really is that great. Gasol, Odom, Bynum, Ariza, and Fisher (way behind those other four) is by far the best supporting cast in the NBA. You could in fact easily make the argument that Kobe wasn’t the most productive player on his own team this year, something which has been generally true of his career. Gasol had the highest offensive rating in the NBA and had more offensive win shares than Kobe.

    The idea that Kobe is one of the top ten players of all time is laughable at best. Kobe right now is a full level below the elite talents in this league (Lebron, Howard, Paul) and wasn’t even the best player at his position this year (Wade).

    Why exactly Kobe was so much better than Roy this year is really highly unclear. After all, who was the centerpiece of the best offense in basketball?

  25. Nick C.

    I don’t see Kobe cracking second tesm all-time just at guard (Oscar, West, Magic, Michael) add in the customary #1s at C – Wilt, Russell and Kareem or even Shaq, PF Mailman or Pettit, SF – Bird or Baylor maybe even Dr. J if you consider ABA and we’ve got around a dozen I would think at least reputationwise he’s still behind.

  26. Z

    Owen– your anti-Kobe sentiment rivals my own Zach Randolph irrational detestation, which I totally respect. But, I don’t think you’re going to win many statistical converts by claiming that Kobe being considered an all-time great is “laughable at best”. What is it at worst? Dangerous? Apocalyptic?

    Seriously, though– I think we may have gone through this a few summers ago when discussing whether stats that said David Lee was better than Kobe Bryant passed the “laugh test” (a thread in which you famously said you wouldn’t trade Lee for Bryant straight up if you were GM of the Knicks I think), but a lot of what this site does is help people see the benefits of statistical analysis. It has helped me a lot. But then I read some of your anti-Kobe posts and a lot of the eye-opening I’ve done turns to rapid-eye-closing.

    Gasol may be the “most productive” member of the Lakers, but doesn’t it make a difference, both to Gasol’s performance AND to the interpretation of Kobe’s stats, that every single coach of every single team devises their game-plan against the Lakers specifically to minimize the effect Kobe has and to let the other guys beat them. Jordan got that treatment. Shaq got that treatment. If coaches devised their strategy against the Lakers to not let Andrew Bynum beat them, wouldn’t Bryant’s productivity likely improve.

    You don’t hear coach Sloan shout “double Ariza!” from the sideline.

    Popovich never put Bruce Bowen on Derek Fisher in the 4th quarter.

    It seems laughable, at best, to compare the stats of Bryant to the other Laker players without regarding the insane amount of pressure that other teams put on him to perform at the productivity that he does. Gasol is a tremendous player in his own right, but not even Pau, his mother, or his agent would argue that Gasol was better than Bryant.

    Substituting “most productive” for the word “best” objectifies the conversation, but it doesn’t do justice to the “greatness” of some basketball players. (And arguing that Kobe isn’t an all-time great because he was worse than Dwayne Wade in 2009 isn’t a great argument, anyway. You can do better than that!!) :)

  27. Z

    As for Roy, I do totally agree with you on him. With all the talk of LeBron, Wade, Bosh, etc… in 2010, Roy is an restricted FA that summer. I would LOVE to poach him from the Blazers (even more than everybody not named LeBron on that list). I assume that the Blazers would match any and all offers (and will probably extend him before it ever comes to that), but Roy is definitely going to be a top-level impact player for the next decade and seems like a very safe bet as someone worth throwing gobs of money at.

    And jon abbey– I thought of you at the end of the Bulls-Celtics game 5 the other night. As this site’s resident NBA Ref Hater, Celtic Hater, and Brad Miller Hater, I was wondering where you’d stand on the Rondo non-flagrant foul call that decided the game. Not sure how to interpret your silence. Conflicted? Apathetic? (or do you simply have better things to do than think about it…)

  28. jon abbey

    “jon abbey– I thought of you at the end of the Bulls-Celtics game 5 the other night. As this site’s resident NBA Ref Hater, Celtic Hater, and Brad Miller Hater, I was wondering where you’d stand on the Rondo non-flagrant foul call that decided the game. Not sure how to interpret your silence. Conflicted? Apathetic? (or do you simply have better things to do than think about it…)”

    heh…

    I thought it should have been a flagrant foul, but he shouldn’t have been suspended.

    and as much of a Celtic hater as I am (more of a general Boston hater than the Celtics specifically, for the record), it’s hard to root against Rondo, one of the handful of most exciting players in the league right now.

    in general, I’m pretty bored by the playoffs right now (although I am digging Denver, and San Antonio going out early is a beautiful thing). it’s crystal clear that it’s going to be Cleveland and LA at the end, and it has been since Garnett went out, so wake me up when they finally get there.

  29. Z

    And speaking of Roy being better than Kobe:

    Advanced statistician Ron Artest chimed in with his opinion, claiming that Brandon Roy is better than Kobe and LeBron (and second only to some guy named Mike Chafway, currently doing time). I’m not sure if Ron is looking at TS%, pts/36, PER, or WoW. All I know is I hope Chafway is paroled in time for the summer of 2010!

  30. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    in general, I’m pretty bored by the playoffs right now (although I am digging Denver, and San Antonio going out early is a beautiful thing). it’s crystal clear that it’s going to be Cleveland and LA at the end, and it has been since Garnett went out, so wake me up when they finally get there.

    It’s funny because with a newborn and a 2 year old, I haven’t been able to watch much. I keep catching the Celtics/Bulls (maybe because they’re playing about 50% more basketball than the other teams), and it’s been great. So at least from my watching experience they’ve been great (although looking at the boxscores of the other series show them to be snoozers).

    BTW from anyone that has watched, whats the deal with the Magic? I thought they would cruise until Cleveland. What gives?

  31. BK

    BTW from anyone that has watched, whats the deal with the Magic? I thought they would cruise until Cleveland. What gives?

    Magic didn’t shoot very well and the Sixers did a good job of containing Turkoglu and Lewis until the last couple of games. Plus the Sixers shot way beyond what they normally do from the 3 point line, before they regressed back to their normal ways.

    In general, the Sixers had the right strategy — let Howard get his points against one man with token help, and focus on stopping the other players. You could really see the Magic struggle the first few games with ball movement and stagnant offense generally. Plus the Sixers are very quick on defense, so they did an excellent job of rotating to the outside shooters even when the Magic moved the ball well.

    Interesting that with Howard suspended in Game 6, the Magic probably had their best game of the series to clinch it.

  32. d-mar

    I think that was a huge game for the Magic to win, and they did it convincingly. It gave guys like Gortat meaningful minutes and playoff experience, Redick gained confidence with 5-5 from downtown, and they get a lot of rest while watching the Bulls and Celtics slug it out. I’m still not sure they can beat the Celts (I’m assuming they find a way to win tomorrow) but probably gives them a good chance to steal a game 1 in Beantown and make it a series.

    BTW, I predict we will see KG if they make it to the next round. That Doc Rivers stuff about being gone for the playoffs was BS.

  33. Z-man

    Yes, his supporting cast really is that great. Gasol, Odom, Bynum, Ariza, and Fisher (way behind those other four) is by far the best supporting cast in the NBA. You could in fact easily make the argument that Kobe wasn’t the most productive player on his own team this year, something which has been generally true of his career. Gasol had the highest offensive rating in the NBA and had more offensive win shares than Kobe.

    You could make this argument, but would never win it. Gasol is a solid all-star caliber player, not an all-time great. Kobe is, whether top 10, 20, 30, or 50, an all-time great, period (BTW, he is already 18th on the all time list of win shares). And he is only 30.

    “The idea that Kobe is one of the top ten players of all time is laughable at best. Kobe right now is a full level below the elite talents in this league (Lebron, Howard, Paul) and wasn’t even the best player at his position this year (Wade).”

    Kobe has put up MVP caliber numbers year in and year out for a long time and is a perennial first-team all-NBA defender. His numbers this year are pretty much what they were in his MVP year and have been every year. His team had the second best record in the league. When all is said and done, he may be in the top 5 on the all-time scoring list and in all-NBA first team defensive awards. His teams have been in the playoffs virtually ever year, including 2005-06 with as pitiful of a supporting cast as you can have, in a conference loaded with good teams. I understand not ranking him in the top 10 of all time, but it is not nearly as laughable as suggesting that Kobe and Lee are even remotely comparable, dollar for dollar or otherwise.

  34. TDM

    Denver is completely dismantling Dallas right now. The Birdman’s D is amazing. He has to be one of the best values in the league. What other player getting paid less than $1M per gives as much production to his team?

  35. Owen

    Loving Kobe’s performance, 14-31 and a Lakers loss, it’s good to be a hater on a night like this. Traditionally though he goes 16-24 in the next game after I hate…

    It’s a pointless argument about Kobe, one which I have had many times. I will say, it does seem possible right now that this may turn out to be the playoff season where people begin to re-evaluate Kobe a bit, with the conventional view moving a bit towards my stance…

  36. BK

    For what it’s worth, I’m in the camp of Kobe being a bit overrated (though very fun to watch), but with regards to David Lee, well, I’m sure some of you saw this piece:

    http://www.realgm.net/src_feature_pieces/769/20090504/21_reasons_why_knicks_shouldn/t_break_bank_with_david_lee/

    Some of it’s tongue-in-cheek, some of it a little misguided, but it does push forward a line of thinking that Lee is too much of a cipher on defense and too limited on offense to warrant big dollars.

  37. Z-man

    From a look at the game 1 stat sheet, looks like Kobe’s supporting cast didn’t show up either. This has the makings of a good series, both teams are very different and Artest and Battier are formidable obstacles for Kobe. Yao should dominate Gasol and Bynum.

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