Tag Archives: Cleveland Cavaliers

Loose Ball Fouls and Rebounding Rates in the Finals

Five games into the NBA Finals, the rebounding has leveled out with Cleveland holding about a two percent edge over Golden State on both the offensive and defensive glass. That’s meant a bit more for the Cavaliers, the underdog that could use every possible chance to score.

Cleveland’s attempt to dominate the offensive glass has been noticeable, as well as the effects. Among them, sometimes Golden State has struggled to get out in transition partly because of the threat of a rebound by either Tristan Thompson or the recently reduced presence of Timofey Mozgov. Over the last two games that’s felt like less of a problem for the Warriors, and they’ve looked to score quickly when catching Cleveland with poor floor balance. Below isn’t the greatest example regarding crashing the boards, but Andre Iguodala has feasted on some of these opportunities where Thompson is around the rim and multiple players are around the corner three:

Arguably the least flashy effect of Cleveland’s rebounding has been drawing the loose ball foul. Those are like the rebounder’s version of the and-one, and they happen almost as frequently, or in this case rarely with loose ball fouls occurring 1.3 times per game this season compared to 1.9 times for and-ones. Cleveland drew 1.5 loose fouls per game over the season, and 1.3 in the playoffs until the Finals.

Exciting to read about something that happens not even twice per game, right?

Those versions of the Cavaliers weren’t like the current, though, and in the last five games they’ve drawn an average of 3.8 loose ball fouls, or 16 percent of Golden State’s total committed fouls. That’s a small, but consistent sample size as Cleveland’s drawn between three and five each outing. It’s not like David Blatt is telling their players “go out there and draw some loose ball fouls,” but given the rebounding edge they’ve had to lean on to give them a chance this series, Cleveland’s rate seems sustainable not for 82 games but at least two more. It’s a little thing, one of several, that they wouldn’t mind going their way during their quest to win two straight games.

Should that rate of drawing loose ball fouls continue, it’ll also impact the rebounding rates of Thompson and Mozgov, who have drawn 18 of those 19 fouls for Cleveland. Unlike at the college level, the NBA rarely credits the player drawing those fouls off a missed shot with the rebound, logged instead as a board by the team. Something tells me Thompson and Mozgov wouldn’t mind more appreciation for their efforts.

With that in mind, I looked at their current rebounding rates and what they would look like if we gave 18 of those 19 team rebounds to Cleveland’s starting bigs through the first five games.

timotom

That’s a pretty noticeable difference so far, especially for Mozgov. His per game numbers and overall performance in the Finals took a hit after what happened in Game 5, but Mozgov’s rebounding woes were patched up after adjusting for minutes and the three loose ball fouls drawn on Sunday. He’s done a good job getting position for a rebound after running pick and rolls with LeBron James, and Festus Ezeli has often been the player to foul Mozgov on those plays.

Thompson’s speed has been a problem at times for some guy named Andrew Bogut while he’s drawn a few fouls on Harrison Barnes partly from his strength, though Barnes has gotten his fair share of offensive rebounds too. Thompson seems to both have a knack for where the ball will deflect off the rim and a refusal to let his opponent box out a zone. He never stops moving, and it takes ridiculous endurance to do that for over 40 minutes a night like he has during the Finals.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, those drawn fouls haven’t exactly propelled them to four straight wins. How shocking that just one part of a basketball game hasn’t shifted an entire seven-game series, but among other loose ball fouls, the one David Lee committed against Thompson near the end of Game 3 stuck out. It looked like it sealed the Warriors’ fate, but Lee’s foul was also sneaky smart and I think he knew it, never objecting to the call. He used the foul as soon as Thompson was a near-lock to get the rebound, so either Lee gets away with that foul and has another chance at the rebound or he puts a mediocre free throw shooter in Thompson at the line, who was fouled instantly to give the Warriors an extra possession to cut into the 80-87 deficit.

I could be giving Lee too much credit, but it’s a good example of why context matters and how we still don’t have much of it to work with when looking at fouls. At the same time, I don’t think it hurts to try to look at them on paper anyway.

All statistics are from Basketball-Reference. Rebounding percentages were calculated at SacTown Royalty

Advertisements

East vs. West Week 15-18: FINALLY AN UPDATE

AFTER FOUR WEEKS OFF WE’RE BACK WITH AN UPDATE IN NON-CONFERENCE STANDINGS. My first draft was typed in all caps but I narrowed it down to one sentence. Over the four-week break from posting, I actually did post some statistics I calculated over all-star weekend regarding the two all-star games that you can find in the My Soup section.

Anyway, the East fared okay against the West just before and after the all-star break but also after the trade deadline. From weeks 15 through 18, they finished 27-34 but were 21-20 coming into last week if that makes sense. Many of those losses last week were close games, including Cleveland’s overtime loss to Houston on Sunday, and finished week 18 6-14.

Below is the updated week-by-week breakdown along with non-conference records from teams over the last four weeks.

week182

(Edit: If you compare the previous update to this one, there are slight changes in some weekly stats. I’m pretty sure I re-corrected the same errors I tried to fix in week 14, which was weird to say the least. Now, scoring margins and win totals all add up. Yay.)

So among other teams, Denver stunk, Houston played well, and Brooklyn has scored some wins that might not have been expected from them. They’re still doing that with a win last night over Golden State.

That’s all I have to say, though. WOW, GREAT ANALYSIS, but I don’t have much else to say as I have to post this ASAP and prepare for work way ahead of time than normal because SO MUCH SNOW.

Again, while I haven’t posted much at all on this here blog this season, I added some stats to the My Soup page. Otherwise, I’m writing at Nylon Calculus. In time I’ll add some different posts. I didn’t have time to post another Dream Team over all-star break like I originally planned, so I’ll save that for the season’s end. I already have a bunch of ideas for posts to write in the off-season.

As for the non-conference postings, I’ll include some more stuff next week than I did for this post. That shouldn’t be too hard since this week I just copied and pasted some statistics. Story of my writing lately, actually.

Enjoy the week.

East vs. West Week 14: The East is rolling, plus some splits

I thought I wouldn’t write any non-conference roundups until the all-star break, but check out Week 14. THE EAST. There were supposed to be 27 games, but two were postponed on Monday:

(Note: There were a couple errors in a master schedule I have in Excel. Correcting them led to some minor changes in this week’s table compared to others. Minor, but noticeable. Most notably, Week 3 changed from 12-7 to 11-8. Simple data entry mistake that I didn’t notice until now.)

Anyway, the East since Week 7 are 81-89 and last week went 14-11 last week against the West, arguably their best stretch of non-conference play this season. Some of that is a little misleading, though. Oklahoma City is clearly better than New York even though the Knicks gave the Thunder a loss that could be huge in the long run, and Phoenix was likely going to win against Chicago and Washington when both were on tail-ends of back-to-backs. I’m not saying the Suns are worse than those two teams, but rest matters and they had an advantage each game.

And I’ve been meaning to run some numbers that paint a better picture than just looking at overall wins and losses, real or Pythagorean, the latter statistic a little goofy when applied the way I’ve been using it in these posts. I mean, I like to think after 450 games there is a large enough sample size to determine just how good or bad each conference was, and it’s not like anything I do will answer all questions, but I played around with some East-West splits anyway.

So below is what I looked at. I find Oklahoma City inconsistent health-wise to the point I left them off all splits save for conference-wide ones. That sounds crazy but I separated the West into the top eight and bottom seven seeds, but the Thunder were so weird to me that I left them off both. Like, when healthy they’re a playoff team, so it’s not totally fair to put them in the bottom seven where I wanted to see how the best and worst of the East performs against the mehhhh section of the West. This all might sound ridiculous and I apologize. If I run similar splits at the end of the season I’ll include the Thunder. Or just remove the top 8 teams and see if anybody notices.

Cleveland was a close call also, but I included them. This is all controversial, probably. The power I have on my own blog is out of control sometimes:

dasidhasda

Surprise, surprise! Good teams beat up on bad ones! Specifically the West though. I think that proves how much more deep the conference is, though most of us already knew and love to complain about that. Sure, the top five in the East can hold up versus the best in the West with an emphasis on the Hawks, but the sixth to eight spots (and possibly ten by the end of the year) in the West are obviously stronger than the same East seeds.

It is nice that the East has a juggernaut in Atlanta, though, and maybe Cleveland in time, making the conference at least tolerable. I might’ve already said this in previous posts, but the second round in the East is going to be pretty damn fun.

Anyway, hope the splits were interesting. Below is a look at this week’s non-conference games:

week15

Three Nuggets and Lakers games for the East to feed off of as well as a 13-9 home-road advantage, and the East has some decent firepower overall. The top five teams play nine of the 22 games INCLUDING A GOLDEN STATE-ATLANTA MATCHUP. That’s probably the game of the week, but I’m writing this before I’ve done the Watchability Rankings so who knows.

Anyway, enjoy the week.

East vs. West Week 11: Detroit, Atlanta ruin big week for the West

A day late again because, well, I actually like posting on Tuesdays. I’ll be posting Watchability Rankings on Mondays at Nylon Calculus anyway, and it’s kind of cool to already have a small percentage of non-conference games played out before previewing the week.

So by win-loss and point differential, Week 11 was pretty average with the West going 13-10 with a margin of victory of +4.61. Below are the non-conference summaries:

Week 11 scores:

week11results

Should the color scales be reversed?

By point differential, the West ran over two wins worse than expected in Week 11 and nearly six wins worse over the last three weeks. Games against Cleveland, New York, Orlando, and Philadelphia are largely to blame. They aren’t the only East teams to lose against the West, but they’re getting squashed.

How about Detroit with Jodie Meeks and without Josh Smith, though? Seriously, what the hell? They beat two-thirds of the Texas Triangle last week, which may or may not have an impact on the final East vs. West record, and they spoiled a huge Week 11 for the West. They are running super hot to where they remind me of this insane hand in poker.

Also, the Atlanta Hawks are amazing. They snagged victories over the Clippers and Grizzlies which deserve more love than just two sentences. I am a terrible person for doing just that.

The Hawks don’t play a West foe in Week 12, though, and the Pistons only play one. So now I wonder how much of the non-conference records each year have to do with teams playing East vs. West games when they’re hot, cold, injured, very healthy, etc. I mean, I like to think it balances out over 450 games, but who knows? It seems like the East has more problems with those elements than out West, but I didn’t research that at all before writing it down, so…

Week 12’s schedule is below. Somehow only 18 games, yet the East has a 12-6 home-road advantage:

week12

Houston (two non-conference games this week), New Orleans (four), Memphis (two), and San Antonio (two) take road trips out East while Brooklyn and Orlando play host to a couple of them. Miami and Cleveland also play three non-conference games this week, though they’re all on the road. It’s a crucial point in the season for both teams for a variety of reasons. Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York are absent which, for the most part, that’s not great for the East. Out West, the Pacific Division holds all of the West’s home games. They hold all of the cards, heh, or something. Not really, it just sounds cool, maybe.

Welp.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

East vs. West Week 10: Pythagorean madness

RIP Stuart Scott, who died Sunday at the age of 49.

A little late with the weekly roundup thanks to having the worst sleep schedule on planet earth.

Despite a legitimate Week 10 schedule for non-conference games, the West went 15-7 with a +10 point differential. That margin of victory made for a Pythagorean record of 17.6-4.4. Looking at the season so far, Week 10’s 2.6 win difference between the two win metrics is the largest we’ve seen this season. COOL. PYTHSANITY.

Below is the week-by-week summary below and actual scores from last week:

week10

So some large margins of victory came at the hands of East teams possibly running out of gas during their road trips out west. Philadelphia, Toronto, and Washington got, for the most part, roasted. In particular, this did not look fun for Washington:

Atlanta was/still is in good shape, though, having won at Utah and Portland on a back-to-back and the Clippers yesterday. WHOA. The top-5 or so out East gives the conference hope but it’s only January, for better or for worse.

Week 10 wasn’t pretty for all West teams anyway. The Sacramento Kings continued their downward spiral by going 0-3 on their road trip at Brooklyn, Boston, and the rising Detroit.

That’s about it for the bad times out West, though. A look into Week 11:

week11sched

The West enjoys another week of more home games, 14-9, though they already lost three of them. Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Miami, and Orlando will be traveling while Atlanta and Washington finished up their road trips last night.

Maybe this week will be different for the East. There are a lot of games featuring decent to pretty good teams from that conference and maybe they can squeak out an extra win or two compared to last week. But I’m not that picky. Losing by less than 20 points works, too. We need some more games that go down to the wire, specifically Cleveland @ Golden State on Friday.

Until next week.

%d bloggers like this: