Tag Archives: sports

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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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!

Adding to the unlikeliness of Corey Brewer’s 51 points

Shortly after Corey Brewer’s 51-point outing against the Houston Rockets, Ryan Feldman at ESPN Stats & Info published a post about if the Timberwolves wing is the most unlikely 50-point scorer ever.

Here are some cool tidbits from that column that I suggest giving a read:

What do Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Rick Barry and Corey Brewer have in common?

They’re the only players in NBA history with at least 50 points and six steals in a game (steals became official in 1973-74).

More:

Brewer is the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in a game without having previously scored 30 points in a game.

And lastly:

Brewer, in his seventh NBA season, is the most experienced player ever to score 50 points without having previously scored 30.

The only other players to score 50 before ever scoring 30 among players with at least two full seasons of NBA experience were Delk (fifth season in 2000-01) and Willie Burton (1994-95 season with the Philadelphia 76ers was his fifth season).

I’d like to add onto those interesting stats, though, after looking through 50-point scorers dating back to the 1978 season. It seems like that’s the first year Basketball-Reference started adding usage rating, among other statistics to their player pages. Here’s what I found:

For seasons when a player has scored 50 points in one game, Brewer’s usage rating is comfortably in last place. Below are the bottom 10 out of 150:

In the last 10 games prior to his explosion versus Houston, Brewer was using 18 percent of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Adding his career night (32.6 usage) hikes that recent uptick to 20.

Brewer also holds the second-worst PER (bottom 10 here) of the 50-point club, one that increased .5 points overnight. He also squeaks into the bottom 20 percent when it comes to offensive rebound percentage, something that could aid in scoring. He’s also on the list of the 25 worst three-point shooting seasons ever, at least for players taking over 200 attempts, and a below-average free throw shooter at 72 percent. The Timberwolves were also without one-half of their “outlet mall” in Kevin Love while Brewer often makes up the receiving end of the fast break points.

None of these obstacles got in the way of Brewer, who scored 32 points in the restricted area alone while going 2-of-6 from three-point range. As for three throws, he was 73 percent but off 15 attempts, good for 11 points from the stripe.

It’s safe to say he’s one of the more unlikely 50-point scorers and hopefully those stats contribute to the discussion. Just for fun, I wanted to compare his shooting that game to his averages in his first 77 outings so I fiddled around with a variety of graphs I’ve recently used for the highest scorers and teams, among other related posts.

Below are his attempted and made shots per game. The last graph is Brewer’s first 77 games with the same axis used for his 51-point outing:

Brewer attempts together

Click to enlarge.

Lastly, points per location:

brewer points

Click to enlarge.

Edit: Percentage of points by location and shooting percentages can be found in those links. I just couldn’t help myself when it came to including yet another batch of those charts in a post. I should probably turn it down a notch.

As someone in Minnesota, though, this has been quite an entertaining last month or so of the season despite the Timberwolves either basically out of playoff contention or officially eliminated. They travel to Sacramento on Sunday where they’ll play former-teammate Derrick Williams, who always seems to show up to play them, but how Brewer will bounce back from 51 points (I still can’t believe it) will obviously be exciting as well. Given how he plays, it’s possible those were the happiest 51 points ever.

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference.com, save for the shooting charts. Those are according to NBA.com’s numbers.

J.R. Smith’s shooting spree in charts

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J.R. Smith’s shooting chart over his last seven games.

While the Knicks’ season is veering off a cliff, J.R. Smith has come out with guns blazing in each of his last seven games, for better or for worse. He’s been one of the league’s leading scorers during that stretch at 23.7 per, much of it thanks to emptying the clip from beyond the arc by attempting 12.7 threes per game (!!!) and doubling his total attempts for the season in just two weeks. This was all capped yesterday afternoon when he set the record for attempted threes in a game with 22, a decent summary of the Knicks’ season and something only believable if it happened to, well, Smith himself.

But while some of those attempted threes have been cringe-worthy, Smith’s shooting over the last seven games has averaged out to decent efficiency: Nearly 24 points per game on about 18 shots and shooting splits of 48.5/46.3/100. Beyond the arc is where Smith’s done most of his damage, and by fooling around with similar charts I’ve used to visualize point distribution for teams we can see the shift in Smith’s scoring from his first 63 games to his last seven and even last three where he’s averaging 29.3 points. (If only that kind of scoring were sustainable, for NBA Twitter’s sake.)

The first chart we’ll look at is point per location from the normal six areas of the floor: restricted area, in the paint (non-restricted area), mid-range, corner three, above the break three, and free throws. As an example, below is Smith’s point distribution per game through his first 63 outings:

jr smith ppl england

Smith’s scoring weighed heavily toward the above the break three, for better or for worse, with nearly six points (5.62 to be exact) coming from that area of the floor. No other area gets as many as three points, with mid-range being the second most frequent scoring area at 2.86 points per.

Now, below features the graph previously mentioned along with his scoring distribution per game over his last seven outings and last three:

Smiff PPL

Click to enlarge. Quite helpful!

The very first chart provided shrinks considerably thanks to the max values provided to fit in Smith’s recent, unreal three-point barrage, and for the most part that’s all where he’s scored from. About three-fifths of his points coming from that scoring zone over his last seven games and two-thirds over his last three. The corner three and mid-range areas get some attention as well, but anywhere inside the paint and at the stripe has been mostly neglected.

Lastly, here’s a GIF of the increase:

smiff ppl on Make A Gif

While Smith’s upped his three-point attempts, the uptick in usage from 20.8 in his first 63 games to 25.9 over his last seven hasn’t hurt his overall efficiency. In fact, during the recent stretch, Smith’s effective field goal percentage is 62.2 compared to a pedestrian 48.6 during his first 63 games.

Below hopefully shows that increase from five spots on the floor, minus free throw shooting. A reminder should be given that Smith’s shots recently have largely come from the perimeter. He’s only taken a combined two shots per game from the two areas inside the paint.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

And like with points per location, below is a GIF of the increase in EFG% across the three stretches of games:

smiff EFG% on Make A Gif

Surely this isn’t sustainable, though there’s only four games left for the Knicks so we might see Smith lock and load until season’s end. New York doesn’t play another game until Friday anyway, giving him plenty of time to rest his shooting hand.

Edit: Previously, I mentioned that Smith holds the record for games with 10+ 3PA with four, but according to Basketball-Reference there’s actually a tie between multiple players for seven straight games of 10+ attempts. There’s still time for Smith to join that group as his streak is still alive, but for now he has a few games to go.

All stats are according to NBA.com.

East vs. West Week 23: Counting down to the last of the 450 games

Another week, another updated week-by-week breakdown:

The most exciting non-conference game of the week had to go to Minnesota traveling to Miami and winning in double overtime, much of it thanks to Kevin Love’s ridiculous shot making and Ricky Rubio carving up a hyper Heat defense. LeBron James and Chris Bosh weren’t too bad for the Heat, though, among other players. Dwyane Wade didn’t play because of a lingering hamstring injury.

Houston also lost their last two non-conference games, falling to the Nets and Raptors. Aside from all but guaranteeing the Rockets the fourth seed in the West, it also meant that San Antonio clinches the best record against the East at 24-6 while the Lakers and Kings are tied for the worst at 12-18 each. Neither hold a candle to Milwaukee’s 3-27 record in non-conference play, however, and the Bucks, 76ers, Magic, Celtics, and Pistons are collectively 100 games under .500 against the West, a combined record of 24-124 with the 76ers and Pistons finishing up the season with Memphis and Oklahoma City, respectively.

Maybe that’ll lead to an uptick in the West’s point differential, which I also updated from last week’s post. It hardly changed, but probably worth noting where it ranks in non-conference play since 1997 anyway:

Lastly, here’s the 212,749,834,9a8,943,f92th reminder about the West’s possible record-breaking winning percentage: They’d have to finish their last five games 4-1 to tie 2004’s 63.3 winning percentage and win all five to break it.

Below are those final non-conference games this season:

The last three games look very winnable for the West while the first two are something of a toss-up. Maybe they’ll split? Miami and Minnesota will be playing the tail-end of back-to-backs, however, with the first games against Brooklyn and San Antonio, respectively. Not the easiest two consecutive games for either team, especially when Minnesota has been without Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, and about half the roster recently.

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