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Laker playoff performance

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  • Dean Oliver
    One of the mysteries last year was why the Lakers did not play as well during the regular season. Lots of chemistry questions were raised. What the numbers
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 31, 2001
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      One of the mysteries last year was why the Lakers did not play as
      well during the regular season. Lots of chemistry questions were
      raised. What the numbers said was that the defense had dropped off
      in 2001 from 2000. I ran a few analyses of this to try to determine
      whether it was Kobe or Shaq who caused the defensive problems. I
      couldn't get an answer.

      Well, the playoffs showed the Lakers' true ability. The defense
      kicked in and they hammered everyone rather remarkably. In the
      regular season, the Lakers' offensive and defensive ratings (points
      scored and points allowed per 100 possessions) were 107.0 and 103.4.
      In the postseason, these numbers both improved, to 110.1 and 96.5.
      Improvement in the playoffs is not typical because teams face greater
      competition, but it happens. It's not all that rare. A few things
      are interesting, though. First -- we all expected the Lakers to play
      better in the playoffs. We knew they were holding back. That is
      unusual. Second, the defense improved 7 points. Not as unusual, but
      still a pretty big leap. No other team last year improved
      defensively by more than 3 pts.

      So what changed? Well, it wasn't Kobe or Shaq. It was the other
      guys, the supporting cast. I read in some preview magazine that
      Robert Horry was underrated. Well, frankly, he just plays a lot
      better in the playoffs. Same with Rick Fox. I estimate something
      called Defensive Stops, roughly the number of times you force the
      other team to end their possession without scoring. I have a
      mechanism to estimate them for players, too. In order to account for
      time on the court, I divide an individual's stops by the number of
      possessions he is likely to face to get something called Defensive
      Stops per Possession (catchy, huh?). That number is one I like to
      look at to evaluate how strong players are on defense. Below is what
      I saw for the Lakers in the regular season and playoffs:

      Regular Playoffs
      Shaq 0.622 0.589
      Kobe 0.494 0.498
      Fisher 0.483 0.448
      Fox 0.463 0.527
      Grant 0.486 0.525
      Horry 0.527 0.607
      Shaw 0.484 0.496
      Harper 0.487 0.697
      George 0.488 0.331
      Lue 0.425 0.575
      Madsen 0.429 0.410
      Foster 0.525 0.555

      Fox, Grant, Horry, and our man Lue stepped it up the most (Harper
      didn't play much. Shaq and Kobe didn't change much. Fisher went
      down a little.

      My general sense has always been that Horry plays much better in the
      playoffs, but no one else seemed to say it. Well here is some
      defensive support. Offensively, my numbers don't show much
      difference for him.

      Anyway, what does this mean? It suggests to me that the defensive
      roles got activated a lot more in the playoffs. Phil Jackson told
      his guys to step up the D in the playoffs. Kobe and Shaq didn't have
      much more to step up with, but the other guys did.

      I'll be curious to see if the Lakers slack off again in the regular
      season. It's not a horrible thing, if they can turn it on so well
      later.

      Dean Oliver
      Journal of Basketball Studies
    • Mike Goodman
      Dean, Dean, Dean Maybe it wasn t in here, but I for one have been saying how Robert Horry does in fact always play better in the postseason. Further, Horry
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 31, 2001
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        Dean, Dean, Dean
        Maybe it wasn't in here, but I for one have been saying how Robert
        Horry does in fact always play better in the postseason.
        Further, Horry always gets better in the later stages of the
        playoffs. Almost always.

        Standardized Production Rates
        R. Horry Min. Pct. Sco. Reb Ast Stl TO Blk Total
        Reg. Sea. 27.7 .523 10.6 6.6 3.1 1.6 1.9 1.4 23.0
        Playoffs 31.2 .550 11.7 7.2 3.2 1.5 1.5 1.2 24.9

        Horry's only bad playoffs were in 1997, his first season in LA (9
        games). 1999 was slightly sub-par. All other playoffs have been
        moderately to substantially elevated over his regular-seasons.

        Damned if I can find anything these days. I know Horry's ratio of
        playoff/RS totals ranks among the best ever, as do his % of minutes
        in postseason play.

        For a guy who has dropped to the level of a "scrub", he can still
        come into an NBA Finals game and take over. Didn't he dunk over
        Mutombo, when Fox couldn't, and Kobe couldn't?

        --- In APBR_analysis@y..., "Dean Oliver" <deano@t...> wrote:
        > My general sense has always been that Horry plays much better in
        the
        > playoffs, but no one else seemed to say it. .... Offensively, my
        numbers don't show much
        > difference for him.
      • Michael K. Tamada
        ... Yes, isn t it almost a cliche, how Horry turns it up in the playoffs, especially the finals? Starting with his early years in Houston and those two
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 3, 2001
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          On Thu, 1 Nov 2001, Mike Goodman wrote:

          > Dean, Dean, Dean
          > Maybe it wasn't in here, but I for one have been saying how Robert
          > Horry does in fact always play better in the postseason.
          > Further, Horry always gets better in the later stages of the
          > playoffs. Almost always.

          Yes, isn't it almost a cliche, how Horry turns it up in the playoffs,
          especially the finals? Starting with his early years in Houston and those
          two championshps in the mid-1990s. Sam Cassell also, with those Houston
          teams. Deadly in the playoffs, just sort of hanging around during the
          regular season. I think it's only with his Milwaukee years that Cassell's
          become a year-round player, he might've had one good regular season in NJ.

          However, I think of Horry as turning up his offense, and Dean's statistics
          show that he's turning it up on defense (don't know if that's "instead" or
          "in addition").


          --MKT
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