This afternoon I decided to take a closer look at the stats from yesterday's game. I wanted to see if there was a numeric way to quantify the effectiveness of the Sixers' game plan, on both sides of the ball. After the jump, we'll dive into the results.
I wanted to take a look at a few specific advanced stats, pace (possessions), offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) and defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions). With the naked eye, I guessed the game was played more at the Sixers' pace (90 possessions per game, Orlando actually plays faster at 92.7 possessions per game). I used the following formula to come up with the total possessions, from Dean Oliver's Basketball on paper:
The answer was pretty much as I expected in this area. The Sixers used 91 possessions, the Magic 89. Next it was time to test if the Sixers' strategy of single covering Dwight Howard had any effect on Orlando's scoring. The answer is not really. For the season, Orlando averaged 109 points per 100 possessions, in game one they averaged 108.9. The Sixers allowed an average of 106.6 points per 100 possessions on the season, so their defense didn't perform to it's rating either.
On the other side of the ball, the difference was night and day. The Sixers scored 111.1 per 100 possessions, 4.4 points better than their season average. For the season, Orlando only allowed 100.5 points per 100 possessions. It was clearly this side of the ball that won the Sixers the game, statistically.
When I was done looking at the broad picture, I wanted to take a closer look at the box score. One thing jumped out at me right away, Dwight Howard. Check out these usage splits from the game (possessions here are fga + tov + trips to the line for 2 shots):
- Dwight Howard - 21 possessions, 31 points
- The rest of the team - 69 possessions, 67 points
Leading the way for the Sixers was obviously Donyell Marshall, who scored 11 points with his 6 possessions. Lou was also excellent, 18 points in 13 possessions. Iguodala used a shocking 29 possessions to get his 20 points.
My takeaway from this exercise? Well, the Sixers did an excellent job of offensive execution, especially against this team. I don't know what to make of their defensive stats. I thoroughly expected some kind of dent in Orlando's rating, but it just wasnt there. Maybe the thing the stats can't quantify is the psychological damage done by a made three, especially against the Sixers. For some reason, when Dwight Howard throws down a monster dunk, you shrug and get over it. When Rashard Lewis drains a three, your stomach drops. It's like you're constantly climbing uphill.
What are your thoughts on the first game? Was the difference really offensive execution for the Sixers? Did you think they played a good defensive game? Do you think it's less damaging to allow the Magic to score at relatively the same pace if they're hitting less threes, simply from a psychological standpoint? I'm not sure where I stand on that last one, interested to hear your thoughts.