There has been quite a bit of discussion on the Sixers' defensive performance vs. the Lakers. Some of it was good (challenging of shots led to average 2-point and excellent 3-point percentages against, 16 turnovers forced), some of it was bad (all those rebounds!). So who was responsible for what? One way to tell is to do what I did a couple times last year, compute a reverse boxscore, by assigning all Lakers statistics to a Sixer. In the reverse boxscore, defensive rebounds, steals, and blocks are all accumulated while the Sixers are on offense, while all other stats are accumulated while the Sixers are on defense. When there are switches on defense, I usually assign the shot attempts/makes to the final defender, not to the initial defender (same for offensive rebounds allowed).
Let's talk about the Sixers' first-half defense on Kobe Bryant first. Kobe got his points against the following defenders:
- Iguodala 3-5 (FG) 1-2 (3P) 2-2 (FT) for 9 points
- Hawes 0-3 0-1 0-0 0
- Holiday 2-2 2-2 0-0 6
- Turner 3-4 1-1 0-0 7
- Young 0-0 0-0 2-2 2
Of all the made shots, only a couple were not well-defended (the 3-pointer where Turner was doubling and did not rotate to an open Kobe, Iguodala's and Thad's fouls, the "milestone" jumper where Iguodala got caught on a pick).
In the second half, the Sixers made a concerted effort to get the ball out of Kobe's hands by double-teaming in the 3rd quarter (hence only 2 shot attempts), with mixed results because Kobe sometimes made good passes to open teammates. This continued early in the 4th quarter. Down the stretch, though, Iguodala lived up to his defensive reputation and forced four misses and a turnover (offensive foul) playing mostly isolation defense, those stops being just as important as Lou's makes on the other end. Kobe's one basket in the 4th came when Iguodala essentially stole the ball and was pushed out of the way by Kobe while retrieving it; Kobe then penetrated and scored a tough runner over Vucevic. Iguodala's final line vs. Kobe: 4-9 1-2 2-2 11 and 3 turnovers forced. Turner also had success in the 2nd half vs. Kobe, forcing 4 misses and winding up with a final line of 3-8 1-4 0-0 7.
Regarding the rest of the reverse boxscore, I was quite surprised upon re-watching the game that Hawes challenged so many shots and forced a lot of misses. His 8 offensive rebounds allowed is horrible, but he really made an effort to switch out to shooters (and he was the only Sixers to have success vs. Kobe in the 1st half! -- all on switches). Overall, no Sixer really allowed a high percentage of shots except Thad, who left a few people open while he was doubling.
As I have done before, I used the actual boxscore and reverse boxscore to calculate each Sixer's PER and Opponent PER. Remember, PER is normalized so that 15.0 is league average. Here are the results:
A few comments:
- Hawes' and Vucevic's high OPP PER was primarily because of rebounds allowed. They both did a decent job challenging shots. Thad was the only one with a high OPP PER because of made shots allowed.
- Turner's high OPP PER was partially because of 4 offensive rebounds allowed, but they all came on the same possession (Kobe had two, Gasol two, and Turner happened to be the nearest in all cases), so it's a little misleading.
- Meeks' OPP PER was helped out by getting to guard the fossil that is Metta World Peace, who improved his 3-point pct. to 17.3% by shooting 1-4. This is direct evidence that OPP PER needs to take into account who the player is guarding.
- Jrue gave up the two 3's to Kobe in the 2nd (both well-defended) and nothing else all game.
- Overall, the Sixers "held" the Lakers to under league-average PER (14.7) while being above league-average themselves (17.2). Lou's PER was off the charts, helping out the Sixers' own PER numbers.
So, let the discussion begin. Do the stats back up your impression of the Sixers' defensive performance? Who did better/worse than you thought? Would the Sixers have been better off challenging fewer shots and getting more rebounds?