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The Sixers Redefine Consistency


Overall, the trend is pretty simple to spot. Against the good teams, the Sixers play good basketball. Against the bad teams, not so much. So what does this say about the Sixers?

It means that like many mediocre teams that have the talent to be better, they play up/down to the level of their opponent more often than not.

The good teams play at a higher level more consistently and thus would beat the lottery teams because they always play at 'their' level - more often than not the sixers will play to the level of their opponent.

I'm not sure if that's a team thing, a coaching thing, or what, but it's what I see

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Real and Speightacular reply to john on Mar 24 at 13:28
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Sounds reasonable. Setting the right mindset is a responsibility shared by the coach and the team's alpha dog. Assuming that alpha dog is supposed to be Iggy, I'm not sure he's the guy. I suspect his is not a dominate-all-the-time mentality. I think Thad is just the guy to push him.

Its hard to be consistent when:

1. You have so many young players in the rotation, and 2 of your vet starters are career inconsistent (WG and Sam.)

2. You lack jump shooters both from 3pt and 2pt

3. You lack go to post scorers (Thad and Miller are the closest they have.)

4. They tend to give up jumpers

So they have to defend to where their opponent makes mistakes and then get out on the break. They rely on opponents missing shots and drawing fouls.

So that means the Sixers are going to either be streaky or flat out bad. i guess for now I'll take streak, and hope they address the shooting, post scoring and defensive rotations next year... and then they can be both consistent and good.

But that doesn't explain why they've played so much better against the better teams. I mean, shouldn't all those weaknesses be exploited by the better teams in the league?

Good point. I guess that depends if the better teams also have great shooters.

You have already pointed out that Evans' disruptive effects have a better net impact against good teams. Also, I think the young players get more up and are more focused for the big games.

Overall, I think this team is streaky in that they can beat the best teams when they are on, or get crushed by horrible teams with good shooters when they are flat.

A lot of times FT% tells the story. When they are focused they also hit their FT's. When they are flat they have those 60% FT% games, and often it comes back to bite them late in the game.

For me, I think the biggest thing we've seen over the past couple of months has been this team's maturity late in games. They've now closed out three huge wins on the road against very good teams @ Houston, @ LA and @ Portland. That type of experience is what pays off in the playoffs.

Some of that is just things balancing out. They (Iguodala) hit some key shots and then the team still lost at the end. Now the breaks are falling in their favor and they are winning some of those close games.

They played well enough to beat the Spurs, Mavs, Nets and Celtics. You are not going to keep losing every close game in the last second. Call it Karma or whatever, but things balanced out against the Lakers and Blazers.

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Real and Speightacular reply to tk76 on Mar 24 at 13:24
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Hmm. Good point.

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john reply to Brian on Mar 24 at 12:49
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but playing up/down to the talent of your opponent would explain it wouldn't it?:)

It's a flaw of young mediocre teams I think.

PS - Brain - you read Simmons ESPN the Mag Column?

Not yet. I'll check it out after lunch (Ford is chatting in 10 minutes, want to see what he has to say).

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john reply to Brian on Mar 24 at 12:53
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He talks about the MIT conference and stats he wants to see in basketball.


I just checked out Simmons column. The stops category he was talking about is something Dean Oliver tracked in the wnba, interesting stuff.

Ford apparently bailed on his chat session. I'm grabbing lunch.

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john reply to Brian on Mar 24 at 13:29
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I found humor in the 'blocks' suggestion mostly because i suggested it a couple years ago in regards to 'sam is great he blocks a lot of shots'

I was thinking that if you could find a large enough base of fans with League Pass and a DVR you might be able to look at some of these things that Simmons is talking about (or your own ideas)...

It's really a chore to track things like this. Some games I have to rewind whole quarters because I get caught up in the action. If it was my job, well, that'd be another thing.

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john reply to Brian on Mar 24 at 19:46
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Well my idea involved more than just 'you' - and it only involes tracking one thing for a week (or a month) so you don't get too bored.

It requires lots of people with League Pass and dedication and an idea of what we'd want to track

If you might be interested in hearing about it - email me - it's the kind of thing that would need a lot of help - and take a while to set up - during the off seaosn

Outside of the Lakers and Blazers win, how many "good" teams have we really played lately? Miami's not a bad team, but they're flawed as well. That was preceded by Oklahoma and Memphis. We then lost to New Orleans and Orlando before that. Losses to Denver, Miami and New Jersey immediately before that.

Prior to this road trip, the teams wins had come against Miami, Chicago, Toronto, Memphis, Knicks, Wizards, Memphis. Not exactly world beaters.

This trip has been great, but I'm not so sure it's proof that they can compete with the top teams in the league. Enjoy it for what it is, but my expectations aren't exactly raised all that much.

Is it possible Thad goes off in the playoffs and they steal a round? Sure. But overall, my opinion of this team isn't vastly different than it was back in January.

I tend to agree. I don't think they play down to their competition. Good teams lose to bad teams sometimes... how else would terrible teams manage 20 wins?

This game just reinforces my belief that they aren't any worse than any team in the East not in the big 3.

Is not the key to win a game is to have 80%+ FT shooting? I would venture to say if they are over 80-85% they win, below they lose?

Not always but 90% of the time?

Let me run the numbers on that. Give me 10 minutes.

OK, free throw percentage in wins: 74.5%
Free throw percentage in losses: 73.8%

When they shoot better than 80% they're 12-10.

When they shoot better than their season average (74.2%), they're 20-18. When they shoot under their season average they're 16-15.

Oddly, their 4 worst free throw percentage games (55.6%, 55.0%, 54.3% and 52.6%) were all wins.

Yup. Surprisingly, the Sixers are only 12-10 when shooting 80% or better.

http://nba.phillyarena.com/teamstats.php?type=playerstat&playerid=sixers&field=ftper&operator=greaterequal&inputvalue=80

(one of the projects I've been working on, getting team results certain conditions are met. I'll try working in the "when games are decided by 5 points or less" angle).

FTM is a much better indicator. The Sixers are 12-3 when they make more than 25 free throws.

How about the rest of the NBA with FTM > 25?

Don't have that data. right now it's very Sixers-centric, only searchable based on games the Sixers have played in.

25 FTM is a fairly rare occurrence. the sixers opponents have only done it twice this year.

That's awesome, how did you get the data?

Get XML feeds from xmlteam.com, then have a script that parses the data and inserts it into my own database. Then wrote the webpage so you can build your own query and query the database.

My background is a system/network administrator, so I've started this up as a hobby. My intent when I started the site was more of this kinda stuff with stats/tools than it was to be a blog, so lately I've been spending more time working on this than I have been writing about the team.

That's great. I bought the box score feeds from xmlteam a while back, but haven't had the time to do anything w/ them.

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Real and Speightacular reply to Derek Bodner on Mar 24 at 18:36
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Awesome, Derek. That's exactly the kind of project I want to be able to do on my own by year's end. I've got some studying to do.

Out of curiosity, I'm guessing you wrote it all in perl, the sys admin's swiss army knife?

XML Parser's in perl, the site code is in php. database backend is postgres.

If you have any questions let me know. More than happy to point anyone in the right direction if you're interested.

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Real and Speightacular reply to Derek Bodner on Mar 24 at 19:16
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Ok, I intend to use mostly Python (Beautiful Soup and Django) and probably MySQL (tho I allow Postgres' superiority). Mebbe even some Flex down the road.

But right now it's the most vapory of vaporware. Step 1: learn Python. lol!

That's funny. My internship I had my junior/senior year of college was PHP/Postgres/Apache web development. Good times. Gotta love Linux.

Good luck sir. Be sure to spread the word if/when you finish. I know I have started that task 2 separate times only to eventually lose interest.

I wish i had 600+ bucks to spare to buy a years worth of box scores - i might have to do it the down and dirty way when i finally scrape together the box score database i'm going to use in sql server (for class)


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Joe reply to john on Mar 24 at 20:55
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basketballvalue.com has play by play logs... you could parse those.

Once again, stats prove me wrong! Can you figure stat out on 5 point or less games?

Wins by 5 points or less (12 total): 74.6% FTP
Losses by 5 points or less (8 total): 74.3% FTP

So, inspite of all my agony of foul shooting, it really does not matter?

Or do you think that their foul shooting follows their regular shooting and that is why. Shooting bad, foul line poor, shooting good, foul line good?

I think they generally suck from the line, but they get there so much that percentage isn't such a huge issue. If you could break it down by quarter, you may find that 4th quarter free throw shooting has killed them in a couple of those close losses.

Thank you for your time.

No problem.


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