Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Thunder

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:

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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.

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East vs. West Week 2: The East rebounds after shaky start

Through one week, it looked like non-conference play would get out of hand in the West’s favor. It even looked brutal halfway through Week 2 with the West going 14-3 through Wednesday. Cleveland lost twice on their road trip with playoff hopefuls Miami and Charlotte suffering losses as well, but the East bounced back over the last few days by finishing 5-2. Charlotte losing last night to the Lakers really hurt, but the East finished Week 2 with a somewhat respectable record of 7-10.

Below is the week-by-week breakdown:

How does this season stack up to last year after two weeks? The 2014 West was 14-10 through November 10 but caught fire during weeks 3 through 7, going 69-23 through that stretch with an overall record of 83-33. That’s right about when these weirdo posts started.

Back to the present, 19 non-conference games are scheduled this week. For the West, Oklahoma City and Utah are among the teams with the most games while the East will feature a lot of Brooklyn and Charlotte:

nonconfsecheu

Week 3 might be a pivotal set of games for the West since Week 4 and 5 feature a combined 10 more home games for the East. Then again, maybe it’s all fine when a team as bad as the Lakers can blow out the Hornets. Seriously, how and why did that happen…

Anyway, enjoy this week of basketball!

Potential playoff upsets with SRS

Six of the eight first round matchups are extending to at least six games for the first time since the best-of-seven format started in 2003. To me, none of those series have felt like a slogfest either. We might even see a few upsets, starting tonight with both the eighth-seeded Hawks and seventh-seeded Grizzlies hosting Game 6’s with 3-2 leads.

Looking at where each of those teams were seeded, those would be huge wins for Atlanta and Memphis if they can pull them off, but if we look at how they match up in regular season SRS with Indiana and Oklahoma City, respectively, sealing their first round series tonight (or in a Game 7) would be arguably even more impressive.

SRS, or shortened for Simple Rating System, combines margin of victory and strength of schedule. As you’ll see below, it has its drawbacks since it doesn’t exactly value records that help determine seeding, but it’s easily understandable and often does enough to show how good teams were for 82 games. For more of an explanation, check this out, but it might also help to say that the best SRS in league history, according to Basketball-Reference, comes from the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks at 11.91, narrowly beating out the 11.80 from the ’96 Chicago Bulls. The worst goes to the 1993 Dallas Mavericks at -14.68 while the average SRS is 0, though no team has ever actually achieved that exact rating.

To go back to the playoffs, from 2003 to 2013, the team with the higher SRS in their first round series has advanced 79.6 percent of the time, or about the same rate as teams with the higher seed at 78.4 percent. Teams with both the higher SRS and the higher seed (75 occurrences) won 84 percent of their matchups. (Edit: Washington, with an SRS .72 points less than Chicago, advanced Tuesday night and Portland, .62 points less than Houston, can advance tomorrow.)

The higher the difference in SRS with home court, the higher the likelihood a team will win a series, which makes it all the more interesting that Atlanta (SRS: -0.88) and Memphis (2.18) can each clinch tonight. Each of theirs are at least four points lower than Indiana (3.63) and Oklahoma City (6.66) and are in two of five matchups this postseason with that large of a difference or more.

Below are the others with Hawks-Pacers and Grizzlies-Thunder included:

I’ve been fiddling with the SRS of every matchup since 1984, when the league went to their current playoff format 30 years ago. The scenario this season’s Hawks, Grizzlies, and the other three teams are in – an SRS at least four points worse than their opponent and without home court advantage – has often made for a heck of an uphill battle.

Below is a round-by-round look at how teams, ones in those same situations as this year’s previously listed five teams, have performed over the last 30 seasons:

The Charlotte Bobcats will join the list of those that couldn’t overcome their disadvantages, but Atlanta and Memphis have two outs while Brooklyn and Dallas can still extend their season with victories at home tomorrow night.

As for the table above (for the series wins, click here) the only win in the second round came last postseason when Memphis (3.69) beat the Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder (9.15). Another weird one came in 2001 when the Los Angeles Lakers (3.13) had an SRS 4.18 points lower than San Antonio in the Conference Finals. Going by SRS, those Lakers were an underdog in every round except for the NBA Finals, when they were 0.11 points higher than the 76ers. They ended up having the most dominant postseason run of all time, according to Neil Paine but most likely tons of others, too.

2013 featured two upsets meeting this post’s requirements, though 1995 has the most ever with three. This postseason definitely has a chance of matching either 2013 or 1995, but they could also surpass them both with four or more. With all that’s happened the last two weeks, would it really be that surprising if that happened?

Also (!!), I haven’t posted lately because of a high fever at first, but I then made my debut at the Washington Post‘s Fancy Stats. If the Hawks’ three-point shooting has stood out to you, check out my post on how they’ve taken more threes than free throws and how unique their starting five is.

Any other thoughts are welcome.

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.

East vs. West Week 24: Eh???

Updated week-by-week breakdown with an added column: point differential for the West through each week.

The one game left is Detroit taking on Oklahoma City on Wednesday, guaranteed (probably) to be fun for no longer than one half.

With Oklahoma City’s loss at Indiana yesterday, though, the West is out of contention for their highest winning percentage ever. Sad times since I beat that possibility into the ground over the last two months. Regardless, there’s always point differential to look at:

Lastly, updated month-by-month point differential:

I’ll look into posting something far more interesting after the regular season concludes. We’re so close to those amazing first round matchups out West andacoupleoutEastbutwhatever. Three more days!

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