Does Phil Have A Legitimate Gripe?

In my recap of game 1, I wrote:

The Pistons only sent three Lakers to the foul line: Shaq, Kobe, and Medvedenko. That was expected by the stat-heads, but I’m sure that Phil Jackson will point this out to the media sometime in this series try to get some calls go his way. I wonder how effective this is, since he seems to do it every year.

Everyone can set their watches to “NBA Finals”, since Phil is at it again. Yes he’s appeared on just about every sports news channel noting the disparity of fouls called in the series. In another one of my posts, I noted how good Detroit was in not fouling their opponents:

Factor 4. Free Throws (FTM/FGA)
LA	.244	107%	7th
DET	.247	108%	4th
LA	.222	103%	16th
DET	.202	113%	3rd

The numbers clearly show Detroit as one of the best teams in the league in this respect. They are 8% better than the league in getting to the line, and 13% better in sending their opponents to the foul line. So it comes at no shock to me that Detroit is getting to the line more often in the Finals.

The question becomes does Jackson have a leg to stand on, or is he crying wolf as always? We should be able to figure out how many fouls to expect in this series, but it isn’t as simple as you would think. I hate to switch sports, but baseball makes this analogy easier. Let’s say Ken Harvey, currently hitting .360, is facing Mark Redman, who batters have hit an even .300 against. What would you think Harvey’s odds are of getting a hit.

A. .360 (Ken Harvey’s BA)
B. .300 (Redman’s oppBA)
C. .330 (the average between A & B)
D. .398 (hmmmmm)

If you said D, you are correct. If it doesn’t make sense, think of it this way. Ken Harvey is a good hitter facing a bad pitcher. He should hit higher than he normally does. Here is the equation I used to come up with .398, basically you are comparing both averages to the league average.

So let’s get down to the numbers:

Free Throws Made / 100 possessions
LAL	17.0	17.9	9.1	14.7	21.7
DET	25.6	23.8	25.0	24.8	24.0

For those of you that are chart-ally challenged, it says the Lakers should hit about 21.7 free throws (per 100 possessions), but in the series so far they’ve only hit 14.7. Detroit looks right on target with what they’re averaging to what is expected. Let’s double check and check out free throw attempts:

Free Throws Attempted / 100 possessions
LAL	21.9	26.3	14.7	21.0	27.6
DET	36.6	35.1	35.7	35.8	27.5

Ouch! The Lakers are nowhere near where they should be, while the Pistons are exceeding their average by a large amount.

There are many reasons why this is occurring. One could be Phil Jackson’s theory that the officials are calling a one sided game. Another is Larry Brown’s theory that the Lakers are taking more three pointers than normal. Is this even true?

Three Pointers Attempted / 100 possessions
TEAM	G1	G2	G3	Fnls	Reg Season
LAL	15.8	17.9	30.6	21.4	14.5

Coach Brown could have a point here. They’re taking a lot more threes than normal. Right now I’ll take the diplomatic approach and say they’re both right. The Lakers should get more calls, and maybe Phil should send some of his players towards the hoop to achieve this.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).