It's always more fun to break down a win instead of a loss, so let's see how the 76ers' 106-96 win over the Knicks was obtained from a Differential Production point of view. (for the uninitiated, click here to see the full explanation of Differential Production).
For this game, Brian was willing to "score" the second half and thus cut my work in half -- thanks Brian! Here are the overall results:
- Surprisingly, in a game where the Sixers scored 106 points, the game was won on the defensive side. The team ODP was +3 for the game, while the team DDP was +6.
- Even more surprisingly, the leaders on defense were several bench players who aren't thought of as good defenders: Lou (team high +3.25), Meeks (+3), and Speights (+2). Most of that was done in the 2nd half, which Brian watched more closely, so he can comment on whether that was really good defense or just "luck."
- As in the Pacer win, the Knicks made a lot of unforced errors, as evidenced by the +8.5 total for Team "Stops" (open shots missed) and +3 for Team Turnovers Forced (for unforced errors). Wins are born out of both luck and good play.
- I was surprised to find that Brand was a net negative for the game (-2.75), but it's important to remember that he was guarding the Knicks' best scorer, Amare. In DP terms, if the defender of the opponents' best scorer is not too much of a negative, other players can make up for it. In this game, Jrue (team high +5.5) won his matchup over Felton.
- Turner gave up a lot of points (some off poor defense, some off his turnovers that led to baskets). He was 2nd-worst in this game for overall DP (-5.5), but he made some positive contributions throughout the game, as several people have pointed out. Worst DP, no surprise, belonged to Mr. Hawes.
- First of all, the process for accumulating this data is time-consuming (it probably took me two hours to do the second half, but a lot of that time was just getting familiar with the scoring and re-checking plays to assign credit/blame), but it's completely worth it. Watching every play with the framework of DP in mind is enlightening almost, and I want to thank Statman for developing the system.
- Before I get into the individual efforts, I want to point out one string Doug Collins pulled in the second half of that game. On just about every make, he applied a sort of token pressure with the guards, and then fell back into a zone. Usually, a 1-2-2 zone, with Jrue at the top, then Meeks/Turner or Lou/Turner and Brand/Battie underneath. This zone was unbelievably effective, and really everyone was involved. Jrue was doing a great job of slowing the ball down at the point of attack, and stopping any dribble drives into the middle before they started. The wings were awesome at closing on three-point shooters. The Knicks only had one uncontested three-point look in the fourth quarter, and that was off an offensive rebound before the defense could react. Finally, you have to give a ton of credit to Battie, Brand and Speights. They more than held their own on the blocks, they challenged shots and did a great job with positional man-on-man whenever the Knicks tried to go to Amare in the post. I don't know if this was a case of Collins throwing darts at a board, or if this is a defense he specifically chose for that particular group of players, but they played it to perfection. It was their defense that won this game, make no mistake.
- OK, if you watched the game or even just checked the box score, you already know Jrue had a great game. What you probably didn't know is that he didn't contribute a whole lot to DP in the first half, in fact he was a -.5. In the second half, though, he was +6, and in the decisive fourth quarter, he was +5. In fact, Turner and Jrue combined for a +10 in the fourth on the back of efficient offense, solid defense and great defensive rebounding. Jrue also made two phenomenal assists for high-impact scores, one on a baseline drive that he used to kick to Meeks for a wide-open corner three, the other a lob he threw to speights from about half court for a dunk.
- Call it effective hiding on the Sixers part, call it poor play on the Knicks part, but whatever the reason, the Knicks only attempted to go after Lou three times in the entire second half. He also only attempted one field goal. He was fouled 4 times, though and contributed a +4.25 in the half.
- Jrue and Turner brought it home, Lou was a consistent contributor throughout the second half, but the two guys who brought the Sixers back from their big deficit were Speights and Meeks, and they both did it on the defensive end. When the Sixers desperately needed stops, it was those two guys who provided them off the bench. Meeks and Speights combined for a +4 on the defensive end in the third quarter, and their plays came when the Knicks were on the verge of pushing their lead to double digits.