Tag Archives: Detroit Pistons

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.

East vs. West Week 1: Strong start to the 2014-15 season for the West

One week of non-conference play is in the books, and the West finished 6-1 against the East. The only loss came on Saturday night when Minnesota lost a close one against a Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson-less Bulls squad. The West did score some key wins, though, like Memphis over Charlotte in a game that felt like 2004 (the dead ball era) all over again.

Below is a breakdown of the first week. It’s much like the ones I did last year but with some new additions relating to Pythagorean record. Like last year, this table will also be updated weekly:

Though a large number through seven games, point differential says the West ran slightly better than expected. That’s probably thanks to Minnesota holding on against the Pistons Thursday night after blowing a 19-point lead in the 3rd quarter.

Week 1 is the last of light non-conference weeks until the all-star break. There will be 17 non-conference games in Week 2 and it will pick up even more after that. The teams most often in the Week 2 matchups are Minnesota, Cleveland, and Miami with three games each. Below are some of the most important games:

Monday:

Oklahoma City @ Brooklyn
Houston @ Miami

Tuesday:

Oklahoma City @ Toronto
Cleveland @ Portland

Sunday:

Miami @ Dallas

It looks like the East has one extra home game in Week 2 than the West, and the five key games listed above feature three of them on East courts. The East will have actually have a nice home-court stretch through Week 5, playing seven more home games than the West by then.

So starting with Cleveland playing three non-conference games this week, this could either be a stretch where the East gains some ground or the beginning of an onslaught by the West.

Non-conference standings and point differential since 1951

During the middle of last season, I started a weekly series devoted to non-conference games. Way back then, the 2014 West was on track for the highest winning percentage against the East over the last 18 years. They eventually fell just short of that mark, but recorded the highest point-differential against the East and vice versa. Those stats since 1997 are according to NBA.com, but there were still 46 years of non-conference matchups to uncover. Which conference in which year really had the highest winning percentage against the other? What about point differential? That’s what this post takes care of.

Below is a table allowing for sorting and filtering over the last 60+ years. 1951 to 1996 were from Basketball-Reference. After that I’ll look at the best years in winning percentage and point differential.

From 1951 to 1970, the conferences were called divisions and for good reason: There were as few as eight teams. The East was often the best over those 20 years of non-conference battles, and their peak was 1960. The Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia Warriors improved by 10+ wins, the latter team with a rookie Wilt Chamberlain, but there was also the 59-16 Boston Celtics with Bill Russell. Out West, the St. Louis Hawks were the only team to finish over .500, 46-29, while the other three were a combined 74-151. The 1960 East still have the highest winning percentage ever in non-conference play at 70.83, 7.5 percent better than the 2004 West’s mark of 63.33, but they also own the highest point differential of +5.87, about a full point higher than the second-highest that came from the 1972 West.

More on those runner-ups in a bit. From 1951 to 1970, though, it seems fair to put an asterisk next to that era’s non-conference stats because of how small the NBA was. For that reason and visual purposes, I left them out of some charts.

As for 2004, the East was mostly a two-team race between the eventual champion Detroit Pistons and the conference finalist Indiana Pacers. In the West, the Lakers may have been the favorite, but there were arguably four other teams that, with a little luck, could’ve made the Finals instead. For the highest point differential, the 1972 West outdoes 2014 by a decent amount. Among other reasons for the West’s success 42 years ago, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks were in their second season placed in the conference. Six of their nine teams recorded over 47 wins that year while the East had just two of their eight do the same in Boston and New York.

Below is a chart of point differential since 1971 with some notes:

west pd since 1971

(click to enlarge)

Back to the table, though: I included ‘PD%’, which stands for point differential percentage. This was an attempt to adjust for pace over the years since the average in 1972 was 112.0 and last season it was 93.9. Maybe winning 125-115 looks less impressive than 105-95, maybe it doesn’t. When it comes to the top point differential, though, we can see if dividing West points by East points changes anything:

west pd and percentage since 1971 pdeahaiohaso;dhf

‘PD%’ doesn’t change too much of the top 10. It does lower the separation between the 1972 and 2014 West while some recent, slow-paced years with a dominant conference move up the ranks, but the charts over the last 40 years look pretty identical. They both indicate East was better during the ’80s and, when some guy named Michael Jordan wasn’t in retirement, the ’90s also. Since then, the East has struggled for a variety of reasons, one being sloppy roster management.

That looks to have changed somewhat, and sooner or later some of the West’s powerhouses will rebuild while the East will crank out more consistent winners. We’ll see how much LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh all staying in the East helped the conference in both the short and long run.

Next Monday I’ll bounce off this post and take a look at non-conference records of the past using not just point differential, but some stats I’ve yet to use in this series. (Edit: Maybe not next Monday…but the next Monday after that, and also the Friday that week…!)

East vs. West Week 25: Final standings with offense-defense splits

The East vs. West series started thanks to the West’s usual dominance over the East this season, but also thanks to a post by Basketball-Reference detailing the historical disparity in the conferences over the years. This is the final post this season.

A bit late thanks to a fever that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon and looking into a few projects going forward, but below is the final week-by-week non-conference breakdown. Followed by that are the final point differential tables and also some splits for how teams performed versus each conference and on the road or at home. There are some pretty glaring differences in each.

But below is the breakdown first:

The last game featured Detroit Detroiting to Oklahoma City, falling in the final minute to a Thunder squad looking to clinch the second seed out West.

Onto point differentials with the first sheet comparing this season’s margin of victory with others and the second sheet looking at month-by-month splits of this year.

Lastly, thanks to some boredom but also hoping to add something to the last of these posts, below are some home-road east-west splits for offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and net rating. Since I still can’t figure out how to let readers sort through columns (it might be available on the newest version of Google Sheets, but still no luck embedding those to here), I color-coated rankings:

Something of a TL;DR section for the tables above, starting with offensive efficiency and ending with net rating:

    • Sample sizes are somewhat small for each. There are 15 non-conference home and road games and 26 games each for teams in the same one, but especially for squads in the same division. It makes for some big swings when comparing splits, especially for a team that goes through a roller coaster of a regular season like, for example, a trip to the West coast while dealing with injuries or turmoil then hit its stride after hosting some games.
    • There’s a noticeable drop-off when comparing arguably the easiest games (at home versus a team out East) and arguably the most difficult (on the road versus a West squad). Comparing the former to the latter, New Orleans has the biggest decline in scoring, scoring 10.2 points/100 possessions less. Detroit, Milwaukee, and Cleveland have upticks, oddly enough.
    • When comparing those splits to a team’s overall offensive efficiency, here are the biggest increases and decreases: :
    • Uptick/Downtick compared to overall efficiency (offense)
      UpticksplitO downticksplitO
    • Like scoring for teams hosting East opponents compared to on the road against the West, the difference in allowing points per 100 possessions is pretty large. Again comparing the former to the latter, every team allowed more points on the road against West teams with Cleveland at the largest with +14.1 points.
    • For nearly the entire season, the Spurs were the only team to allow less than 100 points when on the road against the West, a spectacular feat when they rested their trio (and more) for a decent chunk of those games. That accomplishment disappeared after their games at Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Dallas, and Houston.
    • Below are the largest upticks and downticks in defensive efficiency when compared to a team’s overall numbers. Captain Obvious maybe, but here’s a reminder that downticks in defensive efficiency are good when regarding the screenshots below:
    • Uptick/Downtick compared to overall efficiency (defense)
      upticksplitDDownticksplitD
    • The last sheet, regarding net rating, features some more startling numbers. Indiana somehow has a negative net on the road against East teams while Minnesota, among others, has a quite a change when comparing games at home versus the East to any other split.
    • There’s also a 20 point/100 possession difference for New Orleans when comparing games at home versus the East and on the road against the West. It’s the highest difference when comparing those two splits. Indiana (16.1), Houston (13.7), Chicago (13.5), and Minnesota (13.0) round out the top five.
    • The Spurs and Clippers are among the more consistent teams when comparing each category.
    • Overall, this all confirms the obvious: Teams often performed much better against the East than the West and even more when adding home-road splits, though the sample sizes for each are somewhat small.

This was a fun series to fool around with each week, and it was nice to see these posts recently assist two of my favorite writers and tweeters, Zachary Bennett and Matt D’Anna, in looking at how to retool divisions and conferences, or even get rid of them. That probably did more for me than it did for them since it looks like this blog has a few extra readers daily, and it was nice to know there was at least some usefulness in these posts. Good stuff. I definitely celebrated with a ham sandwich. It was fantastic.

But that’s it for this series, at least until next season when I could see the West pulling off a top-5 point differential. There are some likely rising teams out East like Washington, Toronto, and Chicago in a way, among others, but the West has as many if not more teams that should improve like Phoenix, New Orleans, and possibly the Lakers and ones that should stay legitimate in Oklahoma City, Houston, and the Clippers. Of course, there’s a whole off-season to play out and the East could balance itself somewhat with teams rising from the lottery to 40-win territory, but for now I’m siding with yet another loaded Western Conference.

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